The search for identity.

Our daughter is ten years old. She is a subject often discussed on this blog of mine, because watching her grow and change is such an amazing experience, and she is just such a great little human being in the making. I have been pondering the idea of a person’s search for identity because of something that happened with her this week.

She is legally the child of both myself and my partner; and she has always known that, known that she belongs to both of us. Her last name, due to biology of birth, is mine. She was always given the option of hyphenating it, to carry both of our names, and we considered doing it on her behalf at times. But, in wanting to help her feel one of her peer group, we never did anything except keep her name as it is.

This week, she subtly but specifically told me that she wants to change her last name. Not hyphenate it, but change it to reflect my partner’s last name only. I was surprised, a little shocked, and at first, felt really weird about that. Not my name anymore? What does that mean, and then, where do I fit in with her identity and origins? It was a strange reaction on my part, I didn’t expect it, but have been trying to sort through it since she first told me. And, she only told me directly, not my partner.

Last night, over family dinner, we all had a discussion about it. We talked about the various options with her, and although she was interested in the option of hyphenating vs. changing it, she still wants to change it to her last name.

Now, as her parents, we could say, no, that is not okay. We could express our concern about the questions that she will get, the confusion it may cause with friends or school personnel, possible negative reactions. But, I think we are of a frame of mind that we want HER to make the choice. You see, we are a nontraditional type of family; so, we need to, at times, do things in a nontraditional way, to accomodate the needs of our child, of our family.

After I stopped feeling helpless, lost, and left out about the potential name change, it kind of hit me as a revelation of sorts: she is forming and shaping her own identity. She is taking control of who she is, and part of that, for her, is changing her name. She cannot describe to us, nor explain, why she wants to do it, but identity is a hard thing to explain or describe for any of us. What is our identity? Who are we? Her questions related to this will be far different from many of her peers, so this seems to be an exercise in that, to help her come to her own, loving and individual understanding. She is searching, and we will help her in anyway that we can, that seems reasonable, to find it and explore it.

And, I don’t think we could express our love in any fuller of a way.


5 thoughts on “The search for identity.

  1. How incredibly hard on you this must’ve been, I can feel all the emotions and feel a tug at my heart. I think it is amazing that she has the opportunity to choose her name, in turn take control of her identity. Am sending you hugs, BIG ones – found the postcard today 🙂

    I think you two are amazing parents to allow a child this learning curve and to support it *hugs*

  2. Thanks for that. We are always learning, but the blessed part about it, is that we are learning together, we care how each other thinks and feels, and therefore can give her some space and room to expand, grow, and learn about herself. It does feel weird and strange in some ways; in other ways, she is just being who we raised her to be, and that is beauty in itself. Thanks for the warmth and hugs…… can’t wait to see the postcard; we are looking on this end for the right one as well! V.

  3. Oh I understand it must have been difficult to hear it at the first go. But its good you respect her little needs to treat child as a yound adult at times and listen carefully to what they say.It helps them to take better decisions for themselves. Being a parent is about donning a new role altogether- apart from the kids you too also learn so much about life.
    God bless your family,
    fruity 🙂

  4. fruitful: welcome! Thank you so much for reading. It was hard, but in allowing her the freedom to discuss it with us, and to explore what she really wants and needs, we preserve our relationship with her; we keep her close for when the going gets tough. I appreciate your comments so much, and I hope that you visit again! Peace, Vanessa

  5. I have a daughter age 12 and a son age 8 and it would pull at my heartstrings too if I found myself in your situation. It’s wonderful that you are open enough to engage with your daughter about this subject and listen to her ideas. Will you be helping her to change her surname?

    At 8 & 12, my kid’s views of the world are still maturing. They live in an exciting state of flux as their awareness of themselves in relationship to other people changes daily. During this period, they are open to a lot of external influences, not all of which are positive, beneficial or of real consequence. As a parent I need to try to moderate the effect of these influences on my kids and educate them as to the existence of such influences so they can filter out unwanted or negative external pressures for themselves. Thus allowing them to more fully develop their own sense of identity rather than one imposed externally.

    Whilst I feel it is vital to engage in conversation with and truly appreciate and value my children’s young feelings and opinions, I do not feel their view of the world is mature enough to warrant acting on their every desire. I know that while their feelings may be very real, the information on which those feelings are based may not be or may not yet be fully understood. As their awareness evolves, what is important to them today will probably be replaced by something different tomorrow.

    If by tomorrow they have found something new of importance to think about, then I didn’t really need to act on their young desire, it was enough for me to allow them to express their views in an open loving and supportive environment. In fact by getting drawn into the drama of the issue with them, I may be hampering their development. Being a stable unwavering source of security and understanding may prove more beneficial to them in the long run?

    If it really is of importance to them and proved over a period of time to be so, I would encourage them to hold on to their vision until they were a little older and their sense of identity more fully matured. If by then, they still held the same desire and had the will to act on it, by all means in my power I would help them to do so.

    Teaching our children patience, consistency and determination, to be able to delay personal gratification is an important spiritual lesson.

    I would be very interested to know why your daughter feels it is important to change her name?

    This topic also makes me think about the latest attempt at control of mass consciousness through the manipulation of language currently sweeping the globe. The term identity Theft, which basically means that the bank or credit card companies security systems are inadequate to protect their financial assets, is being used instead of credit card fraud.

    The use of the term ID theft tricks us into accepting that we are the victim of the crime and puts the responsibility for the theft firmly on us. Credit card fraud makes the bank the victim of the crime and makes them responsible for prevention and for cleaning up the mess.

    Have you ever met a victim of Identity Theft? Did they walk around with a blank expression on their face wondering who they were and where they lived? Did they forget their wives and children. Did they forget all their lifes experinces?

    What’s it feel like to have your identity stolen? Does it hurt? If they find it can they put it back in your body? Are you ever the same again afterwards?

    Love V

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