A Missoula Mom reader recently sent me a link to the New York Times’ Motherlode blog post about the use of honorifics for women, and how their accepted use has changed rather dramatically in a short period of time.

The use of Miss, Ms. and Mrs. was once a way to signal a woman’s marriage status. Now, not so much. Similarly, as more women choose to keep their family names after marriage, or some combination, the flexibility to call yourself, and be known by, different names has been embraced to the point where hardly anybody gives it a second thought anymore.

Except, of course, for the women making the naming decisions. Me, I’m Ms. Christensen, thank you, and I share the same last name with my husband and our daughter. It keeps things simple when filling out any sort of official paperwork, which is nice, but honestly I chose to take my husband’s name for no other reason than I was tired of having to spell my maiden name. Maybe in a few years I’ll get tired of spelling Christensen, too, and start calling myself Ms. Smith or Ms. Jones or something.

Anyway, I do wonder how families decide which name their children should take, and when they hyphenate a child’s name, how that works when children with hyphenated names grow up and get married and have children of their own. And does having a name that’s different from your child’s require any sort of explaining at school, for instance? What’s in a name?

– MM