I have a pair of twins and am wondering how can I help them each have their own identity?
MOLLY: We received this question from a reader whose twins are in different classrooms at school and often don’t get invited to the same birthday parties. She also wondered if she should ask the host parent if she can bring the other twin?
Dr. Susan Rutherford (MOM): No, no, no, and no.
MOM: Twins have a very special relationship but as they grow up they need to separate off and feel that each is a whole person unto himself. I am a twin myself and have had a lot of experience with this.
There’s a special relationship between twins that often lasts a lifetime, but as you’re growing up, it’s very important to be in separate classes and to have separate friends. Generally twins should feel like they have each others’ backs (unless there’s something really bad going on between them), but they should each have their own sense of identity.
Adult angst often has a lot to do with the search for identity; think of a “mid-life crisis”! That’s all about the search for your own identity, and you don’t have to be a twin to experience this kind of angst. Twins need to establish their own sense of identity and not always be known as “one of the twins”.
MOLLY: How do you help them each set their own identity?
MOM: You do it in a natural way. Twins often have different interests and you want to encourage each one’s interests… maybe together when they are younger and more individually as they get older in elementary school. Twins can often have very different groups of friends because they have different personalities, and as a parent, you want to encourage that too.
MOLLY: Even if they are identical?
MOM: Yes, well, identical twins are probably a little different. I think it’s a little easier with fraternal twins like myself because the twins don’t look exactly alike. With identical twins, they are images of each other, but nevertheless, they still need to be viewed as separate individuals.
It’s always better to feel like you’re not just “one of the twins”. It’s okay from time to time, but you really want to make sure your twins each have a strong sense of being a separate self and and a unique, valued individual apart from their twin and from simply being a twin.
Comment below if you have success in helping your twins create their own identities. Or, Contact US if you have a parenting issue you would like to see addressed.