Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 0:00
If your little ones could tell you what they're really thinking and how they feel about your twin parenting strategy, what would they say? Would they tell you that they love dressing like or absolutely hate it? Will they ever appreciate all that effort that you've put into giving them opportunities to express themselves as an individual? Well, today we can hit the fast forward button and talk to adult twins about their experience growing up, and what they wish their parents knew when they were young. And we'll also get a professional perspective from twin expert Dr. Joan Freedman. This is twin talks. The ultrasound shows your babies to be healthy. What did you say babies?
Unknown Speaker 0:38
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Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 0:55
If you're pregnant with twins, or you're an experienced twin parent, odds are you've heard it all before. Now it's time to hear from the experts. This is twin talks, parenting times two. Welcome to twin Talks. My name is Christine Stewart Fitzgerald, and I'm your host. Now I have identical twin girls who are now 14 years old and also a singleton girl who is 11 years old. So needless to say, My husband is completely outnumbered. And he's accepted the fact that he has to learn how to do braids and buns for cheer and gymnastics for the next few years. It won't be football. We have attempted to help our girls create separate identities and practical ways. But honestly, I'm very curious about what our guests may have to say. So in just a moment, I'll introduce our guests for today's discussion discussion. Now, if you haven't already, be sure to visit our website and new mommy media.com And subscribe to our weekly newsletter, which keeps you updated on all the episodes that we release each week. And another way to stay connected is to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you're looking for a way to get even more involved in our show, then check out our membership club. It's called Mighty moms. And that's where we chat more about the topics that we've discussed here and on our show. And it's also an easy way to learn about our recordings so you can join us live. Well, let's meet our guests today. I want to start with our star guests, Mikayla and Nicole sellin, who are adult identical twins, who have may not have always had experienced parenting that promoted individuality. So we're going to get their perspective. And before we get into all the practical parenting of their childhood, let's take a look at who they are today. So let's start with Mikayla. Can you share just a little bit about yourself as an adult and what you're doing today?
Yeah, for sure. So thank you, first of all for that nice intro, Christine. So my name is Michaela. I'm 22 years old. I live a little bit outside of Toronto, Canada. Right now I'm working full time in retail. And then like just a little bit about me. I really like to work out. I'm a big like avid runner. I actually just did my my first marathon in October. So that was Thank you. But yeah, I'm super excited to be on the podcast today.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 3:17
Well, welcome. Okay. And Nicole. So how about you? So tell us a little bit about yourself?
Yeah, so I'm also really excited to be here. Thank you for having us. I myself also I'm really into fitness and running. Over the summer I kind of dabbled in triathlon, which was really fun. And right now I'm also working until I decide what I want to go back to school for. And I'm hoping to get on to a volunteer firefighter department.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 3:43
Oh, wow, that sounds very strenuous. Very cool. Okay, and then also weighing in under discussion today is our expert, Dr. Joan Freedman. So she is a prominent and well respected psychologist and author with a focus on cognitive, behavioral and relational aspects of twins. And she has an especially unique qualification as an identical twin herself and also as a mother of twins. So she's written several books including same but different and emotionally healthy twins, which can help adult twins and parents twins better understand and navigate healthy twin dynamics. So Dr. Freeman, I am just so glad to have you back on your show on our show. I know you've been a guest in the past and we I feel like I learned so much every time. So thank you so much.
Joan Friedman 4:32
Well, thank you for having me. And thank you so much for doing the segment on adult twins. I absolutely adore treating adult twins. I find the whole subject to be fascinating, illuminating and so needed, and so many people don't understand that adult twins might need a little help from time to time. Because if you're not living the stereotype of soulmates best friends and you're connected forever It's hard for people to understand that it's very normal from the way that twins develop that they may, you know, encounter some developmental bumps along the way, just like Singleton's do. So I'm delighted that we're exploring this subject. And I'm delighted that that Kayla did Mikayla and Nicole will help us sort of navigate some of those issues. All
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 5:22
right, well, thank you. So today we're getting the scoop about what twins really think about some of the common twin parenting practices as we talk to adult twins who've been through it all. So let's dive in. So let's let's start talking to our guests. Nicole Mikayla about the things that pretty much all twin parents do. So I think probably the one of the first things that comes to mind is dressing twins, like so I know, as a twin parent and also identical twin girls, I can say that we often do it because it's easy. I mean, and sometimes it's because it's cute. And we get the cute factor like Oh, but honestly, I have to put it out to you guys. How How do you feel about that? Did your did your parents dress you like when you were young?
They did. Yeah. So when we always talk to them about it, they always say they had the intention of starting us like dressing us differently. And then they started to get a lot of gifts and things from people when we were really young. And obviously it was all the same stuff. And so they kind of I guess fall into that as well and started to dress as like. And I think when we were younger, as we probably like five or six age, we did enjoy dressing like because that's what was kind of normal. And then as we got older, we didn't like it so much. And it was kind of we were trying to like separate ourselves, we were already kind of struggling with identity issues a bit. So dressing us like we were trying to do everything differently. So we would check in with each other like school in high school. Yeah, we had to wear uniforms, and we had to separate colors. It was either a blue shirt or a white shirt. Every morning. It was like Nicole, are you wearing the white or the blue shirt? And then it was like, Okay, if I wear white, then you're wearing blue. So that was kind of frustrating to have to you couldn't go about your morning routine without like checking in with somebody else. You had to always be like, Oh, are you wearing this sweater? Are you wearing this shirt, and we kind of had to go wear whatever we wanted based on what the other person was doing so.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 7:30
Well, so now. Okay. I'm curious. So, Robert, when you were little, I mean, there's I can say I've observed, you know, like stranger saying, you know, oh, it's so cute. There's, there's there's this cuteness factor. And I don't know if you remember when you were young. Did you enjoy that? And then and then as you decided you didn't want to dress? Uh, like did that change? Was it I mean, in response to the way that people treated you? Just curious, like, what was what was kind of some of the triggers around that? Yeah,
Speaker 1 8:01
so I think definitely, when we were younger, it probably like we probably liked the attention of kind of dressing the same. It drew in a lot more people to notice that we were twins. And I think kind of as we got older, we kind of got not annoyed, but it we kind of just got tired of like everyone asking us oh my gosh, are you twins and kind of stopping us in public stare? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So we kind of wanted to move away from that and just kind of have our own clothing so that maybe it wasn't as noticeable that we were twins. But I mean, still it probably didn't work because we still kind of even today, people say oh my gosh, are you twins? But yeah, I think so as you get older as well, you get more at least for us, we both like kind of got more self conscious. And I think dressing like brought more attention to it. Because obviously you look like people are gonna notice. And so there was more staring and more, I guess unwanted? Yeah, attention. So it was kind of like, well, maybe we need to start dressing differently. So we kind of take away some of that attention.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 9:05
And do you remember like, I mean, like, due to how old you were when you just kind of made that? You know, I know it was a gradual shift to say, Hey, I'm really not excited about this. This kind of attention. I kind of want to fly under the radar. I mean, were you like teenager, young teenagers or tweens? Yeah, I
think it was towards the end of like elementary school. And yeah, we have grade eight. And then we go into high school grade nine and 10. So probably towards the beginning of high school probably is when we really started to dress differently and kind of pull away from that.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 9:38
And did your did your parents support you in that?
Speaker 1 9:43
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, they they kind of just let us do our own thing once once we kind of said like, okay, we're sick of getting stared at like being stared at and everything. They were just Yeah, they were fine for us to dress differently. And when we got older, we were like buying our own clothes and things but I I can remember when we were younger, if you would open up our closet, it would be duplicates of every shirt every pan, like literally the closet would just double of everything.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 10:10
Yes, no, I can relate to that. So I'm guilty as dark. So Dr. Friedman, I don't know, do you want to do weigh in on that? I mean, I since this is kind of a common thing, are there? You know, should parents, you know, is there any reason why parents shouldn't do this from the beginning? Should maybe parents should, from the very beginning, say, Okay, now let's just make a point of making everything different.
Speaker 2 10:35
A Christian, you know how crazy I am. Right? So. And this comes from, I was dressed like with my twin sister till we were 10 years old, basically didn't have any clue about what was going on, nor did my parents. So I, you know, listening to Nicole and listening to Mikayla, I think, you know, kind of what's underneath their struggle was is that they were basically always identified as twins. And as I said, why it was it was fine, it was cute when they were younger, and they got a lot of attention. As you get older, and you get more self conscious, and you have all this unwanted attention. And maybe you want to have attention for your own individuality or for who you are as a person, I might think the dressing like really does inhibit or prevent other people from making friends with twins. And I think the friend thing is a big issue. And I'm not saying it's completely directly related to dressing like but but when when other children want to make friends with other children, this identity quality of dressing like it kind of means that they have to make friends with both of them. And if I've heard more from adult twins, what they suffered with growing up, it was this whole question of not having their own friends, but having to share twins having to share friends. And that was really a very difficult kind of peer situation that they found themselves in for for much of their school life. And I think that's a very difficult thing to navigate. It's hard enough when you're a singleton, but all that peer pressure and cliques and groups, and if you're just kind of viewed as a unit or a dyad. And that's how people relate to you, I don't know how, how twins who are stuck in that situation, can really find their own separate friendships. So I know I'm going off on a limb and I'm sorry, but I think the dressing the like is like the sameness the identical reality, the duality, you know, interfering at times, not with all twins, but with some twins with kind of a burgeoning sense of their own separateness and their own identity. So I don't think in the long run, or in the short run, it does very much to dress them alike. Except I understand it's easy. Except, you know, it may be you know, you have less fighting over clothes, but I feel it being able to pick your own clothes, no matter what age you are, like two years older, or 20. Being able to pick what you want to wear is such, I don't know an expression of who you are, and how you want to look and how you want want to be perceived. So I see it as a much more complex issue than just having it be easy to have them wear the same outfits. Well, that's
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 13:27
a really interesting point. Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Yeah, no worries. I was just gonna say I can remember. We no one knew us by our names. It was twins. Twins are like sisters, it was it was never like zelens Yeah, there's never been a polar Mikayla, it was just the twins. And we hated that our friends would cause twins come over our twins do this, like even our cousins, and some of our family members would do the same thing. So really was like, it was tough to kind of have your own identity when you're only known as twin.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 13:57
So it sounds like me. So parents could help by I mean, in two ways, a, I'd say giving the friends and schoolmates and classmates and extended family members, sort of sort of help them visually with having, you know, different differences and making it easier for external friends to make that distinction. And then I think I'm also hearing that, you know, in not assigning this, the sameness then it's giving the kids a sense maybe of autonomy from from the very beginning, rather than, Oh, I actually, you know, earning that permission or I don't know, to choose what you might want to wear. So that's that's a really interesting thought that I've, I'm learning right now. So now I just wanted to, you know, ask also when we talk about sharing clothes, how about sharing other things as well. So Nicole and Mikayla, can you tell us a little bit about when you were growing up and Things that you shared and the things that you had on your own. I mean, like toys and clothes, maybe you're sharing a bedroom? How did it make you feel when you're sharing those items? And would you do it differently?
Oh, yes. So I would say for the most part, pretty much everything for Nicole and I was was shared, whether it was clothing rooms, toys, like it was the same thing with the clothing situation where it was like, if one person had a toy, then there was a duplicate. Same classroom, like Same, same party like same same everything to be honest. And I think like, if I were to go back, and maybe like, tell my parents, if I could, I would probably say, to just maybe put us let's say, like in a in an extracurricular, that was different or something just so we could have something to call our own. And I think because of that, because of like, when we were little, everything was shared. I think now as adults, Nicole and I have both really, really tried and force ourselves to kind of do things on our own, just to kind of compensate for what we kind of lacked in our childhood.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 16:12
That's interesting. And Michaela, I mean, sorry, Nicole, if you've have, you know, another some added ideas, as well as like, did you find that as well that you would have wanted to have done things just slightly differently? And maybe it was, you know, doing extracurricular activity or different school? You know, programs?
Yeah, definitely. So, like in elementary school, we were in the same class every single year, I think it was one year that we were apart. And funny enough, that was the year that each of us made our own friend. And then after that, we were put into classes, all the same, I think probably we had probably when we were younger, and probably what, five or six, we should probably ask because it was comfortable. It was easy. We didn't have to make friends because we had each other and we struggled to make friends. Because obviously we had each other and didn't really, we have a security blanket, right to always fall back to. So we had probably asked, I think around like five or six to be put in the same classes. And I although I think our parents were trying to do what kind of what we wanted and try to make us happy. It probably wasn't the best decision because then that kind of impacted our ability to make friendships and relationships with other people later on. And then even up until high school, it became like we became so codependent on each other that it was like, we were asking like our school, like our school to be in every class together, because it was out of like, such habit to be in the same class. And we relied on each other. So yeah, so yeah, I think you might like for parents, it might be your kids might want to like be together, which obviously it's comfortable. And it's scary to be on your own. But if you can get over that hump, I think would be beneficial in the future. Because you have your own independence. And you're, you're able to be on your own a little more and less, I guess codependent on a sibling.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 18:12
Gotcha. And now I am curious to I know, we're talking about this school and activities. And also just like for bedroom bedroom spaces. I mean, this seems to be a thing I know. Most often when you know, babies are put in the same crib, you know, the crib, side by side and the nursery and then eventually, over time, you know, the, you know, kids might get their own space. Did you find that that was a challenge for you? You know, growing up, did you feel like you had your own space at home.
So we started in the same like I our childhood home, we were in the same room for quite a while our parents separated. And when we moved into our mom's house, we had our own rooms. And I feel like in the beginning I can remember the both of us being like nervous and scared to be on our own. It was a new house. We were like separated. But eventually we enjoyed it. We had our own space, which was really nice for the first time. So yeah, definitely having your own space. was was really nice. Oh, that's
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 19:13
great. And Dr. Friedman, so so so how is it important for twins to have things of their own? Maybe you can give some examples of you know, how parents can create that sense of, of maybe personal space or ownership?
Speaker 2 19:29
Well, I think Nicole and Makayla, you know, really talked about this in a very beautiful way about how, you know, not having enough of something that your own can really, you know, contribute to an over reliance on one another and an inability to sort of form and formulate your own sense of yourself. So, yes, if I mean, I know not all families have the capacity to have a separate room. But I think if you do it's really wonderful. I think you know, have twins having space from one Another after being with each other 24/7. It's really, it's really something lovely where they can learn how to be alone, maybe fall asleep alone, kind of soothe their self alone. Because again, just as Mikayla and Nicole said, it's like, they rely on each other for security, and they don't learn how to kind of take care of themselves without their twin there. And that's something that, you know, you need to learn how to do gradually, as when you're younger. So having a separate room, if it's available is great. But again, you have to do it when the twins are ready. It's the same thing. Like if you have, you know, separate classes, or you end up being in separate schools, the whole transition has to be done with a lot of thought, you can't just say, Yeah, we're doing this, I mean, because a lot of twins, you don't want to traumatize them into feeling that separation is terrifying. So the whole idea of them not sharing certain things has to be done, whatever it is you choose to do with a lot of forethought and preparation, and talk about how you know, the twins might be ambivalent about doing this. Usually it is that one's really ready for the separation, and the other one may not be. And so you have to be able to weigh and measure where both twins are in order to help them, you know, make the transition in a healthy way. And I love what Mikayla Nicole said to about separate activities, just having some time away from one another is such a gift, where they have to be socializing on their own trying to make friends on their own, it's like seeing the world in a completely different way. When you're somewhere without your twin, I don't think parents understand the importance. And the depth of that is they know you, it's like you're taking a twin out of his or her twin bubble, and putting them you know, in some other environment where it's a completely different way of functioning. And so it's so important to have that experience from time to time, whenever a family can help to make that happen. It's wonderful if they have things together, but it's also wonderful if they can have something separately. Well,
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 22:11
that makes sense. And, you know, I think you made a really great point, too, when you're talking about really engaging the kids and having the discussion rather than parents just saying, Okay, well, you know, either you've got your own rooms, or okay, you're going to do separate activities, but really asking for their input. And of course, parents ultimately have to make decision. But I am hearing that that probably adds some degree of this idea of of autonomy and decision making again, like that, you know, maybe it's giving each of the siblings permission to make decisions and perhaps separately and differently than their their twin. So I think that's why I know, I'm guilty of just saying, Okay, well, you know, we parents, we've we've we're making this for practical reasons, and this is what it is without really asking what they think. So
Speaker 2 23:07
really interesting point, Christine, is that this idea of permission is so important, because in so many things as adult twins, as twins get older, you know, they feel like they have to give each other permission to do something different. And if they don't have that in their behavioral repertoire, that they've learned how to kind of give and take back and forth. And there's kind of an expectation and understanding that, that things are going to be different, then as they get older, and if if one isn't giving permission to the other to do you know, X, Y or Z, it creates an enormous amount of tension in their relationship. So permission is such a great word. Because if parents can help build in that sense of twins, you know, giving each other or themselves permission to do separate or different things. It's not going to create such a disruption when they get older.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 24:07
Yeah, no, I can I can definitely see that the permission so I think that's kind of that the mantra, it's okay to be different. I tell that with my girls, really, you don't you it's okay to to make that decision that that's something that's different.
So, no, I'm quite curious. So Mikayla and Nicole. So I'm curious about naming one of the things that twin parents often do during of course pregnancy is think about you know, what they want to name their twins and you know, so often we you know, hear about these these, okay? They think, Okay, I have to do something in pairs and it has to either rhyme or has to start with the same letter, or it's got the same have to have the same amount of syllables or there's I mean, we in fact, we did an episode on On twin twin naming, so there's this, I guess you could say preconception among twin parents that we have to somehow make it connected. And so I'm curious, I know in your case, your names are very different. I mean, the only thing I can see is that, you know, they're sequential in the alphabet, one starting with M and the other with n. But other than that, it's very unique and different. So are you glad that your names don't start with the same letter or rhyme? Or have you had any, you know, thoughts or discussions about that? Yeah,
Speaker 1 25:32
I'm super glad to have matching names. I know John can speak to this. Really well. But yeah, I'm super glad that they're not matching. Yeah, I think the only the only kind of requirement that our parents had when they were naming us, at least what they tell us is they wanted, like our Italian relatives, because we're half Italian. They wanted them to be able to say our names. But other than that, that was that was kind of it. So yeah, definitely glad that we don't have any matching or rhyming names.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 26:02
So no, two parents ixnay on the rhyming names.
Speaker 2 26:08
Preceding Can you explain to me, Why do parents think it's cute? Or Why do parents feel that that they go through this kind of decision making to get names like mine, like Jane and Joan, no one's name Jane and Joan anymore? But what why do? Why do parents? I'm just curious, because I come from such a different perspective. What is their their thought process about that?
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 26:33
Well, you know, you know, okay, now I'm gonna, you know, sweet put this out there. So I think, went during the twin pregnancy, and finding out we have twins, and there's, there's the specialness, you know, to it, you know, as you know, women being pregnant and twins, and you get, you know, you get all this this extra level of care from, you know, the medical professionals. And then of course, they're this wow, you're having twins. And so, so there's this sense of specialness and uniqueness. And so I think, initially, you know, without having this education of what it's like to be a twin, I think we want to assign that specialness to our kids. And and so maybe the, the initial perception is, oh, hey, let's let's make them stand out as a unit, and make them i Dennis viable, as as a set and being together. And so I think, you know, what I mean, in the media, I think we do see just so many pictures of babies that are dressed the same way. And they're so cute, and they have the names. And we think, oh, I want to jump on that that cuteness, I want to, you know, I want to get that and have my twins get that that's, that's, you know, fun, you know, aspect of it as well. So I think we buy into it, unfortunately, we without seeing you know, that the tail end of what that you know, can cause? Well,
Speaker 2 28:06
that's really interesting. Thank you for explaining that. And it makes a lot of sense in terms of what you're saying. I never thought about it is starting with the pregnancy and being treated as special. And and maybe what you know, grows out of that. So that was very enlightening. Thank you. Oh,
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 28:23
well, thank you. Well, we're gonna take a break. And when we come back, we're going to continue our discussion with Mikayla and Nicole.
Well, welcome back to Twin talks. Before the break, we were talking with twins Makayla and Nicole about what they liked and disliked about some of the choices that their parents made for them. And we also have our twin expert, Dr. Friedman, to give us a professional perspective. So let's take a look at some other choices that we as twin parents make in our parenting strategy. So how about comparisons with your sister? So, um, so Nicole Mikayla? I mean, I have to say, I think that every twin parent really tries not to compare their kids. But inevitably, it happens. And especially when it comes to physical appearance, you know, for your case, identicals and for my girls identicals. And then also when you're doing the same activities in school, so how was it for you growing up? Were what were some of the most common areas of comparison. And how did you deal with that, whether it's coming from your parents or from teachers or outside sources?
Speaker 1 29:34
Yeah, so I, for comparison, I would definitely say that maybe like the top three, at least for me. We're definitely I think it's probably because it's more so we're girls, it was definitely physical appearance. And then we because we were playing the same sport as well. We are really super competitive with like our sport performance. And also just like our grades in general, I would say the grades, maybe more so just between myself and Nicole Um, but yeah, physical appearance was definitely like a really big one. And honestly still is today, even though we don't dress the same or look the same, I still think when people first meet us, their automatic thing is to be like, oh, like they want to find like a physical feature that is different. But sometimes those like, off the cuff comments aren't necessarily received as the way they like, want us to receive it. So that can be tough. I can remember being younger and like doing the awkward people would stop us and be like, Okay, we stand side by side. And they just stare back and forth. Because a freckle cow and I just awkwardly just like smiling standing there and then be like, hey, just scanning us up and down. That would happen all the time. And it was so awkward. So I definitely remember that.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 30:50
Oh, my gosh, you're being scrutinized by strangers. Yeah.
Speaker 1 30:54
Just looking for every difference. Like, oh, your eyes are farther apart. You have a freckle here you have. It's like just picking us apart. It's like, well, thank you. Yeah. And like growing up, you don't want to be known any, like different from your twin just because of a freckle or because someone's eyes look different. Like I would rather someone knows me for me, because I'm different. Personality wise, not just because of a freckle.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 31:17
Wow, kids. So can you imagine I mean, you know, when I hear you guys talk, I mean, I can imagine like if single tins were just stopped on the street, or you know, in this grocery store. And someone just said, Oh, let me look at you. Let me look at your your freckles, let me look at the shape of your eyes. I mean, we would find that, like so bizarre, but somehow it's it's acceptable to do that to twins. I just find that so odd. No, how about also, um, you know, aside from physical comparisons, but in in school and performance, did you find that your parents were expecting you to have similar grades and, you know, an interest as well.
I don't think it was so much our parents but more something we put on ourselves. Like I always explain it as we're so kind of a meshed and codependent on each other that it wasn't like I wanted to do better than her academically or, like athletically, I just wanted us both to Excel. So if I was excelling, and she wasn't in whatever domain, it would, it would kind of like, I would feel her sadness, or I didn't feel like I would be able to celebrate my wins and things. If she didn't get the win. It was like we you can't go through life. Obviously, we're two separate people, we can't always have the exact same Varese exact same achievements. And that's kind of how we wanted to live our lives at that point. And when that wasn't happening, it was kind of taking away from the other person's like celebrations and achievements. And that was kind of also reflected in how our parents reacted. Like if if Macau were to get a good grade, she wasn't really celebrated, because I was mad and upset that I didn't get as good of a grade. And our parents also tried to just keep an even keel so that they wouldn't make one person feel worse than the other. But we they should have probably celebrated that win. And then it kind of would work its way out. So it's like if someone does have a win, you celebrate the win. And then obviously, you can comfort the person that doesn't have the win. I think it probably would have been better if they maybe took a more individual approach to kind of dealing with how each of us were either succeeding or failing.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 33:30
That's really interesting. Gosh, I'm sure there's a lot to unpack there about the idea of having collective success or collective failure and and how parents would want to separate that. But I mean, I think that's, that's something I yeah, I haven't really had much thought about. I don't Dr. Friedman. So I am curious, when when parents do get into this, you know, I don't say habit or just sometimes when we when we make that comparison, or if we expect our twins to achieve the same level of success. What can we do to fix that? And and what are some other strategies that we can use to evaluate without making our twins feel like that they're always viewed in relation to the other.
Speaker 2 34:26
Right, and I think that's such a good question. And I love the examples that Caitlin and Nicole talked about. I think that one of the hardest things, of course, is we all do make comparisons and especially it's the sad part is is that twins, be they compare themselves to one another and they're their harshest judgments. And if parents are not kind of aware of how much the twins are judging one another, then they're really losing an opportunity to come between We live in a way and to help celebrate their differences rather than as, you know, feeling guilty about one and upset about the other and feeling like they don't, they're not able to deal with the ambivalence. ambivalence is okay, she did great, she's suffering. How do I how do I engage with both? You know, the parents are so uncomfortable so much of the time, which is unfortunate, because if they were able to do this kind of from the get go, and not feel kind of constrained to feel like everything has to be the same. And the twins have to feel the same. And they feel so bad for the one who didn't get what you know she wanted and how can they be happy for the one that did. And I mean, this is an ongoing issue that twins have to deal with from the time that they're young. So if parents can become comfortable with these dichotomies, even identical twins, even though I know they're so equal in so many ways, still, there are a lot of differences. And it really is about celebrating differences, as opposed to being afraid of them. And I think so many people, parents, coaches, teachers are afraid of the differences. So they don't look for the differences. And that's why this whole thing about treating them as a unit keeps going on, because people are uncomfortable. So I've always talked to parents about you know, what, you, you know, we don't love, I always say this in my, in my speech, I have five children, I love them all. But I don't love them all the same, they're all different. My compatibility, my maternal fit with one or more is not the same. And if I were to make it all vanilla, all the same, what what a complete waste and loss that I haven't been able to get to know each one of them for who they are? I don't, they're different kids. And I feel differently toward each one of them. And that's the beauty of parenting, I think, whether you're parenting one or two or three, the beauty of it is getting to know who each one is. And that means being comfortable with differences, celebrating differences, talking about differences, not like like a some hot potato to be avoided. But that it's a, it's a very real issue in the lives of most twins. And the sooner you can feel comfortable thinking about it and handling it and dealing with it with yourself, as well as with your children, it creates a much easier atmosphere. So it's I just feel like it's something that's avoided, because parents are usually so uncomfortable addressing it. And, you know, again, I understand that because it has to be addressed in a tactful way. And in an understanding way. And lots of times parents aren't quite sure about how to do that.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 37:51
You know, that's, that's really interesting point. I think you're right, I know I have myself, I've had times where I felt uncomfortable in the sense of, you know, maybe one of my girls has asked to do something. And then the first thing in my mind is, well, if I say yes to her, then I would have to say yes to her sister as well. And there's, there's this sort of expectation that I have to in the sense of fairness, you know, in many occasions that, oh, I have to treat them the same, I have to either permit them to do the same things, or I have to suggest the same things. Because I don't want to alienate the other. And I can say my husband, I have this discussion all the time, just that, you know, it's like is fairness, is that what we're going for to make it the same? So it's, I agree, it's just it's a constant debate. Very ongoing challenge. And
Speaker 2 38:46
it's hard. And it's hard to say, to see when one say yes, go ahead. And the other one, you know, it's it's, but it's life. You know, it's like I always talk about, you know, life isn't fair, and twins aren't equal. Because when you when you raise them with this belief that life is always going to treat them fairly. And when they become adults, or maybe even adolescents, they start recognizing that that's not happening. You know, why is she had more friends? Why does she have a boyfriend? Why does she have a better paying job? How come she has a boyfriend? And I don't? I mean, as life gets more complicated, all these external factors come in, that you can no longer control. And if they've been raised to believe that their lives are going to be fair and equal, always, then how do you think they're able to negotiate and work through these inequities that will inevitably pop up in their lives? So it's really good to start kind of thinking about this from the time that they're younger so that they get accustomed to this idea that they're not the same and things aren't always going to be equal for both. It's a really, it's a really awful lesson, when adult twins that I work with, finally see this, it's like someone's like hit them over the head. And they really, really are knocked to the ground until they can kind of make sense out of it and reemerge a healthier person, very sad.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 40:21
So I can, this has probably been the biggest issue, I would challenges I think parents need to work on for sure.
Now, we're just just to switch gears, I want to say okay, this is inevitably it always comes up. But the the challenge for recognition of each and just a physical level of identifying who's who. So I know, this is probably more the case for identical twins. But, you know, I know in in, in my case, sometimes like my, you know, parents, so they the grandparents or the extended family, get my girls mixed up, and I'm always cringing on the inside. But how, like, when you've been sort of mixed up, and someone's called you by the wrong name. Like, you know, what's, what's your reaction? And what would you, you know, tell the parents I mean, should we just apologize? Or what should we say that in response when we either a we realize we have or we haven't, and you need to correct us? Yeah,
I think there was like thinking back some internalized frustration. I think just like an apology is good. And just knowing that you're actually trying and not like, sometimes I feel like our parents would just, it felt like they weren't trying to get the name right. Sometimes, like they're busy or whatever. I don't know if that's kind of making sense. But yeah, just an apology and try to get to know them. Beyond the physical aspects. Like I remember, we've been working with Joe now going on almost four years. And in the beginning, we did a group call with our parents, and it was like, so can you tell us a bit about the girls and like, how they were different when they were younger? And it was like silence, it was like, they couldn't really come up with anything. It was like, Well, I don't really know. They're really similar. And then we got off the call. And it was like, Mom, Dad, like, what, how would you say we're different. And it was like just listing physical attributes. It's like, wow, I'm no different than the person sat next to me beyond a freckle beyond height, beyond whatever it is. So really building, like a personal connection with each person and spending time individually, with my with with your kids, I think is really important. Because me and Mikayla, like unfortunately, I'm closer to Macau than I am kind of the either parent, and I feel like she would say the same thing. So I think building a relationship with your with each individual son and daughter, whoever it is, is really important.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 43:02
Another that's great. And so and as is also something that maybe the parents can do. So when we are trying to let's just say, educate extended family members, and you know how to recognize each person individually. I mean, I know I've tried to use examples of, you know, voice in donations, or sometimes I've said, you know, like one of my girls, you know, she plays lacrosse or, you know, try to give them some visual cues as well. But are there other things that you think parents should be doing to help literacy educate other people about especially for younger twins?
Yeah, kind of just like what you said, is, is a really good idea of kind of, I mean, it is kind of hard, especially when you're younger, and you might look really similar. But yeah, like kind of staying away from maybe differentiators that are more so physical appearance based and more so geared towards what that individual likes to do or Chanel. Yeah, personality wise, I would say is better because then extended family friends, people actually get to know them for what they are as like a person versus just okay, like, that's their physical appearance is different. So yeah, something something outside of like the physical appearance realm would be good to kind of educate either extended family or friends on to kind of differentiate the twins.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 44:34
Oh, that's great. That's really helpful. Okay, and I'm gonna say so for our last question, since we are running out of time here, I'm going to open this up. So what is maybe one thing that you think parents are doing all wrong? I mean, if there's something you say, Okay, let's let's put this in check. What would you tell that the twin parents that we should rethink and re strategize I would
Speaker 1 45:01
probably just say focus on individuality, like building different things like having different activities that they do. Hanging out with different friends. Going out, like, if you're like mom or dad with their daughter, son go out and do things separately, together, build a relationship with each of them separately, so they feel connected to you, versus being so codependent and enmeshed with each other, build a relationship with each twin is what I would say. Yeah, and kinda to piggyback off of that, yeah, just like, it kind of whatever, whatever you're kind of into, I would say, put them into separate activities, like I always say, like, I think it would have been so beneficial, beneficial for our parents to kind of put us in like we love we both love sports, I would have loved to go to like a sport camp or something, I think it would probably be scary, because we are we're both really codependent when we were younger. But I think that would have been such a good starting point of being young and kind of taking that step towards being an individual outside of like that twin bubble that John was kind of talking about, you learn to kind of socialize on your own, you learn how to make friends. And then that also kind of bleeds into schooling and that sort of thing, too, as well. So yeah, I think just different extracurriculars is a really good idea as well.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 46:24
Oh, that's really, those are some really great practical ideas. And Dr. Freeman, if you had any other things you wanted to add that we should, you know,
Speaker 2 46:31
I think they said everything much more beautifully than I could have ever done. I'm just sitting here I'm smiling ear to ear just listening to how articulate and intelligent they are in terms of being able to have hindsight and insight and a perception into their own experience and how how much they've grown, you know, in their own ways to try to become more separate and more individuated. I one thing I wanted to add, and I don't know, maybe when you're an adolescent unit want to do this, but you the whole idea of like wearing a, getting different haircuts or wearing a bracelet or a necklace with your name on it. You know, I know that that would really for younger, younger twins, I'm thinking that that would really help outsiders sort of be able to feel more more confident approaching the twins because outsiders and I get like this myself, I'm not somebody that can easily tell anyone who's who until I have a sense of their personality, which you really don't have until you've been able to spend some, some, you know, protracted time with them. So any kind of help in terms of some physical differentiation, where someone can immediately look at the name bracelet or the hair cut. And I even know, I know, you don't want to be totally individuated by physical differences, but at least at least then you have a jumpstart because you know who you're talking to, you know, from the get go. And I think that's just kind of an easier way to ease into getting to know, each twins, especially when they're identical. I had this, this Mom, tell me the story of this eight year old, identical twin girl and she turned to her mom, and she said, you know, Mom, it is so sad that my friends can't take the time who don't care enough about me to know who I am, or to know what my name is. So, you know, even an eight year old, you know, has this kind of internalized sense of longing, that at least somebody you know, will know who she is beyond her name. So it's it's, you know, it seems silly about a bracelet and a haircut but but that is sort of a window into other people having an easier time getting to differentiate the girls or the boys, whoever it is.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 49:00
Those are some just really great ideas. So you're right haircuts, and friend, little bracelets are like initial necklaces. You know, I wish I wish I had done that with my girls. Because they're, they're so easy to do, but making such a great impact. Well, we've run out of time, and I wish we could discuss more in this session. I would thank you so much for to all of our guests and Nicole Mikayla Dr. Friedman. This has just been so insightful conversation and be sure to check out new mommy media.com where we'll have all of our episode guides, plus videos and more.
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