If you’re not married to the father of your children have you got some explaining to do?

My daughter googled me whilst she was at school. Doesn’t sound so bad right? I mean it’s school, nothing too scandalous could possibly pop up with their level of security settings (although I must admit I’m really not that interesting hehe).

Sadly she was trying to show her ‘friend’ that I wasn’t always as fat as I am right now. Honestly, it hurt my heart just typing that sentence. It’s my own fault though. I haven’t built this child up enough to be able to combat this type of nastiness.

Surprisingly it wasn’t that hard to find me and she was proud to point my fitter self out to the other child. The only problem, however, is that my daughter and I have different surnames.

The Way We Are Raised

“That’s not your mum. She doesn’t even look like your mum. PLUS she doesn’t even have your last name which means that your mum and dad aren’t married,” the other child fiendishly educated my daughter.

“Did you know that if your parents aren’t married and they have you then there’s something really bad about you!” 

There was a whole new level of hurt now packaged into my little girl but added to that, she was entirely confused and concerned by the in-depth discussion this other child had had with her.

I wanted to approach the other child myself and let her know that even if my husband and I were not married, that we could still have a family and it would be completely fine, but I’m not that brazen.

These values that she has aren’t her own. She didn’t just wake up one day and decide to judge others by their appearance or marital status. She has to have been exposed to it somehow. Something she’s seen or heard has lead to her believing that you must be married to be able to start a family, that a wife would always have her husband’s surname… and that a person’s figure somehow matters. And there is nothing that I could possibly say to her to change her point of view.

It Starts At Home

What I can do however is reinforce in my own children that families are made up of a whole host of different combinations and that NONE of those incredible mixes come together to make anything but the greatest of little ones, no matter their marital status.

It’s the same with people and sizes! My goodness, I have enjoyed myself at a size 6 and I’m still loving life at a size 16. Nothing much has changed except for an extra 30kgs. I will be the first to admit that I do look like someone else entirely, but for heaven’s sake, it’s just weight. It comes and goes.

It broke my heart when my daughter begged me to change my surname though, to match hers. As much as I love her it just doesn’t align with who I am as an individual.

Her last name was one which I made fun of for a large part of my younger life. Her dad and I met in primary school and every time he bullied me for being heavyset, I taunted him for his last name. Here I am decades later very much regretting my cruel words.

Besides that though, it just isn’t me, it doesn’t feel right and I shouldn’t have to justify my reasoning behind wanting to remain who I am.

A Question Of ‘Why?’

Ideally, I would have preferred my husband and our children to take my last name. The real question here shouldn’t be why I don’t have HIS, but why my family doesn’t have MY last name. And that’s what I’m leaving my daughter with!

It’s not as though I didn’t ask my husband to change his name when we were married and the battle continued with each baby we were blessed with because I would have loved to have passed my family name down.

I hope one day when she’s older, she Googles me again and reads this article and that by then she’s stronger, more resilient, and doesn’t feel compelled to prove anything to anyone, especially if they are being cruel. I hope that with time she learns to smile and walk gently away all the while remembering that you simply cannot argue with stupid.

Above all, I hope she understands that there is no place for judgment in mankind. We are all so different, coming from all walks of life, with such vast and varied experiences, it is virtually impossible to judge a single soul on this magnificent Earth. Everyone deserves to simply be, just as they are, without the need for anyone to judge them in any way.

Have you or your children experienced judgment because of your family dynamic? Share your story in the comments. 

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  • I think people are no longer judging people abut their marriage status


  • Two out of three of my babies are brown and my youngest whilst not brown is still darker than me. When I’m out with my kids (without their daddy) I get the occasional question about where their daddy is from, from adults but that stems from harmless curiosity and not judgement. Some people just don’t understand that the world has changed and people do things their own way.


  • I’m married but didn’t change my surname, so that occasionally confuses people. I’ve never felt judged though.


  • I’m not married I have 2 daughters I haven’t had anything like above happen but do wish we all had the same last name I find it weird at appointments when they say my last name and then my kids are different


  • Powerful article. I’m in the same boat


  • Kids are not born to be cruel, it’s what they pick up from other adults saying cruel things about people. As for not changing your surname to that of the person you marry, it’s a personal choice and says nothing about you as a person.


  • It’s so easy for people to quickly judge. It is wrong in a lot of ways that the man’s name is generally passed on and not the mothers. I guess that’s why you see more hyphenated surnames. But sometimes I feel they just make your name as too long.


  • Kids can be unintentionally cruel when taught cruel ideas by adults! I hope I raise my daughter to know not to treat another child this way.
    I do like the idea of the family having the mother’s last name, except in my family. My husband has the same name as my brother so if he took my last name that would weird me out too much!


  • I am surprised as family dynamics, married, not married, name changed, not changed is not something people I know care about.


  • It doesn’t make you a bad person not being married to the father of your children, but I do believe that marriage should come first before the kids. It sets up that strong family environment and shows that you are committed to each other through an actual promise. It means so much more than a piece of paper.

    • If that were true, there wouldn’t be so many divorces. Two people who really love each other, do not need to be married to commit their lives to someone. I was married, and my husband didn’t take our commitment seriously, yet I know a couple who have been together for over 30 years, never married, they are very happy as they are.

      • That’s great for you if that was what made sense when you set up your family. But there are plenty of reasons people would choose not to get married at all, or not to be concerned about getting married before having children. I would never judge anybody for the way they’ve started a family, and I don’t think any way is better than another. Plenty of marriages don’t last, it doesn’t establish any more stability than just being in a committed relationship with someone you care about.


  • My kids are too young to even understand but they have different last names to both Dad and I. We chose to give them a different name, because despite not being married, our intention is to change our names. Neither Dad or myself feel bonded to our current last names and feel no need to pass it on. The name we picked is far more important than what we have. But as for this Mum not being married, I guess this comes with the conversation that while not married lawfully, you love and are comited to each other jo differently to a married pair. At least that’s my take. Some people want the piece of paper and the ceremony, some do not, both relationships should be accepted as normal.


  • I wish I knew you, because you sound like a great person and your daughter is lucky to have such a knowing, smart role model mum. I’m sorry for the mean dumb things her friend said to her, and for the body shape madness, and I thank you for sharing your wisdom, and for the line ‘you can’t argue with stupid’. All true.
    A different but relatable story:My parents werent married but I was given my father’s name. It was the only thing he did give me, and when i was older I changed my surname to include my mother’s , as she was the one who raised me, taught me, supported me. I am entitled to both, but it is my mum’s name I am proud of that defines me.


  • I think it is nicer if the parents are married for the children’s sake it is easier if your all same surname.


  • The father of my kids married me when our twins were 2 years old and OMG in those first 2 years I experienced so much shaming and judgement. Being a young and unmarried mum made me stronger and stand up for myself from judgy strangers.


  • My partner and I aren’t married and we get married. We believe it’s a very old school tradition and it’s a religious ceremony. Well we don’t follow a religion so doesn’t make much sense to get married.
    Either way you choose I think it’s important to educate your children on freedom of choice. You don’t have to do something because society says you have to.


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