Is It OK to Invite Only One Twin?

One of the more entertaining aspects to writing this blog is sifting through all the interesting search terms people use in order to find it. Most are obvious and self-explanatory such as “twin pregnancy blog” or “can identical twins look different?” Some are puzzling like “which twin to introduce first?” But my all-time favorite has to be “what is the teeny twin used for?” (Don’t ask me what they were looking for—I haven’t a clue.)

This week, however, I spotted a search phrase that struck a cord. “Is it OK to invite only one twin?”

Short answer? Yes. Please do.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this question from (I presume) a parent without twins. A few years back, for instance, a friend who is the mother of two singletons, called me for a bit of advice. It seemed her fourth-grade son was friendly with a twin at school and wanted to invite him over for a play date but my friend was hesitant because, she explained, the twins do everything together. She felt uncomfortable excluding one twin. But her son was only friendly with the one twin, not the other. In fact, he didn’t particularly care for the other twin. Yet despite my urging, my friend couldn’t bring herself to call the other mother and just invite the one twin. So her son never had his play date, and ultimately as the school year progressed, the friendship cooled as the relationship never had a chance to blossom and grow.

Blonde twin boys smiling for the cameraWhen I pressed my friend on her reluctance in inviting just the one twin, she couldn’t get past the fact that the twins were always together—in the classroom and on the playground, playing on the same sports team and belonging to the same clubs—and she didn’t think that they’d want to be separated. In short, she didn’t want to be viewed as the “bad guy,” the mom who tried to break up a twin pair before they were ready.

As the parents of multiples, we know that our twins often enjoy being together. After all, they’re not only twins but friends, too. Yet they also appreciate their time alone. It’s great that twins share so much but it’s equally important for each twin to venture out all on his own whether it’s to a summer camp or to a birthday party. But how do we convince parents with singletons that it’s fine to reach out to just one twin? We need to encourage them. And often.

When my twins were in second grade, for instance, a mom approached me after school. Although her son had invited only one of my twins to his birthday party, she wanted me to know that it was fine for my son to bring along his cotwin. I smiled and thanked her but told her that I’d prefer if he went alone. She looked puzzled. But when I explained that twins sometimes don’t get a chance to have experiences all on their own, and that I wanted my son to have a unique memory separate from his cotwin, it finally made sense to her.

Still, it’s also important for parents of multiples to reflect upon how they are presenting their twins, triplets or quads to the community around them. Are you sending a subtle message that your twins are a package and not two individuals? That’s not to say you should force your twins to play separately or attend different after-school activities. Twins are first and foremost friends, a wonderful sibling bond that will endure through good times and bad throughout the course of a lifetime. It’s precious and sacred. But twins will grow up and go their separate ways each having a family all his own. They need to learn the art of navigating life sans twin. And they should learn these valuable lessons at home from their parents.

So the next time a classmate shows an interest in just one of your twins, encourage the relationship. In fact, why not approach the mom and suggest that just the two children get together for a play date? She may just welcome the offer.


12 thoughts on “Is It OK to Invite Only One Twin?

  1. flutterby113

    I couldn’t agree more! I am an identical twin and am often frustrated when people feel they must invite my twin just because they are inviting me, or vice versa. I understand they are trying to be polite, but over the years this has caused more problems that it solved between my twin and me.

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Thanks for the comment. It’s true, parents are just being polite because they don’t know the “rules.” They don’t have twins so they sometimes feel uncomfortable. It’s our job as twins and parents of twins to help singleton families feel more comfortable.

  2. Cheryl

    As a twin mom too, I COMPLETELY concur with your perspective as well, Christina! Why should a twin get a “benefit” a non-simultaneously born sibling wouldn’t? Creating an environment wherein twins feel “entitled” to special treatment is a dangerous thing indeed. While it hasn’t been my favorite parenting task to explain “you cannot always do everything your brother/sister does,” it’s been an invaluable life lesson in learning as the Stones sung, “you can’t always get what you want!” Coping is a great skill to learn EARLY…delaying it due to “twindom” or sheer inconvenience is a parenting cop-out in my opinion. Making it MUCH harder later….

  3. Jan

    I SO agree! Mine are only in 1st grade, but I’m afraid that other moms see them as a “matched set”, so we don’t get any invitations…they are boys, and are rambunctious, so in my mind it would be daunting to invite them both over. But one…? Not so bad! I’m not sure how to get the message out to everyone, but the two moms that I have encouraged to do this DO NOT want to be the “bad guy” and invite just one. Grrr…it’s going to happen sooner or later…and it’s good for them!

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      That a’girl! Maybe you can arrange a double play date–ship one twin off to someone’s house and invite someone else over for the other twin. Keep trying because once the pattern is set, it is harder to get out of. Good luck.

  4. Pingback: Why Do Twins Fight? | Blog About Twins

  5. twin mom

    I completely disagree with everyone who thinks it is ok to just not invite a twin to a party. I have two pre-teen girls (12) who sit at a huge table with 20 girls at lunch. Twice over half the girls were invited to a party and one of my twins was not. This puts her in a situation of having to answer to everyone “why were you not invited when your twin sister was?” Facing teen age years is hard enough to have to answer such a question. Friends come and go through life, but your sister will always be a sister. Don’t EVER put families in the position of having to choose between a friend and a sister (let alone a twin). In time, everyone will figure out that temporary friends/parties are not as important as family. (PS We usually have plans as a family whenever one girls is invited and the other is not). –Also, this is not to say that each girl can have their own friends for projects, sports, etc. Of course they are individuals and will always have lives of their own–let’s just HELP them through the tough social years!!!!!!!!

    1. Carrie

      I think it really depends on the situation. I’m perfectly okay with just one of my twin, 11 yr old girls, being invited to fun activity/birthday party, IF she is the only one friends with the person doing the invite. However, when both of my girls feel like they are friends with this person, but just 1 gets invited, that’s when it’s not OK. It breaks my heart seeing my one daughter have a broken heart wondering why she isn’t invited.

      1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

        Wow, that would be cruel! Has that ever happened??? I can’t imagine that the parent of the birthday girl would allow that!

        1. Carrie

          Yes. At least a handful of times. Even friends of mine have done it. If my girls don’t know about the invitation, I will RSVP No, telling them it will hurt the other twin’s feelings. If my one daughter brings the invitation home, then I feel I’m stuck allowing it. The one that keeps getting excluded has issues with being bullied and often wishes she was her twin! These mom’s know this! I bite my tongue and just wished they had twins!! It is never okay to leave kids out. I make sure to include whoever I can to make sure no feelings get hurt. Being a kid can be pretty rough trying to fit it.

          1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

            Wow. That’s terrible. 11 is a rough age. Middle school was definitely a tough time for one of my twins. The good news is that he survived–he’s a mature kid now (19!). Happy, confident. Good social circle. Sometimes a fresh start (i.e. different high school) can make a HUGE difference. It gives the struggling twin a chance to reinvent himself/herself. Thanks for commenting. I’m sure other parents who have similar issues with their twins can relate.

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