The Name Game


From legal testaments to biblical atonements, from genealogy to numerology, names serve many purposes from proving rights to inheritances to providing lineage to tie families together. Names serve to identify us.


An "identity" encompasses every aspect of our lives. It proclaims our "station" in life. It tells the world who we are, where we came from, what group we are part of, and in some cases, where we are destined to go.


In 1848, the first women's rights convention sought recognition from the world that women were equals in humanity, not the subservient factor. Six decades later, the Senate responded by approving the 19th Amendment. In the 70's, women took back their identity by reclaiming their maiden surname, typically hyphenated with their married surname. In the 80's, the trend dropped the hyphenation, with many women retaining their maiden surnames, or reclaiming them after divorce. In the 90's, couples began hyphenating with both surnames. Perhaps the most startling and saddest name change that has come about in the last 10 years has been a trend towards children changing their surnames; divorcing their fathers, in a manner of speaking.


Volumes could be included here that have been published on the element of identification through names and the identity crisis that truly exists today. Identity has played a crucial part in our history, from suffrage to civil rights, and every four years in political parties. This past election was one of the strongest 'singular identity' crisises in political history. Names cause psychological impacts.


The desire to know where one has come from and to which group one belongs has existed since the beginning of time, it is only the process of genealogy studies that has intensified in the last decades becoming commonplace hobbies for men and women alike. For some of the volunteer work that we do, they are a necessity, one that provides multiple benefits.


We volunteer time to single-parent families to help them find lost dead-beat parents for back child support. In the process, we assist them with beginning, or enhancing genealogical studies. In doing so, an amazing benefit comes to the children of these single-parent families: they gain an identity.


Even children who have changed their surnames to their mother's, or a stepfather's find a completeness that was otherwise unknown.


One mother wrote:


My son's middle name is the same as his father's first name; his father's middle name is the same as his father's first name, and so the pattern goes back into history, along the lineage. My eldest daughter's middle name is the same as my middle name. My youngest daughter's name is the same as her great-great grandmother's name. All three of my children dropped their biological father's surname after years of not hearing from him, taking their stepfather's surname. Even after we were divorced, they continued to carry their stepfather's name. When the school counselor questioned it, their response was, "He divorced us, so we divorced him. I'm more like my Uncle anyway, and sis here is like her Grandma, and my other sister, she's just like her Mom."


We commonly refer to all this as "The Name Game". It isn't that we are making fun of names, it is that we hope we understand how names play a part in determining an identity for people.


As children grow, they seek role models, people whom they believe to be fault-free, glorified, if you will, and inspirational for their own lives. A child's first role models are his/her parents who play the greatest part of all, whether the children are preschool or high school. The old antage', "do as I say, not as I do" is an illogical parental statement and paradoxial defeating the very respect parents need to achieve in order to influence their children.


As children become older, and parental worship goes out with peer pressure, they are still proud to say, "My Mom does this. My Dad does that. My name is Francis, after the first lady in the cabinet."


Some say that today's teens are troubled by prayer having left the school, respect leaving with it. Others claim that sociologists have taken the authority away from the parents. Whatever the reason is for today's teens to be where they are, the common thread they talk about is 'uniqueness' and that one attribute is a direct desire from the lack of identity.


Your study need not be a mammoth book dating back 100+ years. A simple family tree going back three or four generations will suffice. Of course, a King or Queen in there is always of interest. The most important aspect is that your genealogical study will give your child a lineage from which they may pick and choose their identity. If you don't give them a road map, they'll draw their own.


Another version printed in "Family" magazine.

Family is the heart of life and society. Wisconsin laws prohibit bigamy and adultery. Wisconsin laws also attempt to make it difficult to obtain a divorce. Divorce litigation can be nasty stuff. During divorce in Wisconsin, child support and child custody issues arise. Those and other marital property issues can be resolved through mediation, collaborative divorce and counseling.


On Gitchee Gummee - It was a good day
Sea Worthy
Endless Road To The Remembered Land
Name Game
Bed Of Life, Unknown Author

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