Every parent of twins has heard the term. “Double trouble,” remark your friends when you told them you were having twins. “Double trouble!” exclaim strangers when they see you with your twins in a double stroller at the mall. “Double Trouble” scream the headlines in the media when the topic is twins.
Some find it cute, some find it annoying, and others find it offensive. Are twins really “double trouble?” Or is it just a saying? What does it really mean?
What Does Double Trouble Mean?
When people say “double trouble” to parents of twins, they are usually referring to the extra challenges and burdens of raising two children at the same time. Twice as many feedings and diaper changes, doubled expenses for food, clothing, education and activities. The phrase seems to be a euphemism for “Oooh, that’s going to be tough.” What they are really saying is, “Good luck with that; glad it’s you and not me!” They are trying to veil a negative comment by utilizing a cute rhyme.
Examples of Double Trouble Titles
The title “Double Trouble” has been utilized for many books and television shows. Double Trouble was the name of an American television show in the 1980’s starring real-life twins and also the name of an Elvis Presley movie. It’s the name of a song in a Harry Potter movie and a 50’s song by Otis Rush. Amazon.com lists hundreds of books titled Double Trouble, in genres from romance to children’s books to comic books. Most of the plots involve twins in some capacity. The prevalence of this phrase in popular culture and the media expresses the fascination with twins and twinning, yet also reflects a lack of understanding about the reality of living life as or with twins.
The phrase “double trouble” does not generally ring a pleasant note for families with twins. Because families with multiples tend to attract a lot of attention, they are often in the public eye. They hear this comment all the time. For the most part, parents of twins don’t consider their children double trouble. Rather, they are a double joy or a double blessing. Twins certainly don’t consider themselves double trouble. They are unique individuals, like everyone else, except for the fact that they happened to undergo a simultaneous gestation with a sibling.
Double Trouble = Naughty
Double trouble could also be a reference to the stereotype that twins are mischevious, naughty rascals, generating havoc wherever they go. This stereotype is perpetuated in television and movies. (Think The Suite Life of Zack and Cody or the Rugrats twins.) Where one child can cause some chaos, two together can really raise a ruckus. The saying “Two heads are better than one...” definitely applies to twins when it comes to making trouble! Together, two twins will definitely make more messes and engage in more antics than the ordinary single child. They’ll use each other as step stools to climb to higher heights. They’ll give each other confidence to explore further afield. Their innate sense of competition spurs them on, daring each other to try things in an “I’ll do it if you’ll do it” mentality. Don’t discount the power of twin temerity.
Parents of twins will definitely want to employ creative childproofing techniques to protect their home -- and twins -- from these escapades. Eventually, however, they will make for great memories and family stories. (Submit your stories here.)
Parenting Twins is Not Double Trouble
Most parents of twins will tell you that having twins is not “double trouble.” While there are certainly additional expenses and challenges, the arrival of twins is a welcome addition to most families. Any extra burden is counterbalanced by the increased love and joy that each child brings to the family. Having twins is not twice as hard as having one child; parents quickly learn to be proficient in the simultaneous caretaking of their children. There are many built-in efficiencies in parenting two children of the same age; for the most part they undergo the same phases and stages at the same time. There’s less multi-tasking when your children are the same age, so you can focus on managing one milestone at a time.
How to Respond to Double Trouble
If you’re a parent of twins, how should you respond when you hear “double trouble”? Well, that depends on how it makes you feel. To some, it is just a ubiquitous annoyance. To others, it’s downright offensive. (Who wants their children labeled “trouble”, especially when it is expressed in their presence?) If it bothers you, feel free to develop a polite yet firm rejoinder. Some parents recommend:
- “Not double trouble, double joy.” (or double blessing)
- “Actually we feel really lucky to have twins.”
- “Well, that may be your opinion.”
- “Thank you, but I think otherwise.”