Dear D: My Father’s Family Disowned Me. Can I Change My Name?

Dear Danielle Life + Relationship Advice

Dear Danielle,

In December of 2011 my father’s family unofficially disowned me. I made a comment to my cousin on Facebook and it was taken hugely out of proportion. My grandmother sent me a letter officially uninviting me from Christmas at her house and it contained quite a few nasty comments about what a disrespectful individual I am. It is July 30th now and she has not said a word to my father, my mother, my sister, or I. We were not invited to Easter or my grandfather’s birthday. It is safe to say that they wish nothing to do with me.

My entire life that side of the family has looked down on me, quite obviously. My sister and I got smaller and inexpensive presents while the rest of my cousin got lavish gifts, money, prepaid vacations, among other things. The other side of my family, my mother’s, has played an extremely large role in my upbringing. They know who I am. They have attended every birthday, holiday, and other various events that I took part in..

Is it completely out of hand to change my last name to my mother’s maiden name? Their name holds far more importance and significance to my life. I would be proud to use their name in my future endeavors. I would like them to be directly linked to my accomplishments. I do not want the people who have hurt me so much to be able to take pride in what I will do or accomplish. Is that selfish?

Thanks for listening,
Alyssa Jane


Hi Alyssa,

Thank you so much for reaching out + being willing to trust me with your story.

I am so sorry to hear about your father’s family’s treatment of your mother + you.
It seems so unfortunate + unnecessary.  Have you ever spoken to a therapist or coach about this or has it been something you have simply endured alone?

To answer your last question: Yes, it is selfish to change your last name – but in the best kind of way. Selfish has such a negative connotation in our society but sometimes it can actually be healthy to be selfish.Twitter_logo_blue

Let’s flip the language we use, yeah? Why don’t we call it “self-protection,” or better yet “self-preserving” instead of selfish. We come to junctures in life in which we must emotionally or physically protect ourselves.

If we don’t protect ourselves, we run the risk of annihilation and/or further fragmenting of our spiritual well-being.
Am I making sense?

In order to preserve your emotional + spiritual stability you must occasionally act selfishly.
Self-preserving.  You are preserving your stability by doing something that is in your best interest.

If you feel changing your last name is in your best interest
+ symbolically reflects your allegiance to the side of the family that has nurtured you, then change it.

Say to yourself out loud: I am going to change my last name to “X” from “Y.”
Notice how you feel in your body.  What’s the feeling in your chest?  Your gut?

Did it feel expansive?
Or constricting?

A feeling of “expansion” will usually signal that this is an action that is in integrity.
Which is a good thing.

Best of luck!

I am the proud author of Soul Sessions: A 5 Week Guide to Crafting Greater Joy + Making Big Things Happen. Need one on one inspiration?  Hire me.  You won’t regret it.


  1. My brother and I are actually changing our last names because of our father. We’re bent on erasing him from our lives, and it’s unfortunate that his side of the family has kind of been caught in the cross-fire, but we both feel that this is the best way for us to show everyone how truly just done we are with all the drama. For me, the name change isn’t such a hard decision (I’m actually changing my full name). I’m really ecstatic with my new name. I feel like it’s a real reflection of myself, instead of the one I have before. I hope you will be as happy with your name change as I am with mine!

    • Jo! Is that your new name, Jo? I would love to hear your new name and help you celebrate! I deeply respect your decision to change your whole name and are thrilled to hear you have chosen one that really aligns with your best, loving, compassionate and courageous self! I know this is a result of most likely years of epic pain and disappointment and I am so so sorry for this but I also want to offer a generous congratulations. I hope you are profoundly happy and wish you much continued love. xo

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