A Thought Experiment for Last Names of Children

I was once interviewed by a young woman at Harvard who had a hyphenated last name.  I’ll make one up.  It was something like Virginia Cameron-Land.  I believe this was the name given to her by her parents who were probably something like John Land and Karen Cameron (who had kept her name).  The hyphenated last name represents an attempt to give both parents some equality in the last name with regard to the children.  

But there is no future in this approach.  What happens when Virginia Cameron-Land marries Timothy Johnson-Stevens?  Do they then have a child who is Jonathan Cameron-Land-Johnson-Stevens?  And what about future combinations after that?  Could get pretty unwieldy.

Fortunately, my father has offered an interesting solution.  His proposal, which impressed me with its simplicity is this:  Whether or not the wife takes her husband’s last name, the male children will take the father’s family surname and the female children will take the mother’s family surname.  In that way, male-female equality issues (if that is your concern) can be addressed.  For those who are more traditional, this solution might be appealing because it should be the case that family lines are less likely to “die out” due to a lack of male heirs.  

What do you think?  Is there a hole in this strategy?  


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