Several of our friends and family members had twins this past years, so I thought it would fun to write some fun tips for parenting twins.
1) Names: You do not have to name your twins names that rhyme or are very similar to each other, like Sarah and Kara, Matt and Pat, Christian and Christopher, Michael and Michaela. Your twins are going to spend the rest of their lives being called the wrong names even if they not alike, why make it more difficult for people. My sis and I have very different names and people still can’t seem to get them right. I have been called Erica, Elizabeth, and of course Erin, because someone thought I was Erin and I have been called Brittany, Becky, Brianna, and even Jennifer, Heather or Rachel. It’s not fun to always be called the wrong name, so try and make it easy on people.
2) Identity: It's important that you treat the twins like separate individuals and not half of a person. Calling them "The Twins", "The Girls", or "The Boys" all the time, instead of using their names, can makes them feel like they are not important as an individual, but only as a team. Try to remember that they are two people with different interests and many times very different personalities and do not always need to be lumped together as one person. They already feel insecure and not important as an individual since nobody can remember and call them by the right name. My sis and I have a great relationship now and the best thing we did, in my opinion, is go to different colleges with different friends, so we could actually figure out who we are as individuals and not just as "the twin." I had friends at Bethel that knew I had a sister, but did not know I was twin and that's ok. I have to admit this was party to avoid the questions outlined in point number five.
3) Interests: I alluded to this in the earlier point, but sometimes the twins have different interests. One twin might be interested in math and baseball and the other twin might be more interested in music and tennis. THIS IS OK! They do not always have to do everything the same. If they have similar interests and friends, that's great, but it's not necessary. You also should avoid always comparing them to each other. Saying things like, "Your sister likes math and is good as baseball, aren't you supposed to good as math and like baseball too" does not help their self-esteem. What they hear is "You are so stupid. Why can't you be smart like you sister? Aren't you supposed to be clones of each other and do everything exactly the same?"
4) Gifts: You have two separate kids, so you don't always have to get one present “for both of them” for every occasion. Sometimes, it's ok to get two presents, one for each separately, that could even be different from each other. And if you have other kids and you spend $50 on a present for Sibling-non twin, then it's NOT OK to spend only $50 for the one present you bought for both twins. Do you see how that is not fair? You spent twice as much on the sibling-non twin, than you did for the each twin. This causes conflict because the twins will start to feel that you love the other sibling more and it will cause the twins to resent the other sibling and see them as spoiled. Or worse yet, they may start to resent being a twin and wish they weren’t and that can really hurt the relationship between the twins.
5) Questions: Start to prepare your kids really young for the really stupid questions and comments they are going to asked throughout their lives no matter how old they get. This is including but not limited to: There are so many more: Here are some more. Apparently, we are not the only twins that have been asked these questions.
* Did your mom always dress you alike as a kid? (Answer: Of course...)
* Did you try to switch places during classes to confuse your teachers? (Answer: No, this only works on TV or in movies)
* I think it would be cool to be a twin? Do you like being a twin? (Answer: No, I hate it....she says sarcastically)
* Do you ever wish you weren't a twin? (Answer: Of course, I wish every day my sister would die....she says sarcastically)
* Oh my gosh, I just say someone who looked just like you, are you related? (Answer: No, Oh my gosh I must have an evil twin out there that I have never met before. That is so cool...she says sarcastically)
* I think I'm seeing double, do you know you guys look really alike? Are you twins? (Answer: Oh my gosh, you are right. I never noticed that before. No, I have never met her before in my life. (Again usually said sarcastically)
* Who's older? (Answer: For us, we hate this question because we born via c-section so the answer is a few seconds, but why does that always matter to people. Most twins are born within minutes of each other, so who cares who's older.)
* Do you want twins when you get older? (Answer: I want healthy kids...and just one at time. If God blesses me with twins, that ok but it's his call, not mine)
* Do you think you will have twins since it runs in your family? (Answer: This is a common misconception. Identical twins are not genetic. They are random. The fact that I'm a twin and my mom is a twin is merely a fun coincidence. Fraternal twins are genetic and tend to skip a generation, on the female side.)
* You have the same birthday. Are you twins? (Answer: Duh!)
* My favorite one I get is: Does Steve ever get you two mixed up? (Answer: NO!)
Just in case someone reads this and gets the wrong idea, I do love being a twin. I'm sure Erin is laughing her head off while she is reading these questions and I'm sure she is thinking of others too. I know I was cracking myself up while writing it.