Dear Grandparenting: I have been doing my good grandmother thing, helping my granddaughter get ready for her big day! She even took me along to the store when she picked out her wedding gown.
She said she knew on their fourth date that she would marry this guy. But a funny thing happened on her way to the altar. Seems she is on the fence about keeping her maiden name. As a woman, I am all for Erica exercising her rights. But as an old school grandmother, I hope she decides to take on his family name.
It gets crazy when your kin goes by too many different last names. Supposing my granddaughter gets divorced and remarried? How many names then? What is your opinion? Lee Ann Morrison, Asheville, Tennessee
Dear Lee: Modern granddaughters in a matrimonial mood are indeed considering all options about what’s in a name, and the trend has turned toward retaining their maiden family name.
Back in the 1970s, when state laws required a woman to use her husband’s name to vote or open a bank account, retaining one’s maiden name became a pillar of the women’s movement. After women began to achieve greater gender equality, the practice dropped off.
But now it’s back, driven by the uptick of high earning women with college degrees, celebrity female role models who keep their surname, and couples who live together before marriage. When you’re already living in a household with two last names, it seems normal.
Women who are older, not religious and/or have children from a previous marriage are more likely to resist changing their name. A smaller percentage opts to hyphenate or use both surnames. Upwards of 25% of newlywed granddaughters will retain their maiden name. Among wealthier women who appear in wedding section of Sunday’s New York Times, the number jumps to 40%.
Although it may make sense as a practical matter to adopt a husband’s last name, there are attendant risks for working women. Some employers consider them less intelligent, less ambitious, and too family dependent. But women who keep their maiden name risk signaling they are less committed to their marriage. Who said life is fair?
Grand remark of the week
Cassie Brown from Wayne Heights, Pennsylvania weighed in to proclaim that “Blessed Are Those Who Hug and Snuggle, Pamper and Spoil, Boast and Brag, For They Shall Be Called Grandparents.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.