Co-parenting

How These Co-Parents Chose Their Children's Names

The interesting and unusual back-story of how 2 moms and 2 dads chose their children's names 


There are two potentially challenging questions that almost every gay dad couple must consider (and resolve) before they become fathers:  (1) What will his last name be? (2) What names will she use to call each of us?

I’ve seen this discussion referred to as The Name Game, and the subject always generates lots of community engagement. During our own version of The Name Game, my husband and I had an additional twist to resolve: we co-parent our daughters with their two moms. Meaning we had to find a solution for the first question that would satisfy not two, but four different parents.

Choosing Our Dad Names

What our kids would call J.R. and me was a pretty simple decision; we’d both be ‘Dad’ or whatever came organically from the girls. Sure enough, it’s been ‘Daddy Bill’, ‘Daddy J.R.’, just ‘Daddy’, and any other play on this that you can think up. A frequent exchange goes like this - Daughter, “Daddy?”; Me, “Yes?”; Daughter, “other Daddy.”; J.R., “Yes?” Most of the time they don’t care which one of us answers, so whoever is quicker to respond will handle the matter.

For a few years, I was ‘Honey’ or ‘Honey Bill’. My husband called me Honey so often that our older daughter thought it was my name, and started using it when she was two. Later on, her little sister picked up on it too. They eventually stopped, which I think is a bit of a bummer. Now I’m only "Honey Bill" to my mother-in-law and a couple of friends. It also came in handy when I created my Instagram profile. (Check out @honeybilld, if you want to, maybe, I dunno, follow my page or whatever).

Meanwhile, with four parents involved, agreeing to the children's last name was a bit more complicated. First we had to decide whose last name(s) they would get. This coincided with deciding who would get to pick their first names.

One reason I often cite for the success of our family is that we four parents are a pretty laid-back group. This was evident very early on when, with no extensive discussion needed, the biological mom invited us to select the last name before our first daughter's birth. This co-parent comes from a family with a long tradition of honoring someone especially loved from an older generation by using his or her name for the newest generation. As such, she had a strong desire to give her children the names of her parents and grandparents. Sure enough, our older daughter's first name comes from her maternal grandmother and our younger daughter is named after her maternal great-grandmother. The middle names are also nods to other relatives of our kids.

Choosing the Last Name

For J.R. and me, how to land on a last name took a little more thought. We started with the ever-popular hyphenated idea, Delaney-Parish. But that’s kind of long, especially since the kids would also have first and middle names. We pondered merging our names, and even changing our own so to match the girls'. This was a fun experiment in which we broke out pad and pen and started mixing and matching: Delpar? Parlaney? Delparish? Parney? Ugh! They were all horrible. Then we struck gold: DELISH! Images of us introducing ourselves popped into my head; “Hi! We’re the Delishes!”

Nope. Never mind.

So it was back to the hyphenation, Delaney-Parish, final answer. But wait, there’s more! Fast forward to the hospital soon after the birth of our first-born. All four of her parents where in the room when the birth certificate paperwork was brought in. We’re all there feeling the love and joy, and birth mom asks if we can pop in her last name as the middle name, and bump the original middle name up to being a co-first name. (Apparently that's really a thing.) We didn’t even hesitate to say ‘yes’. And it was a no-brainer that we would do the same with baby number two. So now our poor kids are stuck with five names each. Good luck to them as they develop their signatures.

Wait, our family has one more "Name Game" name.

There’s one more improvised name that we use in our doubly non-traditional family. We were celebrating our first-born daughter's second birthday and it was time to break out the cake. I wanted to get the attention of all 3 of my co-parents without having to tick off each name. So I ingeniously called out for the “Parental Entourage,” and somehow it just worked. We parents have been using it ever since.

And there you have The Name Game as experienced among four intentional co-parents. If you were to ask me what traditional game it most resembles, I'd have to go with Twister.

Co-Parenting as a Path to Fatherhood 

Intentional Co-Parenting refers to single gay dads or gay dad couples who create a family with a friend or other non-romantic partner, typically either a single lesbian or lesbian couple. Check out these quick posts to get more information:

  • Co-Parenting: It's Not Just for Divorced Couples Anymore
  • Intentional Co-Parenting for Gay Men Explained
  • The Essential Co-Parenting Checklist
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