One surprise while writing this article [about equally shared parenting] was how most of the women had taken their husband’s last name. While that is clearly the norm in the country as a whole, I would have guessed that this subgroup, which had made equal sharing their priority, would be more likely to keep the name they were born with or create something hyphenated with their spouse.
I also found this to be true of many of the couples I interviewed for my book about reverse-traditional families--in many of them, the breadwinning mom changed her name.
I never asked why, but perhaps I should have. I suspect for many of the couples there's no "why" about it; they just did what was traditional. The fact that they later embraced a reverse-traditional arrangement as parents speaks volumes about the degree to which new gender roles are more of a response to changing social conditions than the product of a left-wing pinko conspiracy.
My wife and I gave our son an awkwardly hyphenated name--his full name is Liko Wai-Kaniela Smith-Doo. Many people consider it noteworthy that we stuck her name at the very end, and I had the impression it was important to my wife, but I just thought "Smith-Doo" sounded marginally better than "Doo-Smith." Neither of us even considered just giving him my name. We married a year after he was born (that's us, below, getting hitched) and decided to just keep our separate names. "Jeremy Adam Smith-Doo" just didn't do it for me.
One interesting nuance in this discussion: I've encountered many lesbian couples (OK, three lesbian couples) who gave the name of the non-biological mom to the child, as a way of establishing the parental relationship. This makes sense and casts a new light on the tradition of giving the father's name to a child--since the child wasn't born of his body, perhaps it's culturally important to provide a personal and social link between the two of them.
So I'm curious: How did your family come up with its last names, and why?