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Top 10 Things Not to Say to Twins

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People say the craziest things to -- and about -- twins and other multiples. Parents of twins, triplets and other multiples are accustomed to fielding stupid questions about their children, but even parents mistakenly make comments that might be hurtful or insensitive to their multiples' feelings. Here are some things that you should never say to twins or other multiples.

1. Why can't you be more like your twin?

It's difficult to avoid comparisons among twins. But even identical (monozygotic) twins are two distinct, unique individuals. Although they're often expected to be the same in every way, that's an unfair expectation. Appreciate each child for who they are, and don't ask them to measure up to each other. Each will have their own strengths and weaknesses.

2. You're the good/smart/pretty one and she's the bad/dumb/ugly one.

Twins are constantly compared and contrasted. People figure, if one is "this," then the other must be "that." But that's simply not the case. Just because one twin is physically attractive, that doesn't mean that the other is not. It's so important to appreciate each child as a unique individual, rather than evaluating him or her in relation to a co-twin.

3. I won't even try to figure out which one you are.

Every gets twins mixed up, especially if they have very similar appearances. But to say that you won't even try to identify them as individuals is really insulting. If you are confused as to who's who, just be honest. Make a guess -- your chances of being right are 50/50. Pretty good odds!

4. You were born first, you should act older.

Birth order simply isn't relevant with twins. By expecting a firstborn multiple to "act" older, you unreasonably place expectations on her. Every set of multiples will establish their own relationship dynamic. One may assume the role of leader, but it really has nothing to do with who was born first.

5. Twins aren't as smart as singletons; they share a brain.

That's simply not true. There is no evidence to support the idea that twins aren't as intelligent than singletons. Children that are multiples do sometimes have a higher incidence of speech delays but that is not a reflection of intelligence. When a fertlized egg splits, as in monozygotic twins, each half receives an equal number of cells and develops completely. The brain cells aren't "shared" or "divided."

6. Why do you need a friend? You have each other.

Multiples do have a special relationship. One of the biggest benefits of being twins is having a readily available playmate. However, it's important for twins and multiples to cultivate relationships outside of each other. Parents, especially, should be sensitive to their multiples' need to develop friendships, and provide opportunities for play time with friends outside the family.

7. Why don't you look more alike?

It's a misconception that twins should be a matched pair. One of the first questions that people ask about twins is, "Identical or fraternal?" There's a general expectation that twins should look exactly alike, and even a sense of disappointment that two individuals aren't more alike. No two individuals are ever exactly alike, and multiple birth children should be appreciated for their own unique qualities, not compared to their co-multiple.

8. Double Trouble!

This phrase is often tossed about in association with twins, but it's an unfair stereotype. Most parents would agree that twins are double fun, double joy, and a double blessing, not double trouble. No child should be labeled as "trouble," especially for a birth characteristic that they have no control over.

9. I can't remember who's who, so I'll just call you "the twins"

Multiples are individuals, not part of a set. They deserve to be recognized as such. Labeling them "the twins" overlooks their unique individuality. If you really don't know who's who, just ask!

10. What's it like to be a twin?

This is kind of a silly question to ask of twins. It would be like asking a singleton, "What's it like not to be a twin?" or "What's it like to breathe?" Twins don't know any other way of life; they've always been twins, and they always will be.

Share Your Thoughts

What about you? Are you a twin or a parent of twins? I'd like to hear your thoughts about "what not to say" to twins. Click on the link to submit a comment.

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