Ah, the dreaded lone birthday party invitation. If you have twins, it’s coming. Maybe not now, maybe not next week but at some point in your twins’ early school years, one will get an invitation to a party, sleepover, or play date that the other does not. Now what do you do? Do you take the easy way out and call the host and ask if your son can bring his cotwin, too? Or do you take a deep breath and lovingly explain to the uninvited twin that his cotwin is heading out alone?
I’m going to be the Mean Mommy today and say, suck it up and go for the latter. Yes, resist calling the host with your plus-one request. Now before you write me off as insensitive, hear me out. Below are just a few reasons to reconsider picking up that phone.
The invited twin deserves to go alone.
Sure, most twins are BFFs. Yes, most twins enjoy hanging out together. But many young twins rarely, if ever, get an opportunity to step out alone without a cotwin. And I’m not talking about heading out for an afternoon of errands with just mom or dad. I’m talking about going into a new social setting all alone. It’s something that we as singletons take for granted. We have ample opportunities from an early age to learn how to navigate life on our own without a cotwin as back up (or a parent in the shadows), to make personal discoveries, to have unique solo experiences that we don’t have to share with someone else. Most twins don’t have that luxury during their early school years.
And why is that important? Being alone in a new social situation is how we figure out who we are. It’s how we learn to make decisions for ourselves. There’s inner growth. There’s confidence building. We learn self-reliance. It’s up to us as parents to make sure all our children including our twins have an opportunity to test the waters on their own. And, yes, it begins with that first lone invitation.
Twins are individuals.
We know how to talk-the-talk but now we have to walk-the-walk. In other words, we say our twins are two different people. We dress them differently. We put them in different classrooms, too. We encourage them to pursue their own hobbies and dreams. But if we continue to make sure everything in their lives is even-steven—wherever one twin goes, the other follows—we’re subtly sending the message that they are not individuals allowed to venture out on their own but rather a pair that should always be together.
Twins need to develop a thick social skin.
All children must learn to deal with disappointment but that difficult life lesson is often delayed for twins. Why? Because parents of twins continue to inadvertently shield them. It can go on for years as many parents go to great lengths to level the playing field between their twins, more often than they would for their single-born children. There’s the mom who didn’t tell one of her twins that he got into the gifted program at school simply because his cotwin didn’t. Or, the dad who didn’t let his twins compete for a single spot on the basketball team. It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction but at what price? Sooner or later, twins will get a wake-up call, that slap in the face that life is not fair. Will they bounce back successfully or crumble under the struggle? As much as we want to shield our kids from the crappy stuff, it’s our responsibility instead to help our kids understand the disappointments of life. Rather than trying to fix every dilemma, we should sympathize with them and remind them that they will get through the rough patches as stronger people.
It’s not fair to the host.
Birthday parties are expensive especially if they’re held in a venue outside of the host’s home. It may be embarrassing for the host to tell you that the added expense would be a hardship and few (if any) would accept your offer to pay for an additional guest.
Calling the host may backfire setting off a series of unfortunate events.
Let’s say you call the host and ask if both twins can attend the party. Most will acquiesce and say, “yes” if only out of politeness or that they simply don’t know how to gently say “no.” But now you’ve set a precedence, one that may have ugly consequences. The host may avoid inviting your twin in the future knowing that they are an all-or-nothing proposition.
It’s best to help your twins understand and accept from an early age that they’re not a package deal and that each gets the opportunity to do something special on his own. With your loving help and understanding, they will.
Too Draconian? Go ahead, tell me what you think!