Can Twins Be Too Close?

Updated on January 18, 2013
B.C. asks from Minneapolis, MN
16 answers

My identical twin daughters are 6 years old. They attended preschool and kindergarten together and now we have split them up for first grade. They have always been extremely tight with one another and with their big sister. There is a ton of fighting between the three girls but they can barely stand to be without one another. My husband and I have to institute "alone time" to physically keep them all apart and to help them learn how to entertain themselves and just be alone.

Lately, the twins have been crying about school and how they never get to see each other and that they want to be together for second grade. They don't seem to be making good friends in their classes and I am not sure if it's because of the makeup of kids in their classes or if they don't know how to branch out or that no one can compare to their twin. We want them each to forge their own way so we feel that keeping them apart is the best choice but I feel like we are breaking their spirits. We have had a couple of kids over for playdates from their classes but no one has reciprocated. I suppose I need to keep encouraging separate playdates and just keep at it both having a child over and seeing if I can make arrangements for one to go on a playdate without the other. Their teachers indicate that they are both doing really well with the adjustment.

I am seeking advice from those who are adult twins on how it feels to be a twin and how to respect that unbelievable bond while also helping to nurture the individual. What do you wish your parents had done differently or what did they do right? Or, if you have identical twin girls, what has your experience been? Any psychologists out there who have twin knowledge could chime in too!

Thank you! And please just help me focus on what to do from here (not what we could have or should have done in the past).

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So What Happened?

Thank you for the thoughtful and candid responses. We have a lot to think about over the next two months as the school will begin to put next year's classes together in March. Obviously, as most parents make the best decisions they can with the information they have, we had felt that separating them was the best thing to do based on our gut feelings, teacher recommendation, pediatrician recommendation, and other moms of multiples feelings on the subject. Maybe it's a failed experiment for our particular girls. Perhaps it's not in their best interest and that is why I wanted to hear from those of you who have lived it to gain a perspective that I don't have as a singleton. I would say that having a close in age older sister who so desperately wants to be their triplet contributes to the complexity of our family dynamics as well.

I stand by our alone time activity which is usually for only a half on hour on the weekends as we feel that it's important for children to know how to entertain themselves and enjoy their own company. I see that as a life skill.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I greatly appreciate it!

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answers from Indianapolis on

I have no experience with identical twins. But my daughters are "Irish twins" (12 months apart). They are still young, but so far they share everything. They get along great.

IMHO, trying to separate them to "foster individuality" is just as bad as treating them like 1 person instead of 2.

I wish I had a sister to be best friends with.

I would let them be in the same class if they wanted it.

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answers from Las Vegas on

My identical twin sisters had separate classes most of the time. I think in high school they ended up with a few classes together. I think the school made an attempt to separate them. I remember a couple of twin boys from school while i was growing up and they had separate classes too.

My sisters are very close and fight a lot. I think that is how it goes.

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answers from Kansas City on

My husband is an identical twin and he absolutely hates when people decide to split up the twins to foster their individuality. It insults him on a primal level. Your children are different people, but they have a twin and are naturally close. Forcing them apart is not necessary. They are different people, they are individuals, they're just happiest together. They will naturally split apart when they get to the age where they start switching classes and pick things they want to take that the other may not. If you want to keep them apart in school, which I don't agree with, fine. But stop forcing them to be apart when they're at home as well!

My husband and his twin went to the same college, majored in the same major, and even work for the same company now, although doing different things (one is in IT and the other is a software programmer). The only thing my husband regrets is not continuing to play sports because his brother didn't like them. They both even tend to pick the same sorts of people to be with (although of different genders, as his brother is gay.).

They both agree that splitting up twins is just going to cause problems. Forcing yours to be friends with people they don't want to be friends with is obviously not helping them. You said it yourself, you're breaking their spirits. Instead of allowing them to be comfortable and grow, you're forcing them to be in uncomfortable situations.

I lived in a small town where we did k-8 in the same building, and my class had an abnormally large amount of multiples. 1 set of boy/girl twins, one set of girl triplets, and 2 sets of girl twins in grade school, then in high school 2 more sets of boy twins and 2 more sets of girl twins. No effort was made to seperate any of them and all of the one's I've kept in contact with (the triplets and the boy/girl twins in particular) have had any ill effects from it and have grown up to be close but also have different interests. My husband's cousin decided to separate her twins and has had nothing but trouble since, when they were fine before they decided to separate them in first grade.

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answers from Columbus on

There's so much to struggle with in elementary school. Why add to it? It's hard to make friends when you're sad and missing your best friend all the time, and elementary girl drama hits early and hard. I wish everyone had a natural companion by her side in school!

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answers from San Francisco on

I am an identical twin. Our school did try to separate us in the third grade and we were miserable! Seeing how sad we were our parents talked to the school and put us together. It just made more sense since we were happiest together. Now we live in different countries, have different interests, different friends but still are very close.

Since the kids are missing each other so much you could possibly keep them together until they are a little more older?

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answers from New York on

Speak to the school psychologist. He/she may have some good advice and study information for you.

I know a set of identical twin men. They are in their 50s and have never lived a part. Never got married and are ALWAYS together. It's weird. They are odd and cheap as all hell. I'd say that you guys are doing what you think is right and I agree with it. You want your girls to grow up to make their own choices (college, men) so it's important that they can cope alone.

Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

Our school didn't really look at twins as separate or not separate from first grade one. They were grouped with some kind of academic formula and some times they landed together and sometimes they didn't. A friend of mine has triplets and sometimes 2 of the 3 are in classes together and sometimes none of them are (this school starts switching classes for math in grade 1 and reading, math and science in grade 3, so the chances of overlapping and being in the same class is greater). My cousins are twins and they each had their own set of friends and interests.

As for the play dates, my kids are not twins, but we don't get a whole lot of play date invites, mainly because everyone is really busy with activities. So that may have nothing to do with them being twins.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have 6 yo twins athat were in pre school together for 2 years and I have seperated them for K. The issue we ran into was one day hearing one say to the other " remember, I'm C's friend at school and your friend at home".
My heart was broken when I heard this and in addition to addressing it with my children, I also spoke to their teacher about it. Her response was "I wouldn't be so sure that B ( my daughter ) thought of that herself. Turns out there was a little girl in their class that wanted one of my daughters to be her best friend , etc. etc.

When we told this teacher that we were seperating them in K she thought it was a great idea and that she felt one of our daughters would really flourish. We're 1/2 through the school year and doing ok with it. They have always played well together and now seem even more excited to play with each other now that they're apart during the day. We also go away for the summer and the two of them are pretty much one on one all summer long . So they do get a lot of twin time.

I like the idea of seperating - but I have fraternal twins who are very different so perhaps that is why it works well for us.



answers from Madison on

This is a very interesting question. I, too, often wonder if twins can be too close.

We have twin women in our church who are somewhere in their 40s. Both are single, they live together, they go to the same church and are very involved in church activities. They each have a job, but I am not sure if they work at different places or the same one. Neither has ever married, and neither of them has children. They do have other siblings. They are identical twins (not that that makes any difference, but I have often noticed that identical twins tend to want to be together more than fraternal twins). My daughter has remarked how odd it is that they spend so much time together--and that they even live together in the same house.

So I can definitely see your point and your concern.

Twins do tend to have a very unique bond between them that those of us who are singletons will never understand. If they enjoy each other now, I'd let them stay in the same classroom together. I would still keep encouraging that they also spend alone time/learn and do hobbies or sports that are just for them/not together. Ultimately, it is their life. Either they will be so joined at the hip that nothing you do with alter or sever that, or as they get older, they'll begin to express themselves as individuals and will want to lead an individual life.

All you can do is encourage them in all things and strive to help them become their own individuals.



answers from Youngstown on

I have twin cousins and when they started K the school forced them to be in separate classes. It was awful. They missed being together and actually fought. It was as if being a twin was a bad thing so they were punished by being forced apart. I would suggest you put your girls back in the same class for 2nd or now if you can. They will naturally grow up and develop their own interests just like everyone else.



answers from Columbus on

I have twin sisters and they are best friends to this day. Sure they had other friends along the way, but my mother never tried to forcefully separate them. This is the way I see it. How many kids stay incredibly close to the best friend they had in first grade? Maybe a few, but the majority of people move on eventually and have different friends in different periods of their lives. Now siblings? These are relationships you hope will last forever. How cool is it to have a best friend that lives with you and that you know will always love you and that you'll be able to keep in close touch with your whole life? Let them have that friendship and get them into the same class again. They will still have other friends, but really wouldn't you WANT them to remain best friends their whole lives? I would.



answers from Cleveland on

Very interesting as my daughter has twin friends who were in the same class through 2nd grade and I thought it was odd. But maybe we as nontwins just don't understand and you should let them be together again. Likely with age and maturity, they'll separate some. For now, based on feedback here, I'd let them be together at home since they're not at school. The twins I know weren't ready to be separated until 3rd. So hopefully it'll happen naturally for yours too though maybe it'll be 4th. I will say they're the only twins in school who were kept together like that (all the twins are fraternal) so I understand what you did. I'll also mention that I was friendly with identical twin brothers in college. They played the same sport, went to the same college, were in the same fraternity etc. From what I hear, they're both married now and doing fine so while we all thought it was a bit much for them to have gone to the same college, they did well...



answers from Denver on

I have twin sisters, now all grown up with kids of their own! They were inseparable as kids, and almost always in the same class. This worked for them. Things tend to ebb and flow with twins, they will work most of this out on their own- they will try separate friendships (often because a friend may like one twin but not the other) and either be ok with it or find it just doesn't feel right. Most often, they had the same group of friends. They usually had girls in the group that one liked better than the other and girls in the group usually preferred one twin over the other. Totally normal.

If they have expressed a desire to be together, I would let them. They will feel safer to explore other friendships when they are most comfortable- which is when they are together. Think of kiddos when they are toddlers. They start to want a little independence to explore, so they start to wander away at the playground, but look back often to make sure you are there. Same thing with your girls. This is what is was like for my sisters. They were happiest together, but did seek out other friendships.

When they were in high school, they wanted their own rooms, so my parents moved them from sharing a room to each having their own. We constantly still found them sleeping in the same room by morning. Funny.

Now as a parent, my daughter is friends with twins. I stressed about if one twin would feel preferred over the other and how my daughter would make sure she didn't hurt their feelings. We do always invite the twins together for things, but mostly- I stopped stressing. They all seem quite happy, so I let them all work out the friendship bugs and they do! This is middle school, so a bit older. But just to emphasize that these things work out usually without help from us, and also to let you know how others might not be totally sure how to have their kid approach a friendship with one or both of your girls.

btw- my sisters still talk pretty much daily, but they live states apart and have well-adjusted independent lives.



answers from Pittsburgh on

My daughter has a best friend that is an identical twin. The twins are 10yrs old and their parents have kept them together in the same class since preschool (now in 4th grade). They are very close but have some different interests and some different friends. My daughter is friends with both girls but is better friends with just one of them. I really can't offer any advice on your topic, but if you feel that you are causing them stress by separating them, then stop. There will come a time in their lives when they choose to go in different directions, support them in their choice. I was also very good friends with a set of identical twin girls growing up. I was also better friends with just one of the girls. The twins I knew stayed in the same classes and shared the same room all the way through school. Eventually they went in separate directions as young adults.



answers from Rochester on

I am an identical twin. My sister and I were in separate classes though all of elementary school. It was really good for us. We were and still are super close. We shared many of the same friends, and sometimes got to be together when the classes switched for reading or math groups. We played together outside. We were very competitive! and being in different classes was very important to reduce that pressure. I really liked the arrangement. Now, the opposite was true in high school. We had six out of seven classes together freshman year (they weren't too creative with schedules, I guess). I sat in front of, to the side of, or behind my sister in every class. People treated us as a unit. Here come "the twins." "The twins are always at the top of the class" "what are you (pl.) going to do for the English project?" "are you (pl.) going to come over tonight?" I felt like I had no individual identity. It was so claustrophobic. My sister and I deliberately went to separate colleges so that we could each be treated like an individual, not half of a whole. It was a terrific choice for us--we actually grew closer when everything we did wasn't compared and we had room to be our own people. It was a blast, too, when we first visited each other's college and shocked our friends who didn't know we were twins. ; )


answers from New York on

My twins were together in K. Our school system has 'sister' classes meaning that each class is separate but 2 classes get together a couple times a week to do things like watching an education movie or listening to a story together or doing an activity. So in 1st grade my twins were in separate classes but would see each other when doing their sister class stuff. We did this for a couple years and it worked well.

Funny story: My daughter's best friend was an identical twin. She was friends with the other twin but not best friends. The other twin had a different best friend. When we'd invite Jos over we'd always include her sister but usually her sister declined.

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