How to Not Offend Parents of Multiples.

Updated on March 25, 2011
M.B. asks from Detroit, MI
28 answers

I dont know if im over thinking this, but I have heard a lot of parents of multiples complain about peoples "stupid and annoying" comments about their children.
I met a mom of triplets over the weekend, and we talked ALOT, and I will probably be seeing her more, shes a friend of a friend. But anyways, in the back of my mind Im trying to be extremely cautious not to ask any stupid or offensive questions. IM SORRY, but Im pretty fascinated about pregnancy, birth, babies, kids, etc... I think the fact that you could have 3 little miracles at once is pretty stinkin cool! So of course I want to know about it. With me being pregnant we were talking a lot about stuff. So anyways, she mentioned some "stupid questions" people always ask her, one being "Are they identical?". I was JUST about to ask her that!!!! Thank GOD I didnt! I mean, they all looked very similar, 2 boys, one girl. I still dont know if they are identical or not!
Dont get me wrong, this woman was very nice. Could anyone school me on whats ok and not ok to say? Are these questions annoying because they ALWAYS get them? I mean, personally I could stand there and talk about my kids all day if someone wanted me to.
So, tell me, whats the deal with parents of multiples???? I mean this with all respect of course!

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answers from Atlanta on

Hi I don't have twins but what I think you should do is....Maybe when talking to her about her children talk to her as if she didn't have twins. Try talking to her mother to mother. There are a lot of mothers who talk to each other about there children. Talk about each child as and individual. I don't know if it would help but its just a thought.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I have twins and questions never bothered me! I also love to talk about pregnancy, birth and my children :) The only time I ever got annoyed was when they were dressed alike, and doing something obvious and people asked if they were twins. Even then, it's just part of the territory!! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Well, one reason she might get annoyed by the question "are they identical?" is there is a chance that triplets could be identical, but not when one is a girl and two are boys!!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Albuquerque on

Ok... I have identical twin girls so I think I can answer this one.

Here's the list of questions that twin/triplet moms never want to be asked (according to the twin club I belong to):

1. Are they identical? Don't ask this if it's a girl and a boy. Girls and boys can not be identical. Identical means exactly the same. Since girls have different "parts" than boys, they are not exactly the same. It's not an offensive question, just a dumb one (no offense).

2. Did you do fertility treatments? This is a really big hot button for a lot of moms. They consider it way too private.

3. Which one's the evil twin?

4. Do you love one more?

5. And above all... do not tell a parent of multiples that you almost have twins since your kids are so close together in age. It's not the same thing.

Personally, I find it annoying when people act like the only interesting thing about me is the fact that I have twins. Like when we have nothing in common but they always run right over to talk to me, but can barely hold a real conversation because they're so busy peppering me with questions. Don't get me wrong, if I'm friends with someone I'm happy to answer any question, no matter how silly it might be, and I love to talk about my kids like any other parent. But the random park acquaintances that wander over just to ask basic questions (that they could research on the internet themselves) gets annoying.

Please don't let a worry about appropriate questions stop you from getting to be friends with this woman and asking her whatever you want to know. Just try to remember that she's had the same conversation with probably 100 people before you so it might not be as interesting to her. And it's also worth being sensitive to the fact that she's trying to keep track of three kids while she talks to you.

PS. I just read the response before mine, and can tell you that yes, it's totally possible to conceive triplets naturally. I have a very good friend who did just that. She's currently 25 weeks pregnant with three girls.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

This post made me laugh. I am the mother to fraternal twin girls who aqre 8 now and I think the major thing that tended to irk me the most and still does because I still get the comments of "Oh I always wanted twins" or "Oh it must be so much fun having twins-I wish I had twins."
Okay YES it is unique and different and YES it is fun. However its not an easy job either but I don't feel any more special than any other mom out there because being a mom is a tough job no matter if you have one or more. I love the fact that my twins are very close, I love the fact that they are twins but are so much different from one another. I love the fact that when I am gone they always have each other. I think in general most moms do like sharing "birth" stories and sometimes even conception stories but I think you are worrying too much about this. If you truly connected with her and will see her again I would just keep it simple and carry on conversations. If you are worried about offending her with any of your questions let her know up front that you don't have any experience with multiples and that you are curious. I think most people when you know they are asking the questions out of curosity it tends to be a little more interesting to us mommas to answer those questions. There are a lot of people that don't even know what the difference is between fraternal or identical twins. I have people who are floored when I tell them my girls are fraternal everyone thinks they are identical. Then the next question always tends to be "Well how do you tell them apart though" I have just leaqrned to keep that response to a minimum...."I'm their momma so I just know" rather than explaining well this one has a mole on her cheek and this one's face is a little more round and the shape of their eyes are different. I can even tell a difference in their voices. If I call and speak to them over the phone I can pick up after a few minutes who I am talking to without them telling me who it is. I don't really know how I do it-but I do and I guess I just know because I am their momma. I guess its no different when you see your child coming home from school or something and you take one look at their face and you know something happened or something is wrong. My mother to this very day at 35 years old will ask me" What's wrong" and I will tell her nothing and she will say....don't you lie to me....what is wrong. I know something is wrong so tell your mother what it is-lol! She is typically correct-and I will spill my guts. How does she know this? Cause I'm her daughter and she knows me the best.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think that it's _always_ in _how_ a question is asked. I think that if you said to her that you were just really fascinated and love pregnancy but don't want to overstep your bounds, that really sets the stage a lot. And always give her an out. Maybe she normally likes answering questions about her kids, but might just not be in the mood.

However, I think any questions that in any way require the answerer to share information about their sex life or medical history are off the table. (So no questions about "how" she ended up with triplets - with or without medical help.)

I think that anyone could tell that you mean well, and so, to my mind, it would be rude to not talk to you politely. It doesn't mean that she would have to answer all of your questions, but kind intent on your part is just really important.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Yeah don't know how to break this to you but even parents of single different gender children find the are they identical question really stupid. My two oldest are two years apart, a boy and a girl, and people would ask me if they were identical. I would generally look at them as if they had brain damage since a male or female fertilized egg cannot split into the opposite gender.

Thank you for the laugh....

Oh and Tori, you would be wrong, one of my friends is one of three who are identical and she told me she met one of four once. It is rare but the egg can split as many times as it desires. Not that I have studied this but I would imagine as it splits the viability of the pregnancy decreases which is why you usually hear of only identical twins.

Damn I am in a know it all mood, sorry bout that. :p

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I don't have multiples but have a couple of friends who do and this is what I do know bugs them. The question you raised about identical is at the top of their lists...If there is a b/g twin, they can't be idenItical. Identical is identical/split egg, same sex etc. etc. Besides that, they don't generally like the question because they want to be sure that you view their children as the individual children that they are. Other questions they've shared that annoy them include all questions in any form which basically asks them to compare their children, like "which one is smarter?," "which one is better behaved?," "which one is the fussy one?" Of course they don't want to praise just one/or slight the other. Overall, they key offense I've see made to these mamas, which I totally understand, is when people treat their children as a "unit" vs the individuals that they are. They are three separate, unique babies. They will have their own personalities, strengths, quirks just as other sibs. The fact that she is already sharing the things that bug her about other people probably means she already feels comfortable with you though :-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

well first off identicals means just that they are identical. so no way could 2 boys and a girl be identical. 3 boys or 3 girls would be identical but the fact that one is a different sex means no identical.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Anyone with a different or unusual physical characteristic, family description, job or (fill in the blank) is going to attract curiosity. It's just human. They are likely to be bored with or annoyed by the repetitive questions. That's also just human.

I'd set it out in black and white: "I'm understandably curious about your experience as a mom of triplets. AND, I don't want to annoy you with questions. Can you tell me what areas are okay to ask about, and what you just don't want to talk about? I'll do my best to comply!"

Or you could ask if you can just get the questions out of the way. Once people's curiosity is satisfied, it's so much easier to get on with the rest of life.

My husband had Bell's Palsy almost 20 years ago, and half of his face was paralyzed for close to 6 months. He had to wear a patch to protect the eye that wouldn't close. Of course this made him stand out in a crowd, and children, especially, couldn't resist asking him questions. He was gracious enough to answer the same questions over and over probably upward of a hundred times. A favorite from kids: "Are you a pirate?"

A different man might have snapped people's heads off, or walked off in a grump. But people want to know, and how else are many of us going to learn?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Next time you talk to her tell her what you told us. I don't see any harm in telling her that you are curious but don't want to offend her and don't want to ask stupid questions. I think she'd appreciate the honesty.

And I know you can't go back to that situation, but if I were you I would have asked why that's a stupid question because the boys could be identical while the girl is obviously not. Now, if one boy has red hair and the other is blonde, or they have some other obvious difference then I'd agree that asking if they are identical when they clearly are not would be a stupid question and get annoying.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I can't speak to this woman at all. I have 8 year old twins and am happy to answer the questions etc. I don't know why "are they identical" would be offensive. I know boy/girl twins aren't, but if there are two girls/two boys that seems normal. I get it asked it all the time. I also get asked about everything from how the pregnancy was to giving birth. I guess she just doesn't see what the big deal is, but to those who don't have mulitples it is interesting, I understand that. I do agree with another poster that said just talk to her as they aren't triplets. Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

I have twin boys... identical.... VERY identical... and the only thing that gets me is when we are out in puclic, they are standing next to each other, wearing the same clothes, they look just the same, same hair cut... same everything, and someone ask "are they twins?" I guess its not so much the attention that is brought to us but the sillyness that the situations brings out of people.. most days i will just say yes they are, smile and move on. But there are other days (i guess not so great days on my part) where i just want to say nope... they arent twins. .not even related! lol i know thats ugly on my part.... The identical question doesnt bother me, but then again if i had a girl and a boy and there was no way that they could be identical, it may. And yes, there are ALWAYS questions.. at times it feels like we are a walking freak show when we go anywhere. I know though, that its because people are looking at my adorable children and think they are pretty awesome!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

My Mom had twins a girl and a boy, my sister was still born. I remember several people asking her, now which one is the twin? My sister died in 1952 and I think my Mom still feels the hurt. Some people just ask dumb questions.
I would think if you preface your questions by saying I really curious and don't mean to be offensive, if I say anything offensive tell me please. Then ask...hopefully the Mom will understand.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hey! I had a neighbor who is a triplet AND HE WAS AN IDENTICAL TWIN! So it doesn't have to be a stupid question. He and his brother were identical twins and there was obviously another egg in there! So there you go, triplets and identical.... :-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I have a friend of multiples.

Mostly, for her, she just gets SO tired, of being asked the SAME darn questions by people. over and over and over and over again.
She said, laughing, she might as well pin a paper to her kids with the answers to their "stupid" questions. So that she doesn't have to repeat herself over and over and over and over and over again. Each time, to almost everyone she comes across.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

Your friend is rude! She should be lucky that people care enough to ask questions.

EDIT* I have been thinking about this for some time now, and had to come back to comment. People with multiples who get asked the same questions should be THANKFUL! My kids both have Type 1 diabetes and I get questions like, "So when will they go blind?" or "When will they start getting their legs amputated?" and a host of other horrible things, RIGHT in front of my kids!
Most people ask questions because they care (I get many WONDERFUL questions too!), so she should give people a break. At least HER kids aren't wondering if they will wake up blind because of the questions she gets asked!

Sorry! Rant over! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

That's funny about the identical question. Okay, If they ARE identical they have to be the same sex and identicals come in equal numbers because identicals occur from one egg that splits as the cells multiply, but that's not to say one of the fetuses didn't make it along the way :-(. Fraternal twins (multiples) come from more than one egg. So in this case, in theory the boys could be identical but it might be unlikely.....It can get confusing and I don't think it's a stupid question. I only know a little tiny bit because twins run in our family, seems to have stopped in recent generations though.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

One of my best friends has 4 year old twin boys (not identical and conceived using IVF) and she's told me what really irks her is when people tell her how much fun it must be to have twins and how they would love to have twins too. She's like, "Don't get me wrong - I am so happy we have them, we knew there was a good chance we would end up with multiples, and I wouldn't change anything for the world. But FUN? HA! You don't get any sleep at all when they are babies because one is always awake when the other one is sleeping, and then when they are toddlers they are into everything and it's so hard to keep an eye on both of them. We have to spend double the money on everything - baby gear, car seats, preschool tuition, sports, etc. We go to the store and they are taking off in opposite directions." (of course, I realize that some of this would be true even if they were not twins, but it's tough when they are the exact same age and doing exactly the same annoying things at the same time).

Anyway, that's just my friend's take on it - don't say how much you would love to have twins or triplets and how much fun it must be. You have no idea.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I think your friend is a little overly sensitive.. I could understand if she was getting annoyed if people were asking if she was on drugs or stuff like that... but honest, innocent questions, not so much. Just tiptoe around the subject when talking to her, I guess. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

As a mom of twins one of the questions that makes me crazy is when i get asked what type of fertility drugs we used. I find that to be rude and invasive. I respond by telling people none ( which is true) and that we used good old fashioned sex.... usually gets them to move on. People ask that one all the time, And yes I do get asked all the time are they identical? i have a boy & a girl, they cannot be identical. I understand that people who dont have multiples are curious and sometimes i dont mind answering but it is frustrating when you have been asked 3 times in the last 5 minutes the same questions. I love my kids and i love talking about them, but its one thing when its to someone i know or i have time to chat, and another when im in the grocery store trying to shop and keep my kids from melting down and someone wants to "take a peek" and than chat. If you become friends with this woman, she probably wouldnt mind answering your questions. Even the one about being identical. Just dont get too personal ( unless she guides the conversation that way) think of things this way, how would i feel if a complete stranger asked me that question.... Congrats on your baby

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Ok, thre are two boys and one girl....they can not all be identical. The boys can however depending if they originated from one embryo. My friends with multiples only seem to be sensitive to the questions of IVF. And remember, they are all different kids....not just "the triplets". I was married to an identical twin and people just assumed they were freaks of nature and gawked at them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I have a friend with triplets and two friends with twins. One thing that annoys all three of them is when people "announce" to them how busy they are, as in, "Oh, you ARE busy, aren't you?"

Yes, it's a comment made with good intentions, but please don't tell them how busy they are- they already know that.

As you become better friends with this woman, I'm sure she will offer the information that you are curious about... but you have really receive a lot of good responses here!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I am very interested too. ANd i think if you are kind to her in general and pretty comfy as you get to know each other you can ask your questions.
Or at least lead into them and see what she shares.
It seems everyone is so sensitive about anyone asking them anything anymore. like someone else said it's the tone and wether or not people pick up that they dont' want to answer and give them an out.

My most burning question that i am super sure is taboo, is if it is ever possible to concieve triples plus naturally?? really like the percentage must be so so small. I'm assuming it is a given that IV or something else was used.

to get back to your question try not to worry about it and good luck with the new freindship and your pregnancy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

there's no good answer to this. just reading the responses here shows a whole slew of questions that sound perfectly understandable to me, but that mothers of multiples apparently find eye-rolling.
so beyond basic courtesy (insemination questions should be off the table until a close friendship is established), all you can do is either ask no questions at all (which seems to be what most multiple moms here prefer) or try to be sensitive to her body language and ask with a great deal of caution.
actually, i think your best bet is to be frank and tell her pretty much what your question here entails. 'i think your 3 beautiful kids are fascinating and would love to know more about what it's like to parent them. but i understand that moms of multiples get really sick of endlessly being grilled. how many 'dumb' questions can you take before you want to run over me with your triple stroller?'
:) khairete

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Most of the time I don't mind answering questions about our twins. However some of them can be pretty ridiculous. Our twins are identical but one has always been a little bit bigger than the other. People ask me if the larger one was born first and act shocked when I say no. They will go on and on about how they just can't believe the smaller one was born first.

If you are worried about offending someone with multiples just put yourself in their shoes. If someone came up to you and asked how your children were conceived would you be offended? If someone said which one of your kids is the evil child, would it bother you? Those are the kinds of questions that annoy parents of multiples. I don't think you would ask those kinds of questions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I don't get offended by the questions, people are just curious. I do find it perplexing that everyone just assumes that I had a c-section with my twins which I did not.



answers from Columbia on

If there are 2 boys and 1 girl then they all can't be identical. . . that is a pretty silly question. . . the boys can be identical because well, they have the same parts, but not the girl. . .

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