Having twins isn’t such a big deal anymore. It seems like everywhere you go there is a set of twins or triplets or even quads.
But although there are more of us mothers of multiples, I find that parents of “singletons” still aren’t sure of the rules of friendship.
I get it. To be honest, it’s dangerous ground. As a mother of girl-girl twins and another daughter just a year behind in school, most people think they are triplets. Nearly everyone I encounter is extremely kind and includes all three of my girls, but I’m not sure if that is the best course of action (for them or my kids) so I thought I would provide a few tips:
+ Do I have to invite both twins to my child’s birthday party/play date? In my opinion, twins should not mean a package deal, so the short answer is no. It’s your party and you can do whatever you want. Most parents of twins would not want their child to be excluded for the sake of the other. However, I would offer the following guideline: if your child is in the same class with both twins, or the twins feel that your child is their mutual friend, then know you are probably going to have some hurt feelings. If the twins are in separate classes, than no, you do not have to invite the other twin unless you want to and have the room.
I’ve heard some parents of multiples grumble about this, and they feel very strongly that it is both their kids of none of them. When it comes to this then you have to do what works for your child–and that may mean playing with neither of them outside of school. From my point of view twins — even identical — need to be treated more like siblings than a set. It is hard when one of my daughters gets invited to more events than the other, but it is an important lesson that life isn’t always fair. In some instances, it gives me an opportunity to talk about social skills and being a good friend to the one who does not get invited.
I am very appreciative when moms reach out and discuss the issue with me. For example, one mom said that she could only fit five girls in her car for a birthday outing, but she didn’t want my daughter’s twin to feel left out. I readily told her that it was fine, but I did respect the mom’s compassion towards my daughter and the heads up before the invite came so I could discuss it with them. It’s then my job as the mom to ensure my other daughter gets socialization of her own. If one of my twins gets to do something fun, I use that as an opportunity for some one on one time, or she gets to invite a friend of her own over for the day.
+ I have been invited to a twins birthday party….do we get them the same gift? I always look at gift giving as a choice and personal, but I understand why this is a dilemma for some parents who don’t want to hurt feelings. The short answer is I always think it’s good to tailor the gift to the individual, but do whatever works for you. For example, for years my girls often got Barbies as gifts where one was blond and the other a brunette (just like my fraternal twin girls.) Separate but equal. For some people who really knew both my kids, they would buy something based on each girls’ interest (e.g., a Hello Kitty puzzle for one and a horse puzzle for the other.) My kids personally were never a fan of joint presents because they had to share everything, but that being said, they knew better than to complain — and sometimes a special gift for both of them did become their favorite. Any parent worth their salt is not going to let any of their kids get wrapped up in the fairness of the presents (pun intended) so don’t stress out about it! The last thing I want to do is stress another parent out.
Sometimes parents of twins have a joint party, but let each child invite their own guests. If you receive this type of invitation, feel free to only purchase one gift for the child that invited your son or daughter. Parents of multiples usually set the expectation for their twins before the event.
+ My child only likes one of the twins and no longer wants to play with both of them…what do I do? This is a toughie but a common problem. Although most people think that multiples have a leg up on socialization, it usually is the exact opposite. Parents of multiples don’t always seek out as much social interaction for their children because they have an always-available playmate, and if they do try to set up playdates when they are young, it is not always reciprocated since some parents find hosting multiple children a daunting task. This means that multiples can be behind when it comes to social issues.
Keep in mind that parents of multiples are often receptive to individual playdates, but no parent likes to hear that another child doesn’t like their kid. Instead, keep it positive: “My son loved playing Legos with Brendan at school and wanted to invite him over to build a new set. I thought it would be nice if they got some one on one time together, does Thursday work for you?”
In the rare situation that a parent of twins pushes back and suggests that you invite both, keep it simple: “My son doesn’t do as well when there is more than one kid over at the house. If it doesn’t work for your family, I understand.” But unless you have something specific to address about the other twin’s behavior, don’t use that as your excuse. Chances are the other parent is painfully aware that one of their children is more socially adept than the other — or maybe the other twin isn’t looking to forge a friendship with your child either.
At the end of the day, if your child befriends a twin, a set of twins, or the Gosling sextuplets, do what works for you; but as you should for any child, keep in mind the feelings of the kids and their parents. And if you are unsure, talk about it with the parents and they can decide what works best for their families.