On Fostering Individuality in Twins

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to encourage Addison and Mackenzie's sense of individuality.  The issue seems to be one that most twin parents think about at one time or another, whether their twins are fraternal or identical, but as a mom of identical girls, it is especially important to me that they are not always seen as "the twins" or treated like a carbon copy of one another.

There is a book we read often at bedtime, Just in Case You Ever Wonder, that tells a child how special they are and how their parents and God will always love them and take care of them.  There is a passage that says something like this...

If you looked all over the world, in every home, there would be no one like you.  No one with your eyes, no one with your mouth, no one with your laugh...
 It's always at this part that I wonder when one of the girls will begin to realize that someone does have her eyes, nose, and mouth?  I put emphasis on the "laugh" part, because that's one very distinct feature between the girls.  (I should point out that their eyes and mouths actually look pretty different to me too...but other people aren't going to notice it, and I know they are going to grow up hearing comments about how they look just alike.)

I know the girls don't (and hopefully won't ever!) understand that some people may see it as a disadvantage that they had to share everything, including their looks, from the moment they entered this world.  I hope, I hope, I hope that they see it as a distinct advantage...they will always have someone around to talk to or play with...they will always have a friend close by and someone to take their side. And after all, they won't understand what it's like not to have to share everything with 'sissy'; it's just a fact of life for them.

Still, I want to make sure my girls know that I love them equally and individually.  I don't love them more or less because they're twins; I love them each for exactly WHO they are.  I want to make sure we allow the opportunity and encouragement for each of them to pursue the things they are interested in and to find what makes them happy, regardless of whether or not it is the same thing her sister enjoys.  If one loves dance and the other loves gymnastics...wonderful!  If they both love music and want to learn to play an instrument...equally wonderful!  

I guess what I'm saying is that I want them to come to the determination of who they are and who they want to be without necessarily regarding their twinship.  Yes, their twin bond will undoubtedly influence them throughout their lives, and that's awesome...I just want to be sure that it doesn't define them.

My sister sent me this on Pinterest that I think kind of sums up my feelings on the issue.  I'm thinking of printing this quote and framing it for their bedroom...kind of a mantra of sorts:

Source: etsy.com via Deanna on Pinterest

This is just a start on this broad subject that I'm sure will be present in my thoughts for many, many years.  But I'm curious...Have you thought about how to foster individuality in your twins?  How do you plan to handle it in your family?


  1. I would be very concerned with this if I had twins. But also, I feel this is applicable because Jonas's cousin is less than a year older, and I can already see family comparing the two (and sometimes trying to turn things into competition - "Oh, well, cousin did that at 12 months 2 weeks, and Jonas hasn't done it yet. But he will. Don't worry." It's hard.

    I think just being mindful not to compare the girls will go a long way for fostering individuality in them. And you're already doing that!

  2. I love, love, love that quote. Dr. Seuss actually has a lot of good stuff to say. :)

    I don't think I've spent a lot of time thinking about individuality...maybe it's because of our girls' age, and that not being any kind of "issue" yet...or maybe it's because truly concentrated one-on-one time is not very feasible right now, so I just know I'm doing the best I can...and certainly maybe because I think our girls look so different from each other, I don't think it will be as big of a challenge with others' perceptions.

    When I force myself to think about the question, though, I feel like our girls are so very different, not just physically. They move at different speeds and play with toys in different ways. Some of their skills sets are very similar, but I can see certain strengths in each of them, different from the other. Because of that, even though they are in lock-step with each other 98% of the day, I think I'm forced to relate to them differently. It's not a conscious effort, by any stretch, but I think that's likely the case.

    So...I hope I'm not missing the boat by not having thought about this more...but right now I feel like we're all doing OK.

    Great post, Deanna!

    P.S. Hope your sale goes well...and ROOOOOLL TIDE!!! :) :)

  3. great post!! and love the quote.

    i think that this is something that is always in the back of my mind...but something that i often feel is not AS much of an issue for b/g twins. it's harder to compare a boy and a girl...they are SO different (even if someone asks on a DAILY basis if they are identical. lol).

    i do see having a twin as an advantage though. for many of the same reasons that you do. i wonder if i'm trying to force too much togetherness, though. most of our activities are done together. maybe i should start some kind of "m" or "t" time where they get to pick the activity and if they want to do it alone?

    maybe this will all become much clearer when the kids get a little older?

  4. I can't think of once when I thought my mom "loved" my twin sister more but a thousand times when I thought she "loved" our older sister more! Ha! Your girls will grow up knowing that they aren't exactly like their friends, but that being/having a twin is a HUGE blessing in a million ways!

  5. I just started my twin 4 year old girls in preschool and after discussing it with the principal placed them in separate classes. I was surprised by the back lash I received from my family, especially the older women and especially MY mom who is also a mom of girl twins (my older sisters). I feel it was an important decsion to start their educational path as separate but equal identities. But it gave me time to pause, was I being too harsh on my girls, they are just 4 and never really spent much time apart other than the ocassional "date" we take them on one on one. I guess it is one of those things that you make the decision and hope for the best. So far so good.


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