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Parenting Twins: Personalities & Behaviors

Q. Is one twin smarter than the other?
Laughing Boys and Girls Laying on Floor

A. Of all the questions we're asked, this is the only one that really does provoke me. Largely because it is asked in the twins' presence! Sadly, many adults seem to think that if a child cannot speak, they cannot understand. My method of subtly "enlightening" the asker (without resorting to overt condemnation) is to physically bring the twins into the conversation. Lovingly rubbing both heads, I tend to respond, "I'll bet if you ask Darren, he'll say he is. No doubt Sarah thinks she is. Personally, I think they are both very smart."

The questions behind the question: "Twins aren't completely alike, are they?" and "How will you deal with the varied skills between them?"

Q. Do you find yourself "favoring" one over the other?

A. Again, this is a rather horrifying question to be asked in your twins' presence. Usually I have used these occasions to clearly delineate that there are certainly behaviors I favor, but both twins are loved equally.

As a mom, sometimes you may need to remind yourself that when you feel particularly frustrated with one twin for behavioral reasons, it is not that you favor his/her sibling. When you are exasperated and exhausted, remember to separate the act from the actor. Don't guilt yourself into believing you "favor" one of your twins.

The questions behind the question: "Maternally, is it worse to compare twins than other siblings?" Some "comparison" is inevitable; but so is a mother's love for her children; whether born within minutes, months, or years of each other.

Q. Do they have a special "twin language" only they understand?

A. They certainly have their own indecipherable nonsense words they have created and reused, but those words seem to have no communicated meaning. Not to minimize or cast doubt upon those parents whose twins actually do have their own twin-speak, I think a lot of same-age non-twin infants/toddlers, if in constant presence of one another, might have some level of unique "language" or communication between them.

The questions behind the question: "Are your twins the 'extra connected' variety, or just 'regular'?" Whether your twins communicate via idioglossia (the medical term for "twin-speak") or English, they are special, and have an undeniable connection.

Q. Do they sleep at the same time?

A. They go to bed at the same time every night, and we get them up at the same time every morning. Whether they actually sleep simultaneously each hour of the evening, I don't know. As parents, we're trying to sleep too; so unless we get a loud mid-evening indicator that one (or both) isn't using the time to actually sleep, we assume they are at least resting quietly. Daddy and I certainly make every effort to give them a predictable, conducive environment to do whichever they can.

The questions behind the question: "Are you perpetually exhausted?" This question always warms my heart a bit, as it seems the asker has either had sleep challenges with their children, or can vividly imagine (and sympathizes with) the difficulty in trying to get parental rest with two infants in house. If the questioner seems truly interested in more detail, I will reveal that in those very early days/weeks, even with a regimented schedule, getting rest was tough. With each passing day, with continued consistency of routine, and with two great kids (cue to rub the twins' heads) it does get much, much easier.

Cheryl Lage is a full-time, fully fulfilled mom to fraternal twins Darren and Sarah. During twin-synchronous sleeping hours, she is the Web host of www.twinsights.com, a Web support site for new and expecting twin parents.


Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, May 2006.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.