How Can I Tell My Daughter's Father's Family That I’ve Changed Her Last Name?

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"So the short version is my daughters dad took his life when she was only 6 months old. Fast forward a few years, she's started school and got all upset when learning to write her name, other children noticed that it was different than her older brothers (child from a different relationship, he has my name) she also noticed that she has a different last name to my current partner and our baby. She came home in tears every day for weeks. I explained the situation that it was her birth dads name which just confused her more and made her more upset. She cried that she wanted her step daddies name, I said no. This went on for weeks. So after weeks of seeing her so upset and in pain I made a compromise and said she could have mine and her older brothers name, this made her instantly happy. I changed it by deedpol and told her if when she's older she changes her mind thats ok too and I will help her change it back if that's what she wants making it clear that the doors always open. Her grandmother is still heartbroken over the loss of her son, I feel like the worst person in the world and don't know how I can tell her that I've taken their name away from his daughter? Please no nasty comments I already feel bad and guilty, but at the same time I couldn't just watch my daughter cry when I knew I could make it better. Any advice would be great."

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The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

"You should really speak with his family that might be the only connection they feel after the tragedy. Do they see your daughter, spend time with her. If the answer is yes you need to have a sit down. If not you owe them no explanation"

"I feel like you should have just added yours as well. Lots of ppl have 2 last names."

"A name change doesn’t make your daughter in less their family I hope they will recognize that"

"I changed my daughters last name to mine for different reasons, but in all honesty. A name is just a name, doesn’t change the fact he is still apart of her. You did what was right for your daughter & her mental health. Her grandmother may be hurt, but he still lives on in her. You did what you felt was right for your daughter."

"I have a hyphenated last name one is my dads and one is my moms. In school I had 1 name which is ok the school allowed it"

"It’s not about them. I’m sorry her dad passed but she’s here. She’s alive. If she wants her name to match and you are capable of doing that, do it. The grandmother will need to understand that name means nothing. She’s still blood "

"You could hyphenate with your lost name and her dads. That’s what my daughter chose to do and I told her when and if she decides she wants to change it when she’s older she can. We changed it to her dad’s name when she was 18"

"In this situation, I think it would have been better to maybe hyphenate it. But what’s done is done. Just explain why you did what you did in simple terms. Let them know how it was affecting your child."

"Hyphenating seams like a good compromise…but ultimately the grown up needs to understand the dads last name will never mean the same thing to the little girl as it does to grandma"

"I want to start by saying how sad and difficult for a young child. You don’t need to feel guilty. As her Mama, you are doing what is best for her. I feel for his mom also, but you need to worry about your own daughter’s thoughts and confusion."

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I had a similar situation with my oldest daughter. When she was 6 yo her birth father was murdered (we were married so she had our last name).

Flash forward 2 1/2 years later … I became pregnant with my current ex-husband’s first child. Prior to this, I still had a relationship with my first husband’s family. While pregnant, I made the decision to attempt to blend both families as best I could because I didn’t want my oldest baby (or her biological family) to feel left out. So, we sat my first born down, and told her he would love to adopt her, if that’s what she wanted. I was also communicating with my ex-mil regarding the same. Ultimately, what we did was proceed with the adoption but altered my oldest daughter’s middle name to Ann-Malone (the latter being her birth father’s last name); and, told her that if in the future she wanted to revert back to the last name of Malone, she would be fully supported.

While I understand you can’t have this conversation now because you already took action … I highly suggest you inform her biological grandparents of the current situation. Try the best you can to explain how sorry you are for not including them at that moment, and if you could do it all over again you would have done so. Cudos to you for addressing your child’s pain, as this is most important. But, for your piece of mind … have that conversation.

Best of luck!