The Twins

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Categories Parenting Twins

Back when I was about six months pregnant, I happened to run into a former colleague at a district wide grade level meeting (which basically means that all the 1st grade teachers in the district were getting together to discuss curriculum). I hadn’t seen her in quite a while, but news of my twin pregnancy had reached her and she came over to congratulate me. “Oh good,” she said when I told her that we were expecting a boy and a girl. “People are much more likely to see them as individuals instead of a packaged deal. I just hate when my friend refers to her girls as the twins. They are two individual girls, and they should be treated as such.”

Her comment came as no surprise to me, as this very topic pops up quite often in the blogoshpere of parents of multiples. It’s not difficult to find a post where a parent writes about trying to distinguish their children for family and friends or passes on tips regarding how to find time for each child when time is something of which we never feel we have enough. And while parenting multiples has quite a few challenges, I imagine parenting identical children (I mean in appearance, of course) has a few more unique challenges on top.

But all this in mind, I have to confess that thus far (almost two years), I’ve done almost nothing to individualize my twins. It helps that I have one girl and one boy, and I rarely dress them alike, but I know that I can and should be doing more to help them develop their own sense of self. They are always together, and have only had a very small amount of one-on-one time with a parent.

And just recently, I’ve begun to wonder how they think of themselves and what they might be wanting. It is clear that they enjoy spending time together (for the most part), but Tiny can sometimes take it hard if Buba wants to go off on his own. She’ll go after him, take him by the hand, and bring him back to the activity that she wants him to play with her.  When I find a bit of time in the day to sit down and play with the kids, often Buba will wander off to do his own thing (read books or play with a toy that Tiny hogs) seeming to know that Tiny will be occupied with me and therefore won’t demand companionship from him.

It’s hard for me to know what’s best for them sometimes. I want them to be close, as singleton siblings might be, but not so extremely close that they can’t do anything without each other. Will this work itself out over time? Will they learn to be individuals when they go to school? Will they independently develop different interests that will lead them to separate activities? Or will I need to take a more active role to help these things happen? For moms with pre-schoolers or older twins, what has been your experiences?


reanbean is a SAHM to boy/girl twins, Buba and Tiny, who will be 2 on Sunday. You can read more from reanbean at

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9 thoughts on “The Twins”

  1. I appreciate your thoughts in this post. I’ve been thinking about similar issues with our boys. We have 14 month old twins, a tw0-year-old (almost three), and a four-year-old (almost five), all boys. My husband and I refer to the kids often as “the big boys” and either “the babies” or “the little boys” or occasionally “the twins” for the sake of expediency, but we realize it might detract from their individuality. One suggestion that the mom of four (adult) boys who were close in age shared with me at the grocery store when I was there with all four boys was that in their family they swapped bedrooms every year, so that each sibling shared a room with a different sibling every year. She felt this encouraged all her boys to have close relationships with each other, not just each dyad. I thought it was a great idea, and we plan to start swapping bedrooms once our babies are out of their cribs. I know this doesn’t apply for many families, but perhaps some of you might find this suggestion useful.

  2. It sounds like Buba might be one reaching out for some individual time. I have identical girl twins and they do not always play together. Occasionally one will want the other one to play too, and sometimes the request is obliged. It’s not the end of the world if it is not though. I have read some books on the subject, I forgot the titles (one was specifically about twins, a few just touched on the subject but seemed relevant). To help them develop their individualness, it is not that you have to spend equal time with them or even treat them equally but that you identify each one’s individual needs at the moment. Buba wants to play on his own, so distracting Tiny is what needs to be done. It also sounds like Tiny might need to learn how to let Buba play on his own. So Tiny can learn be by herself. The twin book said that boy/girl twins can be the most detrimental because the girl develop communication and social skills more quickly than the boy. This leads her to take charge and speak for him and generally boss him around. This tends to be fixed once the children are seperated in school. Though, it says that the girl has the hardest time with that seperation.

  3. Oh, the twin book was called “Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children by Joan Friedman.

  4. I’m just rolling with the punches, and trying to to do anything to push my twin girls together, or pull them apart- just letting them decide when and with who they want to play. They already look and act so differently, I suspect they’ll have a lifetime of people seriously doubting they’re twins.
    .-= Jungletwins´s last blog ..Everything, and More. =-.

  5. I, too, just let my girls do what comes naturally to them. They are identical girls and I’m not sure it is wrong, at this age (3), to make them be apart if they don’t want to. The one thing I have been teaching them is that we are family and as a family you take care of each other. I would do this if they were twins or year apart in age. So in that aspect, because it is not their fault they are twins, they are learning the importance of looking out for each other which might in turn make them the “weird twins”.
    I’m not sure there is a right/wrong way to deal with this issue…..but always make me think.

  6. I agree with the last 2 post. I am just letting Abby and Alex figure out what they want, without pushing them. They are very, very different already and I think they will work it out. And I will always call my girls “my girls.” :)
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Shred update =-.

  7. I am just trusting that my boys will work it out. They are never apart and our lifestyle doesn’t allow for that “one on one” time since we have a total of 3 kids (twins almost 3 and older son age 8). When the kids outnumber the parents it is about survival and the rest can work itself out! I fully agree with the statement from other post: … it is not that you have to spend equal time with them or even treat them equally but that you identify each one’s individual needs at the moment. ”
    I think I’m VERY good at doing just this and moment to moment whichever child needs attention will get it (for about 60 seconds). That is the hardest part of having 3 kids, I’m still struggling just to get by.

  8. My kids are nearly the same age as the last commenter…nearly 3 boy/girl twins, and nearly 8 older sis.
    Occasionally boy twin will go with daddy for a boys’ activity, which usually starts with girl twin’s sobs and shrieks of “Buddy come with me!!” when she sets out with us girls. It breaks our hearts…but clearly, boy twin needs his time with daddy and enjoys it so much in our case. Girl twin ends up enjoying her day too, after the sobs subside, and she is convinced we are doing something “special”… We do a lot of just surviving too…and letting them work out what they need/want…but I too stress and guilt over this issue quite often! Thanks for all the thoughts shared here! I am kind of dreading preschool or kindergarten…whatever we decide to do…and the decision on whether to separate them there or not. YIKES.

  9. I also highly recommend “Emotionally Healthy Twins” and am trying to put some of those ideas into action around here. I did feel some sections were a bit much (mostly the chapter(s) directed at babies though) but in general the suggestions and theories seemed sound.

    That said, my ID girls at 21 months are together a LOT, and do have similar personalities and interests right now. We are trying to be careful to notice differences in personalities and interests, though, and get books/toys or go on outings to encourage that. I try to take one or the other twin out alone every weekend (just for errands, often) so that the other twin is home with Dad and big sister (3.5). Those times are really special for us!

    I also think its important for their older sister to have one-on-one time with each little sister. Having a 3rd child probably helps break up the twin-reliance since they both take turns playing with her, leaving the other to hang out with me or play by themselves. One definitely tends to play/enjoy playing along with big sis more than the other, which is fine but I am keeping an eye on it to make sure the second twin is not excluded too much.

    I am also intending to separate them for preschool, when the time comes. Same school, different classes. I want them to make their own friends and be seen as an individual and I don’t think thats possible together (esp since they are identical). We have a ways to go before then, however!
    .-= Kristin from Intrepid Murmurings´s last blog ..Line ’em all up! (aka out & about while outnumbered by toddlers) =-.

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