The Younger Singleton to Twins: Rough Road Ahead?

A few months ago, while redesigning the look of this blog, I searched for a photo of my twins to place in the header. But shortly before uploading a snapshot of my fraternal twin boys beaming at the camera, I realized that something was missing. My third and youngest son. The singleton. The non twin.

Although the photo that I ultimately did choose includes all three of my boys, it could also be a metaphor for the way that many singletons feel about their position in a family with multiples. If you look carefully at the photo taken more than six years ago when we were adding an addition on to our home, you’ll notice that the body language of my twins is very open while my singleton is sitting off to the side curled up in a ball as if isolating himself.

Now before you go and start feeling all sorry for him, or worse, start questioning how your own singleton relates to your twins or triplets, let me assure you that my son isn’t suffering (and yours is probably doing just fine, too). My youngest son is in no way an outsider to the family. Although born without a cotwin, he is very much a part of each of our lives and even an integral part of the twin dyad. He’s outspoken, refusing to take a backseat to his celebrity-status brothers, and funny to a fault. Unfortunately, I also wonder if he is all of these things simply because he was born after his twin brothers. I have often thought that my youngest is assertive because he’s felt the need to be. He had to be louder in order to get the attention, to be heard above the noise of the twinship. And I wonder, would he have been someone else entirely—say, serious and studious—if he were first-born or born a singleton among two other singletons rather than twins? Is he outgoing and the class clown simply because of his family status?

I’ll never know.

Three boys sitting in a newly-constructed home.For some singletons,  it’s not always easy to be the sibling to twins or even triplets. They either compete (like my son) or choose to not to and simply withdraw. For instance, years ago when I was interviewing families for my book, Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples, one mom told me that their situation got so bad that her youngest singleton used to bring a book when the family all went out to dinner and would sit at the other end of the table and read in spite of the mom trying to draw her into the conversation. Obviously that’s an extreme example. But another mom told me that her singleton daughter confided in her, “You have Dad, and the twins have each other. I have no one.”

Yikes!

So does this mean that if you have twins and you’re expecting a singleton that he or she will be a family outcast? Hardly. But there are a few rules for the road if you’re the parent of multiples with a single-born child on the way that will help keep harmony within your clan.

Focus on the whole family, not just the twins.

Seems obvious, right? But it’s the little things that we do such as dressing our twins alike, wearing the “Proud Mom of Twins” T-shirt, signing Christmas cards, “John, Mary, Michael and the twins,” or introducing your kids with “These are my twins and this is my daughter,” that sends the message of separation rather than inclusion. In other words, don’t make a distinction between your twins and your single-born children. Think “inclusion” not “exclusion.”

Tune into your singleton’s feelings.

For example, I’m guarded about how much I talk about my work. I make a living writing about twins but I don’t want my livelihood coming at the expense of my youngest. I want him to feel on equal footing to his twin brothers. Therefore, when I’m working on a twin-related article, I often close my computer screen when my youngest approaches my desk to ask a question.

Intervene in public.

This is a biggie. When people approach you to ask about your twins (which as we all know happens often), have a “script” ready, one that deflects some of the attention away from your twins and draws it towards your singletons. For instance, when someone asks, “Are they twins?” include all your kids in your answer, “Yes. These are all my children.”

Intervene at family gatherings.

Politely steer the conversation away from too much talk about “the twins” and point out your singleton’s accomplishments as well. Grandma and Grandpa sometimes don’t realize that their compliments and pride of being the grandparents of twins can sometimes come at the expense of the other grandchildren.

Make time for just him.

Just as you carve out alone time for each twin, find the time to take your single-born child out by himself, too. Every child wants to be seen as special by Mom or Dad.

Mix things up to foster relationships between each twin and his single-born siblings.

For instance, swap roommates among all siblings instead of automatically having the twins room together. Regularly take one twin out with your singleton so that they may build a strong relationship with him or her, too.

Photo of Double Duty

45 thoughts on “The Younger Singleton to Twins: Rough Road Ahead?

  1. Karen

    A friend of mine pointed me toward your blog and this post and I am very grateful that she did.
    I have three daughters, five year old twins and a three year old who is often quite vocal and we say she seems to feel the need to be louder to ‘secure’ her place. She is strong-willed and bright and tries desperately to keep up with her older sisters.
    There are some really helpful tips in this post that I will certainly be endeavouring to bring into how we parent our children.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Wow, Karen! We are very similar! My singleton is exactly 2 1/2 years younger, to the day. He used the SCREAM a lot when he was a little boy but thankfully that has stopped now that he’s 13. But when he was in fourth grade, we had a lot of trouble with him in class. He was a real class clown to a point where the teacher told me how disruptive he was at times. The kids thought he was “entertaining” and loved his antics, but the teacher didn’t. (In my son’s defense, the teacher was a young, male, who wanted to have “fun” with the kids. I’m not sure he laid down the law early enough in his classroom.) Anyway….I write at length about singletons in my book, Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
    2. Michelle

      I know this post Is a few years old but I’m in this spot now. 3 girls 5 yr old twins and 2.5 yr old toddler. They exclude her and when she does get included they tease her and are nasty to her. It hurts my heart so badly.

      Reply
      1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

        Don’t give up! Work with them! Do whatever you can to help the situation. Maybe take one twin and the toddler out for a special day. Then swap the following week. Do what you can to help their relationship. As you can see from all the other comments from singletons, this matters. But your girls are all young. There is still time to make this work.

        Reply
  2. debbie

    Great article.. I don’t have a singleton, just the twins but found this really interesting. My hubby has twin sisters, but also another sister, so he and the other sister we very close, people often mistaken them for twins ( which surprises me as he has ID twin sisters lol )

    I’ve shared this link for all my multiple birth friends!

    Reply
  3. Tessa

    I found this article very interesting as I am the (now grown-up) younger sibling to twins. We are all girls. Growing up I knew no different – my sibling experience was, and will only ever be, having twin sisters. Sometimes people would ask what it’s like to have twins as sisters… my answer was as above, I don’t / can’t know any different, it’s my ‘norm’. And I think all children approach sibling dynamics in the same way: it’s a situation they’re born into (whether that’s with multiples, singletons or no siblings at all) and cannot control. They have no prior experience to with which cross reference. My sisters and I were always fairly close, and the age gap seemed unimportant as we grew older (and still even less relevant today).Naturally my sisters always had each other to share new experiences, they always had a partner to play/gossip/fight with. I can remember times when I was overlooked, couldn’t be involved or simply wasn’t needed. But every sibling experiences this at some stage. Interestingly, it wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I, with the help of a counsellor, started to understand the implactions of my unique sibling relationship – that it HAD impacted on my personality (for good and bad) and self esteem. Of course, environmental factors and other family dynamics all play a part. But I wanted to share my experience so that mothers of twins with (especially younger) siblings can be alert and aware. I’m not sure it’s something my mother ever considered or thought about. The upside to the age gap with my sisters is that I had mum to myself during the day for 5 years while my sisters were at school. Thinking back, I’m sure this was crucial in helping my feel special without needing the validation of specialness that comes with being a twin. I’m happy to share more or answer any questions.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Tessa. I do worry about my singleton and this is just a reminder that I need to tune into him more. He’s the most “independent” out of all of us. And when I asked him about this he said, “You have Dad, and my brothers have each other. So I guess I’m more independent.” I took that to me that he feels on his own sometimes. I don’t want him to feel that way.

      Reply
      1. Tessa

        Hi Christina, for some reason I didn’t receive notification of your reply until Mrs Black’s reply (below) came through. All this time I thought no-one had responded, and so I didn’t come back to check.

        Being the sibling of twins is so unique, but I hadn’t properly considered it until a close friend wondered out loud on the affect it must’ve had on a) my upbringing, and b) my personality. You mentioned your son is the most independent. I can say unequivocally that I am also the most independent out of the 3 of us (my siblings and I). I had to be. And I’m now grateful for that.

        As Mrs Black mentions below, the husbands are ‘along for the ride’ so to speak: the most important people in my sisters’ lives are each other. For good or bad. I’m not judging that. I think it’s part of the complexity of twinship. A bond beyond which singletons can comprehensively understand. I doubt my sisters are aware of this connection or how it looks from the outside.

        I go through phases of being close to my sisters and then needing to distance myself. As I grow older I’m ‘awakening’ to their codependency: the sisters I perceived as distinct individuals whilst growing up really are innately connected with each other in a way I’ll never be a part of. Another form of rejection, isolation. That was my first instinct. Now I see it almost like a tangle they cannot extricate themselves from, nor would they wish to, I imagine. I guess they’re oblivious. And maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it only matters to us ‘outsiders’, the ones watching on.

        Being a sibling to twins has ultimately led me to greater independence. As a kid I used to joke that I was ‘whole’ (i.e., egg) while they were two halves, needing each other to be complete. I wonder now if it wasn’t so far from the truth.

        Reply
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  8. Mrs Black

    I found this blog site while trying to find a discussion forum for siblings of twins and I felt compelled to post a reply. I am in my early 30s and the younger sister of identical twin girls; there is an 8 year age gap between us. Like Tessa (blog above), I grew up thinking my situation was ‘normal’ and was having no affect on me, although my eldest twin sister constantly referred to the impact they supposedly had on me. She often told people that I wished I was a twin, that I was jealous of not being a twin, and that I was messed up because I wasn’t a twin. I can honestly say that I have never once wanted to be a twin, but I have always felt a deep sense of being alone and from the moment I hit puberty I was on mission to find a mate for life. My sister was right about one thing though, they have both negatively impacted on my life and I have been battling confidence issues for years due to their bullying and manipulation of me and also our mum. I first became aware of this in therapy several years ago and have gradually gained some understanding, although at present I am still struggling with letting go of their ability to upset me without falling into the trap of hating them. My most notable character trait is my intrinsic need to please and although I can’t be sure, I suspect this evolved due to never being ‘good enough’ for my sisters. The age gap definitely worsened my situation and gave them more status, and my parents’ admit that they were soft on me because I had to contend with ‘two sets of parents’ and my sisters were particularly hard. These mixed messages were obviously confusing for a people-pleasing child to interpret. Due to her own issues/disfunctional family my mum wasn’t able to stand up to my sisters and they learned to dominate her from an early age; I think they were pre-disposed to this as they have never actually seemed to need her the way that I do; in fact even their husbands are treated like ‘twin groupies’, along for the ride, but non essential. The most useful thing I have learned about identical twins is their development of an un-natural ego. Even when indentical twins hold different oppinions they always understand and sympathise with each other. They are the only people on the planet who have a carbon copy of themselves to tell them that they are never wrong, and if those egos go unchallenged, as my sisters’ did, they get out of control. They have no concept of loneliness or insecurity because they are never alone, and are always reassured by each other, and this can lead them a tunnelled/ scewed view of the world, themselves and others.
    On the upside, my sisters’ constant assertion that I was so different from them led me to explore those differences (Much like the singleton boy dressing as a girl in a related post) and in comparrison with them I find I have a better ability to cope with challenges and changes as I have had to face them on my own, which is something my sisters are unable to experience. I am more enlightened with regards to life and the world, where as they are stuck reassuring each other that there is no need to change or develop as they are both perfect the way they are.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Thank you so much for sharing this. Your honesty and insight is very powerful. As the mother to a three boys including a younger singleton, I’m always wondering if my single-born child is “getting lost in the shuffle.” I don’t want to make him out to be a victim because he’s not but at the same time I want to be sensitive to his place in the family. Not always easy to distinguish.

      Reply
  9. Vanessa

    Thank you so much for this blog and to the people leaving comments. I have 3.5 year old identical twins and a 18month old singleton, all girls.
    Up until recently everything has been great and they have all had their ‘part’..
    My twins have a very, very special bond, always with each other even at day care and my little one is very independent. Recently we changed bubbaz cot into a toddler bed as she was climbing out and seemed to be very frustrated that her older sisters had freedom in the morning but she didn’t. But, all she wants to do is be in her sisters bedroom or my arms.. Should I put her bed in her sisters bedroom ? She also seems to be upset that her bed isn’t the same as her sisters big girl bed ! I know this age little ones can be clingy I just hate feeling that she might feel left out.. We’ve even contemplated having another baby so she has a buddy (also because we happy life and I would have 100 kids if I could!)
    Also everyone pray for me for the hormonal teenage years LOL !
    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated !

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      My first response was, “yes!” Switch up roommates. We did it in our house. Your twins already have a strong bond regardless of what you do. Now it’s time to work on building the relationship with your 18-month-old and her sisters. Start now while she’s young. In our house, we have two bedroom for three boys. So we tried several senarios–first we changed roommates every six months. When that got to be too much (they weren’t happy about moving their stuff around twice a year), we made one bedroom a “bunk room” for sleeping only, while the other room became a “study/play room,” no beds, just a huge wrap-around desk, TV for gaming console, and computer station. Read about it here.

      Also, try splitting the girls up in other ways. For instance, take one twin and your younger daughter out for an afternoon of running errands, then switch the next time you go out. In addition, try to find something that each of your twins has in common with your younger daughter, perhaps a love of a favorite game. Encourage each of your twins to “mentor” their younger sister. I realize that everyone is still very young, but start brainstorming now and coming up with ideas so that it won’t turn into a problem later down the road.

      Reply
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  12. Amanda

    I stumbled across this after seeing a story about birth order and impacts on personality and realized none of the descriptions worked when twins are involved. So I began to search to see if anyone has written about being the sibling of multiples. I am the younger sister to older, very identical, twin boys. There is 2.5 years between us and I know unequivocally that having older twin brothers shaped a lot of my personality and how I approach life. I noticed that a lot of the posts are by people with siblings of the same sex, and while this in itself can be enough for incidences of isolation for the singleton, as you and others have pointed out, I wanted to emphasize that having older twin brothers as a girl was particularly impacting. The compounding effect of being different sexes and being twin-less created what sometimes felt like a tangible gap between me and my brothers. I care very deeply about my brothers, I always have, but I can also remember distinctly any moment of my childhood in which I some how outperformed one or both of them. And I always remember spending a great deal of my childhood trying very hard to outperform them, always feeling like they had a head start on being “special”. I think it was more than typical sibling rivalry as I know I put much too much emotional emphasis on that time I swam faster, or got a better grade, or started paying for my own gas first. I also distinctly remember the “Twins Make Life Twice as Nice” license plate frame, that all of the family passwords were some derivation of twinboys2 and that every first conversation at Christmas with Aunts and Uncles was about which twin had the facial hair so they could tell them apart because they look so darn alike! We moved a lot as children and I was always first known as the twins’ little sister. I have had countless conversations with friends about their connection, but very few about my connection with them as individuals. I understand the fascination, I understand my parents’ pride, and I understand that no matter what my siblings will always be closer to each other than they are to me. Being the younger sibling, your first identity is always attached to theirs, but not in a fulfilling and inclusive way. So after struggling for years to show that my one was somehow “better” then their two, I found that some sort separation from that definition would be easier. I have no doubts that this is why I went to college in NY while my brothers stayed locally in the west, and why I am doing graduate school (also probably a lot to do with why I am doing graduate school at all) in Europe. I think I subconsciously craved an identity that did not involve my brothers, but still had to be special.

    In saying all of this I also note that one of my brothers, who lives further away from our parents than the other, has also not told many of his new work colleagues that he has a twin. My parents and extended family did nothing intentionally, but by allowing them to always be seen as a matching pair I think he is also craving an identity away from that. You give some helpful tips, and I think you have pointed out that it is important to allow each child their identity. But this goes beyond resisting the urge to dress them alike. This goes to not always saying their names in couplets to the repetition that it is almost one name. This means you may have to say this is my son X, my daughter Z and my son Y. Why not? Why does the X and Y always have to be stated together. I think if we had had more situations where people saw us as 1, 2 and 3 and not 2 +1 we all might have felt different about ourselves. Mixing rooms was not an option for us but I like it. I think it would have helped. Also, as adults, I think my brothers have realized that a lot of the things they did not have in-common with each other they actually would have had with me. One likes to bake, the other loves reading; I do both with a passion. I think if my parents had noticed those things and encouraged that between us, facilitating couplings that didn’t involve identical genetics, it might have helped my aggressive need for achievement and their need for individualism. It honestly never occurred to any of us in my family that I might be a better partner for my brother in certain activities.

    To any parents who might be raising a family with similar dynamics to mine, have heart. Like I said, I care very much about my brothers. They fulfilled the big brother obligations of fixing my car, intimidation boyfriends and relentless loving teasing among countless others. I am a very driven person, but so are my brothers, cousins, parents and friends so them being twins was never the only motivation, it just might have been a less healthy one. It is not an unhappy drive. My parents are fantastic people, who did an amazing job raising us. I am proud of my brothers and I know they are proud of me. I do wish we were closer however and I am confident that as we become older, become parents ourselves (I’m a proud aunt) we will approach the next stage of our lives with a stronger sense of connection than before.

    Reply
  13. Kayla O.

    Reading this and other comments, I am also compelled to reply. I am the second born twin (FT sisters) and we have a younger sister by 10 years. I don’t believe we ever had inflated egos due to out twinship. Yes, my family stressed that we are special, but it was due to our unique traits, not because we were born with someone else. She never allowed us to be called “the twins” so we were able to really develop as our own persons. When my little sister was born, we made an unspoken challenge to be the best big sister to her. This makes her feel very special because her two big sisters are essentially competing for her attention, rather than the other way around. She isn’t an awkward third wheel to our relationship, we have a special one to our selves separate from the one they share. In this case, our natural competitive nature worked to the advantage of my little sister. When we moved away to different colleges, she took the separation just as hard as my older sister and me. You can’t force a relationship between twin and singleton siblings, they have to want it for themselves, it is something instilled throughout their lives growing up, and a perception that isn’t likely to change once kids become more self-aware.
    The “special bond” is another stereotype about twins that I find frustrating. Yes, it is very special to be born with your “best friend” that will “always be there for you and have your back” but what’s tough is when one twin decides to spread their wings and find themselves away from their sibling. Younger singletons aren’t the only ones who feel left out, pushed aside or like a shadow. Instead of allowing resentment to build, encouge siblings to have deep conversations about how they feel. And as adults, talk to your twin siblings, I’m sure you will see that they felt just like you did at some point, and there is an opportunity for a deeper connection to begin.
    hope this helps from the other side,
    Kayla O.

    Reply
  14. Emily W

    Hello, thanks for this article. I am a mum of ID twin girls (almost 6) and a 17 month old little boy. I deliberately left a gap between my twins and my third child just in case we had another girl, as I wanted them to have that specialness of being “the youngest” as they wouldn’t be a twin – having a boy has alleviated some of that problem.
    So far, obviously, we haven’t had any “problems” with him being a singleton as he’s too young to understand, but I shall remember your article and make sure our whole family remember that just because my youngest isn’t a twin, he’s no less important than my girls :) To me, that’s obvious though :)

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      Thanks for visiting! And how great that you purposely took the time to consider what life would be like for your youngest!

      Reply
  15. Michelle

    Great post glad I saw this! I have 4 year
    Old ID twin girls and a 1 year old baby. There is about a 2.5 year difference and the poor baby is always so secluded. The twins hate when she tries to play even near them let alone with them it’s actually painful to watch. My heart aches that they don’t react like the normal big siblings would. They aren’t happy they don’t try and make her laugh to hug her. They never wanted to hold her or anything. I just don’t know how to get them to bond. I know this post is really old but it was a little hopeful

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      ID twins are often tight. I bet as they get older, they’ll take a bigger interest especially when they get to school and begin to form their own friends and stronger individuality. In the meantime, take one twin out along with the baby when you run errands. Without the distraction of her cotwin, she may find herself more drawn to her younger sister.

      Reply
  16. te

    My twins and baby are only a year apart. The baby wants to do everything her big sisters are doing. The twins love her and they have an amazing bond between the three of them. Hopefully it will stay like this since their all so close in age! Thanks for the insightfull article!

    Reply
  17. Jo Ann Cargill

    I am a 51 year old single birth with older twin sisters. I spent the majority of my childhood looking for my face on a milk carton. I would give anything to have had a sister not twin sisters. I have searched for a support group and I hope you can suggest one.
    Thank you

    Reply
  18. mandy

    Thank you for this post. I am a single born 4 years after ID twin girls. My brother is 4 years behind. My advice to parents… Please do not introduce your children as “the twins, our son, and then there’s ______ in the middle.” I am in my 30’s now and still struggle with my birth order off and on….it has caused self – worth issues, isolation, etc. All the things others have mentioned here. I think there are also many positives as well, but it has taken years and a lot of work to get to the point of recognizing and accepting that. I also love the idea of changing up sharing rooms. That would have helped me so much, but don’t know how it would have worked since they were four years older with different activities, bedtimes, etc. I felt so isolated in my own room. Thanks again for this post. I would love to connect with others who have older twin siblings of the same gender and then different gender after.

    Reply
  19. Katie

    I’m a sibling to twin sisters. I hate to say it but my parents didn’t make nearly as much effort with me as they did with my twin sisters. I’m glad you’re making an effort with your youngest son. If he saw this one day I’m sure it would mean the world to him. I think that being a sister to twins has had quite a big effect on me and I hope that this isn’t a common thing to other siblings of twins.

    Reply
  20. Radha

    Yes, am a singleton sister of very closely bonded 1 year elder twin sisters. Even though we had just 1 year age gap, Am always left alone from my childhood to today.it have a great effect on my peraonality. I lost my confidence of making friends, being happy..I instead tried to cover my loneliness being more calm and reading books. Even today after we 3 have our own families and kids. I still feel the pain they gave me.am glad you mommies are making some effort to make your singleton not left alone. Please plan for an other kid for your singleton.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      “Please plan for another kid for your singleton.” What a wonderful idea! Sadly, I didn’t know any better (but my body couldn’t take another pregnancy) so I’ll just have to be more sensitive to my singleton. Thanks for your comments. But I’m curious…when you say the “pain they gave me,” what do you mean? Did they deliberately exclude you? Were they mean to you? I would love to hear more (as would so many other mothers of twins and singletons out there).

      Reply
  21. Breanna

    Thank you for writing this! I have 2 year old twin boys and were expecting our third boy beginning of January. We just found out the baby is a boy, and while I’m so happy, I honestly was hoping for a girl so they wouldn’t feel as left out of what my twin boys share in their relationship. I know I can’t worry about this, but I also want to be prepared to help our third feel a sense of belonging. Anyway, thanks again! I’ll be looking for more posts similar to this one!

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      You’re in the exact same boat as me–twin boys first, single boy two and a half years later. In reading the comments from singletons, I realize that I have hit upon something. I will keep writing on the subject….maybe a post with “tips” from the singletons who’ve lived through it. Congratulations on the new baby!

      Reply
  22. Sarah

    Thank you for this post it is so interesting.
    I am the baby sister of twin sisters with a six year age gap. I am now 34 and they are 40,
    I do not have the elder of the twins in my life anymore, and barely have a functioning relationship with the younger one. Mind you they only have a five minute age difference. Though they were raised as though the older one was the eldest, the second was the middle child and I was the baby. The older one was treated as the stronger better twin and the second was always treated as second fiddle.
    I have no relationship with the older twin due to her bullying of me for years, when I hit about 25 I had enough and gave her just as good as she gave me, she couldn’t handle it and flew into a narcissistic rage and threatened my life. So I severed ties.
    The second twin attempts to be the family hero and smooth things over, though she manipulates my mothers opinion of myself and the older twin causing major family strife that goes under the radar. She is just as narcissistic only more covert about it.
    At school they had a large clique of friends that the older twin was the leader of.
    Throughout life they have been pitted against each other by our parents. Thus leading them both to almost being bankrupt, as they compete over who has the nicer car, house, furnishings, best vacations etc.
    I do feel as though I have bad self esteem due to the complete and utter exclusion of me.
    I have been told that their actions are justified because I was so spoiled as a child.
    I seemed spoiled because I got all of their hand me down toys, so double of everything plus my own new toys, there fore I should be treated like crap forever. It is ridiculous and shows that they are somehow developmentally arrested.
    I have no good memories of them, I have no desire to be around them, I just mostly try to keep them in my past where they belong.
    In saying all of this I don’t blame them, I blame very poor parenting. It was wrong of my dad to have them compete against each other, it was wrong of my mother to not nurture a good relationship between siblings.
    It was wrong of my parents to decide to have another child without a fourth for me to bond with.
    Though it does come down to the individual and the way they decide to parent their child.
    In my case there is a narcissistic family dynamic going on where I have become the scapegoat,
    the middle sister is the hero and the show is run by a pair of narcissists, being the eldest twin and my dad, with mum being co dependant.
    So there was not much chance for little old me. Though I am glad that I realise what is happening now rather than in 50 years, and have a wasted life of emotional turmoil. I am no longer a Victim instead I try to share my story with others going through a similar experience.
    I also totally understand what one of the above posters said about twin groupies, that describes my brother inlaws to a tee.
    The fuss made over them when I was young was so great that even I would try to impress people with the fact I had older twin sisters. I was referred to as the twins sister, and as a young adult made an afterthought when organising our dads 60th birthday party and other family functions including MY OWN WEDDING.
    It is almost as though I have zero voice in my family of origin due to birth order. I am sure my Dad was just trying for a boy. He has said if I had have been guaranteed a boy I would have had a fourth. The eldest has told me on numerous occasions over the years that mum and dad didn’t want me and that they wanted a boy. So talk about feeling unwanted. Not only that they are identical twins but they are very overweight and always have been, they take after our maternal grandmother, whereas I am a waif and take after my paternal grandmother, I don’t even look like I am related to them.
    So to those of you who have twins think very, very, carefully about a third sibling and the impact it will have on that little persons life.

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  23. Brandi

    Thank you for this post…and for the suggestions you make regarding “switching up”. I am an older singleton sibling (sister) of identical twins (also girls)….there is a 2 year gap between us, and though my parents were wonderful, I wish they had been more proactive in creating situations for me to bond with the twins as individuals. I often felt like the odd one out. I often stated that Mom and Dad have each other, the twins have each other, and I have no one. I say this having had a good childhood. I have good memories of my times with my sisters, but because of their bond they don’t regard me at all. They barely acknowledge the rest of our family. They stay in touch with Mom and Dad, but it’s almost like they don’t consider me part of their extended family unit. They are both Moms, I have been unable to be, and I believe that causes an even greater rift. Their children all do things together, like a large family…and it is seldom my parents are considered. I am never considered or invited. I knew that it hurt my siblings that I was often upset as a child that they left me out…and as we grew up I started to purposely disclude them, I suppose a little to ‘pay them back’ for how I felt not included, mostly to try to find out who I was supposed to be. I found my own friends, and interests. But in I always tried to stay connected with them in some way. Now, we have drifted so far apart that I feel there really is no way to establish a connection. I have tried to talk to them, but they always say they aren’t upset at me, just “busy”. Always with each other. I offer this up here because I wish that I had some relationship with them now. Nieces and Nephews would bring great joy to me…but because of the bonds that were never formed it isn’t something I will ever have with them. I think that every sibling relationship has difficulties and competition, and I think that your ideas to switch things up would truly help twins and singletons alike to understand that the struggles between sibs are just that. Not us (twins) vs not twin. It’s too late for my family, but I pray someone here really takes this advice to heart so other singletons can have a rewarding relationship with each twin sibling.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s never too late to mend relationships. Maybe you should send your sisters these articles and comments from all the other singletons here and ask that you all try for a “do over.” Maybe your sisters never realized that their strong bond had such an impact on you. It’s always worth a try. Good luck.

      Reply
  24. Kathy

    This comment board is really helping me and is the first forum where I can relate to almost everything about being a singleton to twin siblings. My twin brothers are 5 years older than me and my younger brother is 2 years younger than me. It’s been terribly difficult growing up inside my family. My parents did a wonderful job of raising us and providing a stable, loving home. Despite that, my twin brothers were only concerned with each other. It is probably expected of twins to be co-dependent but it’s very sad that in doing so, the rest of the family were considered appendages. Perhaps it’s because I’m female that I was never allowed inside their universe. To this day, as a 55 year old woman, I am still mostly invisible to them. They recently had a 60th birthday bash and I wasn’t invited, nor was mom who is now 86 (healthy and well). Dad passed on years ago but would have been crushed had he known that. Each of them married sisters who somehow took their cues from my brothers, hence, I really don’t know my niece and nephews all that well. It’s just sad all around. When I look back on it with logic, it’s easy to see how our parents did the best they could do with what people knew about twins in the 1950’s when Dr. Spock was all the rage. We were all loved equally and unconditionally too. It’s only in the last 5 years or so that my head has begun to rule my heart about the social isolation inside the family. It wasn’t their fault nor was it anyone’s really. It probably explains my insecurities and sense of not being liked much. I’m quite a loner and to be honest am not sure if my twin siblings had much to do with that – or if it’s just a personal trait within myself? I dunno. Thing is, it’s been a lonely haul all of these years. I’m really thrilled to have found this comment area and to finally read about all the other people who have gone through various and similar circumstances with their own twin siblings. Thank you ever so much, all of you for sharing your experiences! Reading them has given me so much insight into myself and makes me feel a little less crazy. Ha! I just wish there was some support group or yes even a psychiatrist here where I live in Canada who specializes in siblings of twins. But this is marvellous and please keep up the great work on this site. Cheers, Kathy.

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  25. Melia

    I was the singleton daughter to an older twin brother and sister, younger by 3 1/2 years ! I so know the feeling of being the “odd one out”! Even more difficult, my parents would go out and leave me alone with my brother and sister. Yes, I was locked in the closet, fed odd food, teased, you name it. Yet I came out just fine. I graduated from college, was married for 30 years [now widowed but happily in a new relationship], and bought a house newly single, while holding down a steady career path now 16 years strong. Funny thing is, I still get the ‘older sister and brother’ deserve respect attitude: I have to be the first one to call, brother never remembers my birthday, and so on. I guess some relationships never change, go figure. Alas, I am proud to say that I am happy and well adjusted. Carry on, oh Singletons of the world!

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  26. Claire

    This was really interesting to read your replies – being a singleton of twins is not something that the vast majority of people have any experience of. I am the oldest by 2 1/2 years from my sisters. My mother was delighted to have twins, partly because she is very maternal by nature but also because they have run on her side of the family. I remember as a child getting to a certain stage and deciding to just do things on my own. I am in my thirties and people comment how independent and solitary I can be – perhaps some of this is nature but I’m sure a large amount of it is nurture too! It wasn’t easy being the oldest child at times, particularly because they always had each other and my parents never argued. Also they were good at virtually everything, my Mum related more closely to them than to me and we spent hours discussing their success, hobbies, life and achievements. On the positive end it did help me develop traits which have been useful in later life – if I want to do something/go somewhere then I will, it’s not scary to be on my own (this was particularly useful when travelling) and as I was left alone more than them it helped me develop a stronger sense of identity and do what I was truly passionate about. Also as my sisters grow older I’ve realised there is a vulnerability in being a twin and not being able to live without someone, if that someone is not there or falls out with you, this is not an easy thing to just put up with as nobody else can replace that person. Like some of you, I simply reached a stage where I didn’t want to be the spare part (observer on the sidelines, talking about them) any more, this happened in my late 20s. Now we live a long way away from each other, this has widened the gap still further and when we do meet up we have very little in common. My Mum in particular is not happy about this situation but family dynamics are something that are pretty resistant to change and it was always frustrating to return to the family for the same old issues to resurface that didn’t happen in the real world (being ignored, spending the whole time talking about two people in the room). I think the sharing of the bedroom might have worked, had we done it at an early enough stage and also less emphasis on ‘the twins’ as a unit within the family. I also wish I had followed my instincts at 16 and moved to a different school than them (I am making them sound awful and they aren’t, a lot of this wasn’t their fault) but always talking about them and being reminded of their constant success did not help me in adolescence when my self esteem was rubbish and I was struggling with other issues.

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