The full name of a Han Chinese consists of a family name and a given name. A distinctive feature of the Chinese name is that the family name always comes first, followed by the given name. For thousands of years, Chinese family names have been passed down through the father. Nowadays, however, it is not uncommon for a child to adopt the mother's family name. Generally, a given name is made up of one or two characters, usually carrying the parents' wishes for their child. It can be inferred from the name what kind of person the parents want their child to be, or what kind of life they expect him or her to lead. Chinese parents attach great importance to the choice of their child's name, as the name tends to accompany the child for his or her entire life.