After 4 years of being legally separated, I’ve decided to take back my family name. I have two sons 9 and 7. Their Dad and I are active, effective parents who work well together to ensure the kids are OK. We may not live under the same roof, but we are family and care for each other. Last night I told my older son about the change and then found him crying in his room. He says he’s fine if Dad and I don’t live together but he still wants us to be married and he didn’t want me to change my name because then, in his mind, we wouldn’t be a family. I’m afraid he’s holding out hope that his Dad and I will re-unite, which isn’t a likely possibility. My gut tells me we shouldn’t let him live with false hope, but it’s hard to see them in pain over something I am doing. What’s the best approach?
There is no easy solution. Your son’s concern is that the excellent family life that you and his father have created will disappear. He may cope better if you can give him concrete indicators that you are still a family. This should not be difficult as you are committed to this. Name some things as Family Events. Treasure these events. Feature some family pictures in your own home and make sure he notices these. You could allow him to call you whatever name he wishes. You may even want to keep your married name as an unofficial middle name for family purposes. He may not like the name change no matter what you do.
It is important to consider his feelings. I would not suggest that what you do be dictated by his wishes. At times adults have to make decisions that our children don’t fully understand.