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Complicated names place burden on the children

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

Complicated names place burden on the children

Anonymous: On naming kids: I had always been of the opinion that it was the parents' prerogative to name their kid whatever they darn well please until I became a school administrator. Two siblings, one with mother's last name, one with father's last name. Parents divorce, mom remarries and takes new husband's name, father remarries but new wife keeps her name. All four parents want to be actively involved in children's lives, in and out of school. Not a day went by when one of the children wasn't explaining this tangled web, or one of the parents wasn't trying to explain to a secretary that they really were a parent of these kids and thus were entitled to have a conference with a teacher.

One day the older sibling wandered into my office, and I asked him how he was doing. His response: "I just wish I didn't have to always explain who I am." The confusion this dynamic created for the school, but more importantly for the children, changed my opinion on naming children. Keep it simple.

'Family first' doesn't mean 'my way or the highway'

D: On the college football player who'll miss his brother's wedding for a game: This is not a "sports vs. wedding" problem. This is a "live what you profess to believe" problem. If you believe in putting family first, then do it. Don't whine that other people won't do it the way you want them to.

For most people, the longest relationship in a lifetime is with a sibling. It's particularly important to think very carefully before damaging this tie. Put your new family member (your soon-to-be husband) first. What does he want from his brother? What does it mean to have him present at the wedding? This should be your guide, not the brother's behavior or the feelings of your future in-laws.

I assume his brother is younger, and may not yet understand how difficult weddings are to schedule. He may not have the confidence to deal with pushback from his teammates if he misses a game. Perhaps he's in a "marriage is stupid" phase, or vying for a coveted spot on the team. In any case, he may just be too immature to understand what this all means, and he may need your example in order to learn.

Support your fiance to foster a close relationship with his brother (assuming he wants one). If that means changing the date — change it and smile, smile, smile. Yes, it may cost some money. However, someday that young football player may be sitting next to you while your husband has life-threatening surgery. He may raise your future children if something happens to you and your husband. The choices you and your future husband make now may help him to see what "family first" really means.

When my husband and I first married, our siblings were young and did not always reciprocate the way we wanted them to — but they grew into wonderful people who have enriched our lives enormously. Give your future brother-in-law the chance to do the same.

I'd trade a fairy tale wedding for a terrific brother-in-law any day.

Complicated names place burden on the children 08/30/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 30, 2010 6:23pm]
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