My daughter is Isabella Gutierrez Marcelino. My last name is Gutierrez – but that’s actually my daughter’s middle name. We gave her my wife’s last name – Marcelino.
I’m not ashamed of my family’s name. I’m proud to be a Gutierrez. The name is always a reminder of my dad, my hero, who still works day and night to ensure the people he loves are always taken care of.
As Stef and I started family planning, I was at a crossroads. Why is it that we value one last name over the other? When I knew we were having a girl, I began to think about why my daughter should automatically just come labeled with my family name. Why is it that as a society we do that? I’m so proud of my wife and all she has been able to accomplish – why couldn’t my daughter carry on her mother’s last name? I surely know my wife will be the prime example of what I want her to be grow up as.
I went on a dive to search for validity. I came across a few blog posts from men who had done this – many in the name of feminism, which I highly respect. Others did it because they hated their own family history, which I didn’t necessarily agree with.
But then it hit me – I’m going to have a daughter. I want her to be the best damn person she ever could be. And with that, would I ever want her pressured into giving up her own identity in order to be a wife and a mother to her kids? I don’t, and that’s what women have to go through every time they get married and take their husband’s last name. I want her to reach her potential in ways I cannot even grasp, and to do that, I have to be a living example to her that I’m willing to defy convention and show her that in life, she’ll always have an ability to choose what she wants to do and be; even if it’s different than what society expects her to do.
Giving her my wife’s last name puts her in only 4 percent of families, and that’s mainly couples who have kids out of wedlock, many times with fathers that aren’t as involved in their children’s lives. But at the other extreme, we’ve had royal families for years take on whatever moniker is more convenient for them to distinguish themselves as royalty – we see it now with Prince Phillip, who took his mother’s last name when he turned 21, and all the rest of the current British Royal Family, who all claim the Queen’s. Why the hell can they defy all these societal rules and we’re expected not to?
By choosing to give my daughter her mother’s name, I am instilling in her the notion that even if society sets an expectation, she can take whatever direction she wants to take; and it’ll only make her papa proud.
I chose to defy the patriarchal culture to show my daughter that she doesn’t have to take the path that’s already carved and I hope she makes decisions that show that. If she does, then it’ll more than likely carry on in her prosperity – and that means that no matter what, they’ll carry on my legacy; and that’s of more value to me than any last name.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marlon Gutierrez, a native of Miami, is a work-at-home digital marketing manager and married father of one. He is an organizer of our Orlando Dads Group.