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.
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."
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.
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.
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.