PARENTING

Tuesday Tips: on twins

twins_When we were vacationing in Morocco last week, we met a lovely British lady in a hotel who was staying there with her 7-year-old identical twin girls. We ended up following a cooking course together (tajines!) and while we were preparing the different delicious veggies and herbs, we were chatting about so many different things, amongst which how it is to raise twins. One of the things she mentioned really stuck with me, a very interesting insight that she got from a stranger on the streets of London when the girls were still babies.

She told me that a man stopped her when she was pushing her double buggy about, and said that he himself is one of a twin, and asked if he could share a piece of advice with her. He told her that if she possibly could, she shouldn’t share with her girls which one of the two in fact was the oldest. The amazing phenomenon of twins of course, is that they really are the same age, except for maybe those few minutes between the birth of the first one and that of the second. It is true that we all have a place in our families, you’re either the oldest, or the youngest, or a middle child (or an only child, like me). But with twins, there should’t really rest a position on their shoulders — they should simply be the same age.

So my new friend decided to follow the advice of this stranger, and never mentioned to her girls who was pulled out of her belly first when they were delivered by c-section. She said that at some point, when the specifics of delivering babies would occur to them and they would maybe ask, she would tell them of course, but until now the question had never come up, so she simply had never discussed it. So interesting! She also told me, that what she found fascinating, is that when the girls were immersed in roll playing and an imaginary world, they would naturally take on the roles of the ‘oldest’ and ‘youngest’ — according to how it really is! This could, of course, be accidental, but it is interesting to mention nevertheless.

Twin babyccinokids

Friends of ours in Amsterdam had identical twin girls this year who are now 8 months old (their 4th and 5th children!), so I mentioned my story to them and they also shared a piece of advice they got from an adult twin man — this friend of theirs told them never to speak about ‘the twins’ but to always stress the individuality of the girls by mentioning them by their own names. I can so see his point!

Raising twins is definitely different at times, and I would love to hear more interesting insights — maybe you are one of a twin, or maybe you have twins? Please share your tips and thoughts!

xxx Esther

PS The cute photos are of my dad’s little twin brothers, dating from the 1940s. Casper looks just like them I think!


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Comments (17)

Allison
November 10, 2015

I don’t remember where I heard this tip, but I thought it was genius for helping prevent people from constantly mixing them up… Whoever has the longer name has a longer hairstyle. I think it could potentially reduce the annoyance of being mistaken for one’s sibling, especially for identicals. Here in the Netherlands it seems common to split twins up when they go to school, into different classes and I think that must help with developing one’s own identity outside of being “the twins”. Growing up in Canada, my friends who were part of sets of twins were in the same class and I think that leads to a lot of comparison between them, which is tough. (E.g. who is smarter or sportier or more attractive) and then those labels are hard to overcome.


Courtney in London
November 10, 2015

I love these tips. And how sweet are those photos!! Casper really does look like them! xx


Ludivine
November 10, 2015

Yes, let them have their own identity!
I hated being dressed the same as my sister, being called “the twins” or having to share everything (no kid likes that! ).


Lisa
November 10, 2015

Fascinating – I totally believe in the birth order theory; my second is just like me in so many ways {I was the second in exactly the same gender / number of brothers and sisters}.

Thanks for sharing these thoughts!


November 10, 2015

Two of my nephews are twins and their mother has always insisted on calling them each one by his own name, just like your friends in Amsterdam. We almost never call them the twins, especially in front of them. These tips are very interesting and quite wise if you want each child to develop their own personality even though the two of them will forever have this very special bond no other two siblings will ever have. 🙂


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Stacy
November 10, 2015

What darling photos, and what an ” air de famille”. Casper really got a heavy dose of these genes!!


November 10, 2015

I have friends with twins that also chose not to disclose who was older – I think it’s so smart! It puts both children on an equal footing without any kind of “older/younger” tension.


RobinW
November 10, 2015

Great tips, and I agree. My twin girls are 3, and I try to never call them “the twins.” Sometimes I do slip and say, “the girls” but I guess even parents with children of different ages may do this sometimes. From day one I have tried to foster their independence, and I think they very much have their own personalities and sense of self, so far. There are times when I have second-guessed myself or even worried that their bond wasn’t strong enough, but that is usually in reaction to someone else’s observation. I think people who don’t have twins expect that all twins are glued at the hip and cannot function without that other, that they all have a “twin language” and that they have some kind of crazy psychic twin powers 🙂 Twins do have special bonds, but they are very much two different people and should be respected as such. In most cases I don’t dress my twins alike. Sometimes they are gifted the same outfit, or, for instance, for Halloween I will buy them the same shirt at Carter’s or whatever. But I want them to be able to look back and cherish their childhood as their own. I suppose some of that comes from my being an only child, and being very independent myself. 🙂 Thus far, neither has asked who is older, and after reading your blog post, I think I will not tell them unless they do ask later on. But it is interesting to see that my older twin (and it is only by 30 seconds! They were born by last-minute c-section), really does seem like the older sister. My best tips are for the parents themselves. Never measure your experience against your fellow parents of singletons or those with children of different ages. Do the best you can, and that will be enough. Parenting multiples is a very unique experience and you will daily have to navigate situations, even small ones, that never occur to people parenting one baby at a time. If your kids are loved, fed and cared for, you are nailing it. All the rest…the Pinterest boards, the artful bento boxes, the insanely elaborate family Halloween costumes…it’s all gravy. And when you ask that parent of older twins if it gets easier, and they ruefully comment that it’s just different, try to resist the urge to puke. And take my advice…it DOES get easier. Yes, each stage has its challenges, but I promise, it does get easier…and you’ve got this! xx


Vanessa in Scotland
November 10, 2015

Such great tips. And I love the one about longer name = longer hair! There are three identical sets of twins in Florence’s class and I can’t see the difference at all. I’m going to share these tips with them. Thanks Esther. x


Leah Prins
November 11, 2015

Really interesting thanks for sharing. A friend of mine had twins this year & now I will make the effort not to refer to them as the twins when talking about them! I wondered how come Casper looked so much like the boys in these photos – I love it when appearences & personalities traits appear in our families from different generations x


Emilie in Paris
November 11, 2015

Such cute photos. Casper really does look like them! I went to school with a pair of twins who had an older brother. At that time military/ civil service was compulsory for men, but the third brother got exempted. So when it came to the moment to enlist, the authorities had to look at which one of the two twins had been born the earliest and there was about 2 minutes separating them. How odd is that? x


November 13, 2015

I’m mother of 4 year old non-identical twin girls. They certainly throw up many challenges in the first few years of development that are hard for any parent of single, or different aged children to understand. I was lucky to meet a group of other mums who had twins roughly the same time as me and all of them have been invaluable support throughout the years. Even though the begining was hard, I absolutely loved having my daughters, watching their relationship build is fascinating and a joy. I agree, my main tip is never refer to them as ‘the twins’, it drives me insaine, they are two individual children at the end of the day. Interestingly as babies I rarely dressed them alike but now days they ask to have the same clothes as each other, I find this more frustrating than them, plus if they both like the same jumper, you can not deny one the pleasure. My other tips are don’t ask a parent of mutiples if they are identical if they are boy/girl twins or obviously different (yes this is asked by alot of people), don’t question their fertility “are they natural or did you have IVF?” (again I was asked this daily and it is a private matter). But my biggest tip to anyone who knows anyone who has just had twins, offer to help and cook them a meal, these are best gifts you can possibly give and they will love you for ever. x


Bibi
November 15, 2015

Thank you for this ! My girl and boy twins are 6 weeks old and I’m ok to take any advice in consideration. I already have a two year old boy and yes things are different….I agree that the best gifts are help, food and diapers.
I would like to ask you Esther if you are planning to do a resume of your Moroccan holiday as we are planning to go to Marrakech in March.


Ellen
November 18, 2015

I have identical twin boys who are now three and a half. They have an older sister and I think that was the best that could have happened to them. I never dressed them alike and they do go to different Kindergarten groups and that has helped a lot to develop their language. Before they were always hanging out together. It is so much tougher to raise them compared to my daughter. Make sure you are very fair because they can be extremely jealous. On the other hand they are best buddies and on a good day they can play together forever. On a good day that is… I agree it gets easier but small things like carrying one when he is tired can end in a total disaster. Something other parents can’t really understand. But then you see them holding hands and everything is forgotten. Try to see it as a gift that’s probably the best advice I can give.


Sarah
November 18, 2015

I’m an identical twin myself! I agree with all you have said, Esther, and love all these comments. Here’s another point I feel might be of help to anyone who knows a twin (a.k.a. everyone!)

Although I believe every parent should revel in the fact that they have twins, I find it frustrating when I see twins dressed alike, even as babies. This only leads to the misconception that twins are a unit, rather than two entirely separate individuals. Even if those in their lives know how different they are (or even how similar), it’s beneficial to let the world know that these are two individuals, and they should be treated as such (and it’s also helpful to twins themselves in forming their own identities). Of course, if they would like to dress alike, that’s fine as well!

Also! Separate playdates and classrooms are a must (if possible). xx Sarah


France
November 20, 2015

Liked this article having twins myself !

It’s funny you mentioned about not telling who is the eldest because i got the same advice from a man that had twins. However, i tend to disagree with that and i think i will tell the boys. We are all born being the first or the second or the last…and that defines who we are and it’s something we can’t change and have to deal with. I believe it’s the same for the boys, although it does not matter that much, it’s a fact. And why would i try to hide that from them ?

I currently live in Vietnam and i met a man from central Vietnam the other day who told me where he comes from the oldest is the one born last in twins. They believe the youngest gets kicked out by the oldest brother still in the belly. So it’s all very relative anyway 🙂

A last advice i got from a twin girl ( with twins sisters herself!) was to not try to push their individuality too much. To not try to absolutely want them to be in separate classes, have separate friends etc…she told ” It’s natural to them, they will have their whole life to be apart, so let them enjoy each other as much as they can” and i thought she was quite right. We’ll just let them be !


Emma
November 23, 2015

My identical twin sisters are also mirror twins one is left handed the other right, their hair parting and teeth cross in opposite ways and now they are grown up one lives in the uk and the other in Australia they where very different when they grew up one was girlie the other was a tomboy but they remind very close


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