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by Abigail Van Buren

Hyphenated Surnames Cause Confusion for Parents Naming Children

DEAR ABBY: Is there an existing or evolving tradition regarding what surname to give to the children of parents who already have hyphenated last names? For example, when "James Moreland-Ashford" marries "Sarah Rosen-Hubbard," what surname should their children use?

Surely no parent wants to saddle their child with four hyphenated last names, but choosing only one, or one from each parent might end up offending one or more grandparents and other relatives.

I heard about one family who dropped all their existing surnames and chose a brand-new one for both the parents and their children. It did not go over well with relatives in either family. It also proved challenging with respect to the parents' professional lives since they had to reintroduce themselves to all their colleagues and clients.

Have you any advice for us and our hyphenated-surname children? -- OVERLOADED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR OVERLOADED: I saw this situation coming decades ago. My advice is just this: Keep it simple, and do not allow anyone else's ego to influence your decision. Your children will thank you for it.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting