Thursday, June 9, 2011

Me on TLC Parentables: Multiple Personalities

I've got a new post up on Parentables this morning.  It's about the compulsion people have to define kids' personalities as soon as they start emerging, and how that seems to be especially true with multiples.  Here's how it starts:

Multiple Personalities

I only have two kids, and they happen to be twin girls who will be two years old in a couple weeks.  So I'm a bit hesitant to make generalizations about multiples, since I've never had any other family configuration with which to compare the experience.

Despite not being an expert on the differences between multiples and singletons, I have figured out a few things that people want to know about twins from participating in the following conversation approximately one million times:

Nice Stranger: Oh my gosh!  They're so cute!

Me: Thank you!  I agree!  I thought I was the only one who felt that way.

Nice Stranger: How old are they?

Me: Almost two.

Nice Stranger: Oh wow.  They're really close in age then.

Me: Yeah.  They're, um, twins.

Nice Stranger: But they're not...

Me: Identical?  Nope.  Fraternal.

Nice Stranger: But they're both...

Me: Girls.  Yup.

I give the friendly stranger a minute to process the information--to search the archives for the rudimentary knowledge of genetics that they gleaned from their 10th grade biology class.

No, twins do not have to be identical. Yes, they are called "fraternal" even if they are girls.  Yes, human gestation takes about 40 weeks, so singleton siblings are usually quite distinct from one another, especially in the earlier years.

I used to be shocked when people didn't realize that our kids were twins right away.  Although they don't look very similar, they are exactly the same size, and, you know, at the same developmental stage.  Because they're twins.  Sometimes I'm tempted to say they're three months apart and just let the stranger stew on that for a while.

read more on TLC Parentables...


I also wrote  a couple shorter pieces on Parentables that might interest you:

Thanks for reading!


  1. My neighbor who had fraternal girl/boy use to go thru the same convo as you... The downside was that she has an older girl who was about 3 at the time... Little do people know that all the gooing and gagaing about twins is sweet, but if there is another sibling within ear shot it can be hurtful to them... I use to hear the older sibling saying things under her breath.. Heck my two girls who are about 2 1/2 years apart, the older one use to think that only 'blonde' haired girls were choice...
    Twins are unique- not only because they share the same space inutero, but the fact that there is that bond.... You would think nowadays twins were more of the norm as single births?

  2. Interesting in terms of what is normal for one is not for another and how people process this.

    This topic really got me to thinking about genetics and psychology regarding identical twins (I have a degree in psychology).

    Related, I have a friend with identical twins, but she refused to even test to determine if they were at birth. She wouldn't even acknowledge that they were identical twins (or at least to me).

    It of course became obvious over time. Still she would only talk about how different they were (never similar) and later when they were of school age she made sure to find a school where they could be put in different classes.

    For me this is strange, but perhaps her method is best for allowing the twins to become completely self sufficient adults.

    I don't know, but still, I find the topic of identical twins fascinating.

  3. People are dumb when it comes to twins.

  4. and I would have said to her, "Ma'am, they're a little like your breasts. They were born at the same time and are about the same size, but they still look different."

  5. @KBF--My wife worries that, if we had another girl (which is not to say that we are even seriously thinking of having more kids), she would feel overshadowed by the "cute," "special" twins.

    @David--That does seem very strange to me too. Fighting so hard against something that's kind of bound to happen (i.e. identical twins being similar) seems like it can only backfire. And, yeah...identical twins, and the studies that have been done on them, are totally fascinating.

    @Ed--Good call! Maybe I should have asked her to lift her shirt up so I could use her breastssesses as a visual aid.

  6. Haven't been around in awhile, good to read your blog again.

    The woman David was talking bout, wonder if she is a twin herself or had twins in family, reason she was so determined they have separate lives.

    Did I see you ask the ? somewhere? Blogger is having problems specially with followers disappearing then reappearing. Found a techno guys blog that keeps up with such stuff.

  7. @4Dreamers--Haven't been around? Well, I trust you won't be a stranger any more. That's a good theory. Someone who felt had to wear identical outfits and get the same haircuts as their twin could be pretty resentful, it seems.

    Re: technical stuff--I've been griping all over about Blogger lately. My "search this blog" function doesn't work, followers disappear and reappear, and now somehow I think the "stats" function is counting pageviews from my friend's (waaay more popular) blog. And another friend said that when she searches for stuff on her blog's search function, it comes up with Beta Dad posts. Weirdness.

    So who is this tech wizard who can solve the Blogger riddle?

  8. I get the same looks. But because they are less than 6 months know. Adoption and all that. But the older one is smaller than the younger one but has more hair and makes people pause. I just pretend they don't understand "fraternal." :-)


Don't hold back.


Related Posts with Thumbnails