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Counseling/Communicating With Parents About Changing My Name

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Question
Hello,

I'm a 18 year old male who wants to legally change my name. Now, I was born in Europe, but moved to Canada as an infant and live here. My parents are dyed-in-the-wool patriots of our country.

My and my folks have joked around about me changing my name for a while now (it's not even a change; I'm changing the spelling of my middle name + adding another last name to my current one, so I'm basically not even dropping by birth name at all). I have been serious, but they clearly have been taking it as a joke, until I tried to make it clearer to them that I do indeed intend to make the change.

My issue is: since my parents are so patriotic and devoted to our family, I think they see me as a traitor who a) refuses to admit his heritage (I don't like to do it publicly, I'll admit) and b) that I'm ashamed of my family and my last name, which is not the case. Besides, my father and I have the same name which often creates confusion in terms of paperwork, appointments, etc.

I still very much intend to make the change, but I don't want to be viewed in my family as a traitor or anything like that. Like I said, I' want to change the spelling of my middle name + add another last name (although I don't want it to be hyphenated). How do I make sure that my family doesn't look at me this way? How can I explain this to them in an easy, calm way so they can understand me? Because so far, they think that every explanation that I've tried to give them is BS and bogus.

Thanks

Answer
Hello

I can see that you have quite a dilemma going. Changing your name is important to you for several reasons, and you have decided to definitely go through that process, but you would prefer that it not be so upsetting to your parents. You want to be understood, and ideally, supported by them.

You ask, "How do I make sure that my family doesn't look at me this way?" Well, that is impossible. You have no control or influence over how others perceive what you're doing. They will think and perceive as they choose, and that is completely under their control. However, your second question, "How can I explain this to them in an easy, calm way so they can understand me?" offers a little more promise.

I think the best way for you to approach this with your parents is as follows: Tell them that you want to make this change, and you want their understanding and support for your decision. Tell them that you won't go through with your decision without their support, and that you want to continue the conversation until they understand you and offer you their support. This is the only way I can think of that you can honor yourself and them at the same time.

You have every right to change your name, and your parents have every right to their feelings about it. Be true to yourself, and take one step at a time.

I hope this helps.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Counseling

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William DeFoore, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about depression, anxiety, anger issues, marriage issues, parenting, addiction issues and general life coping problems. I will give a positive perspective, offering encouragement and an action plan about the next best steps for you to take.

Experience

I have been in practice as a counselor for over 38 years, working with individuals, couples and families with good results.

Publications
I am the author of: *Anger: Deal With It, Heal With It, Stop It From Killing You. Health Communications, Inc. 2004. *Anger Among Angels: Shedding Light On The Darkness Of The Human Soul. Health Communications, Inc. 2000. *Serai: Bringing The Children Home. Wingspan Press, 2007

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Sociology; M.A. in Clinical Psychology; Ph.D. in Counselor Education; Licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor

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All client information is kept confidential.

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