Embracing Differences and Raising Twins

Written by: Jodie Lancet-Grant

I found out I was carrying twins just 6 weeks into my pregnancy, but I suspected it even earlier. I was due to be a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding, but almost as soon as I’d seen those tell-tale blue lines on the test just two weeks in, I could no longer fit into the dress we’d bought. We went shopping for a replacement the next weekend (the wedding was in two weeks!). ‘Surely that has to be twins. . .’ she said in the changing rooms, gazing at my already very rounded belly in awe.

From the moment my girls were born, they had entirely different personalities. This shocked me. Before I met them, I’d thought that babies were just, well… babies. And right from the start it was clear to see how nature and nurture interacted when it comes to twins. One was ever so slightly more naturally patient than her sister: she was marginally more willing to wait without wailing for a feed. So, for my sanity, I ended up tending to the less patient little one first. She became used to that, and the other one more used to waiting. Now that they’re nine, one twin is far more patient than the other. How much of that is her innate personality, and how much is it how she was treated when she was tiny?

The girls love being twins. They can see that it’s special and different, and, whilst they do argue, unless she’s the one who has caused it, neither twin can bear to see her sister upset. They’ll each be the first to run and fetch a cuddly toy or do a silly dance to cheer the other up.

But being a twin does come with challenges, the biggest being comparison. We do our absolute utmost not to compare them, but lots of it comes from them. They’re trying the same things at the same time, so it’s easy for them to see who takes to those activities more easily.

We’ve tried a few things to counter the tougher side of being twins. The first was putting them in different classes at school. We wanted them to find their own friends and have some time apart, and it’s worked. They have their own identities and friendship circles, and a lovely, unexpected bonus is that they both also know their sister’s friends quite well. Up until now, they’ve chosen to do the same extra-curricular activities, but they’ve recently expressed desire to try new things, and we’re encouraging them to go in different directions. We want to make sure that each has something – maybe a few things – which are just hers, and nothing to do with her sister.

We try not to refer to them as ‘the twins’ – as if they’re one single entity, and, as parents, we do our best to make sure we each spend time with them separately.

For years we threw them a joint birthday party, but last year they had one each (it was a full on weekend for us, that’s for sure.) I wanted to make sure they each had space for their own celebrations, and to have some time being the solo centre of attention.

I’m sure we’re not always getting it right, and I have no doubt there will be more bumps in the road to come. Overall, doing our best to underline how they are each their own person, completely separate from their twin sister, and valuable and special in their own right is the top priority.


Photography © Ellie Kurttz

The Legend of the Wild West Twins by Jodie Lancet-Grant (picture book, Oxford University Press) is out now.

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