parents

The one thing you need to stop saying to my twins.

“Isn’t she pretty?” “What lovely eyes!” “How alert she is!” “She’s so friendly and happy”

There are the kinds of compliments any mother would love to hear about their baby. Unless you are the mother of twins. And these compliments are directed at only one of your babies.

stop treating my twins differently
Rebecca Huntley: “They are too young to be offended but I am offended for them.” Image: supplied.

Since having my fraternal twin girls 8 months ago, it has amused, astounded and on occasion highly annoyed me when friends, family and strangers have thrown around these comments, praising one of my girls and ignoring the other.

They are too young to be offended but I am offended for them.

When I first found out I was pregnant with twins I bought a couple of books about twins, as you do, to see what needed to be done. I already had a six year old but I suspected that having twin babies would be a bit different than having a singleton. Along with the advice about how to tandem breastfeed and whether or not to put them in the same cot, these books contained a lot of advice about how to ensure your twins felt like individuals rather than a one half of a whole.

One piece of advice was pretty straightforward, but I admit I find hard to always follow; don’t refer to them as ‘the twins’ all the time. Instead try to use their names as much as possible, including when you are talking about them to others. Recognise they might have different interests (which might mean dropping one off at soccer then speeding across to another suburb to drop one at ballet).  But the usual rule to limit rivalry applies to twins as it does to other sibling: Don’t compare and contrast all the time.

stop treating my twins differently
Rebecca Huntley’s fraternal twin girls. Image: supplied.
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Perhaps it’s something we feel we can do with twins more than with ‘normal’ siblings. Despite the greater prevalence of twins today (thanks to IVF and women having babies later in life), they are still a novelty of sorts. Like a science experiment we are all keen to witness. Sharing the same womb, birthday, parents and home life, will these two biologically connected beings end up being the same? Or wildly different?

How awful would it be though, how threatening to your self-esteem and to family unity, to grow up feeling as if the world liked you less than your twin? You both had the same start in life but you were the one that screwed it up. You could have been smarter, nicer, thinner, more accomplished! Why look at your twin sister!

stop treating my twins differently
“Perhaps it’s something we feel we can do with twins more than with ‘normal’ siblings.” Image: supplied.

Thankfully, from what I have observed this tendency (without malice and unintentional I am sure) for people to compare twins all the time doesn’t seem to impact too much on the bond between twins. Ever since I knew I was having twins, I’ve been inundated with twin stories, about the wonderful connection, support, love between twins, identical or fraternal, same sex or boy and girl.

In the vast majority of cases being a twin is a unique and wonderful experience, like having a best friend and a partner in crime for life. Hopefully, such a bond should be a natural shield to protect twins from the unthinking comments of strangers.

Click through the gallery below for more photos of twins.

For more like this, be sure to check out the posts below:

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12 parenting truths I’ve learnt from this crazy roller coaster.

WATCH: Mia Freedman chats about how technology has changed parenting.

David Campbell shares gorgeous photo of his newborn twins.

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