Singleton Siblings of Multiples

Posted on July 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I received this message today:

I’m 52. The impact that my twin sisters have had on my life is trememdous. As a child through high school, they hurt me over and over….not intentially. Halfway through high school, I “learned and embraced” their twin relationship, and that worked into adulthood. Now, they are still inclusive with one another and exclusive to others, including my children and my Mom. I find them to be selfish, self-centered, and caring only about each other and each other’s children. The rest of us can rot in hell. Oh, they’re kind, but it’s a image. Do I sound angry? You betcha!  I lived with it but I’ll be damned if I will allow them to do the same thing to my children!
And here are my thoughts:
You didn’t leave your EM address so I am answering you here and hope you receive my thoughts.   I am so sorry for your pain, both for your own and that for your children.  As a mother myself, I can understand the depth and breadth of your wish to protect them.  I don’t have any definitive answers but I would like to offer a couple of thoughts, which hopefully may help you, even partially, understand about their relationship.  A multiples relationship IS a challenge.  Multiple-birth children are bonded from conception and their bond preempts the parents, other siblings and in some cases, the multiples’ ability to have other in-depth relationships other than with each other, including with spouses and sometimes their own children.   A woman recently wrote regarding the death of her twin aged 45 years and her “loss of her best friend and confident in this world” and she complained her husband would not let her speak of her sister nor support her in her grief.  She was upset by this and completely unaware that due to her overriding relationship with her twin, her husband had signed on for the back seat, always behind the twin sister and was resentful and no doubt now hoping to be No. 1 in his wife’s life.  This speaks volumes of a cloistered and very sad focus that some multiples, even inadvertently, foster to the detriment of anyone else, including spouses.  What chance might other siblings have if even those chosen as life partners don’t feel important or included?
52 years along, parents are more aware of the challenges respecting their multiples’ bond so focusing on teaching each to be individuals with separate interests and goals, is helpful but it still doesn’t always work out in spite of informed efforts.   Obviously I am not aware of how your childhood worked out, but I believe parents have some say in the matter by encouraging individualism with their multiples such as splitting them for sleep-overs, play dates, separate classrooms, sports, music and so.  Just because the children are multiples does not mean they always have to be together.  Helping them focus outside of themselves is essential for many reasons, some of which you have stated yourself, most importantly the multiples may not be the only children and parents have a responsibility to ALL their children.  I am left wondering how that played out in your house.  If your parents did not teach all of their children how to include others and what exclusion feels like, then your Mom may be now paying for this oversight by being excluded herself.
With respect to how your children are being treated/ignored by their aunts, consider having an honest conversation with your children but try not to let your anger/hurt lead the discussion.  Address how hurtful exclusionary actions can be and here are good examples.  Address alternatives to the exclusion so that your children can understand that leaving others out for any reasons, can be hurtful.  Share with them that your sisters are making choices and it is about their behaviour and not theirs.   You might wish to share that you felt left out growing up but I would encourage you, once again, to not let your own feelings, which are justified, lead the discussion.  You have a right to your feelings and if you feel it might work for you, consider some professional counselling.  You deserve some peace around this issue and its outcome and to know it is not your fault but a result of the circumstances of their birth, and if I can hazard a guess, perhaps your parents parenting style as well.  Twins were a novelty 50 years ago and their “cuteness” and “sameness” reenforced rather than the fact  they were also individuals.
I recently read an excellent book, One and The Same by Abigail Pogrebin published by Doubleday.  Abby is a monozygotic (identical) twin and she writes about the challenges and joys of her relationship her twin sister.  If you thought it would also help you understand a little more about the burden (yes, it sounds to me as if your sisters are burdened by their twinship) they carry, give it a read.  In truth, you are freer than they are and based on what you are sharing, I would believe that sadly they are very limited by their relationship.
Enclosing very best wishes,

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2 Responses to “Singleton Siblings of Multiples”

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Hi Lynda, I was very interested to read you articles on singleton siblings of multiples.
Having read several articles from people in the same position as myself, it was some small comfort to know that I am not alone.
I was 6 and a half when my twin sisters were born. I am now 61 years old.
My life has been very negatively affected by their”twinship”. I left home as soon as I could, I felt I was not part of the family. I have an older sister and brother as well, but they were never affected as I have been.
I left the U.K. and went to South Africa at 21, only to have the twins arrive a few years later. For all those years I have been excluded from the most part of any” family occasions” Even now that the one sister is back in the U.K. it still continues. She comes out on holiday and spends 95% of the time with her twin and comes to visit me for a few days, I always feel it’s like a token visit. I am never invited to join them when they are together.
Equally my children were never included with their cousins, it has been like we do not exist.
I really enjoy both my sisters, but they do not need me around – they have each other & that’s all they want.or need.
I feel the exclusion very strongly, and although for years I have tried to explain how I feel, they are simply not interested, and do not want to listen. It’;s just put down to me being difficult, too sensitive, jealous, etc.
My sister in U.K is coming over again this year, but will not be seeing me,. as she does not want to put up with hearing that I am hurt when I am excluded. She also informed me that I should be grateful for what is available to me….
I have started to see a psychologist in order to work through the pain and depression that I find myself in. I am back to feeling that I have no family, My older siblings have never understood the dynamics and prefer to remain in the background & not get involved.
My Mother always explains it all away by saying -” well they are twins dear.”
I am thrilled to hear that Mothers today are taught to bring up children differently, I do not wish having “exclusive twins” on anyone.

Hello, I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time around your twins sisters all these years. I was wondering if I could offer you some alternate thoughts. I find it interesting that your sisters followed you to South Africa and was wondering if perhaps there isn’t a message in that move that you might have missed, i.e. if our big sister can be this brave, maybe we would like to try this too. It isn’t unusual for siblings to mimic (copy) each other. Have you ever thought what you might bring to the table? Perhaps if you have explained to your sisters how you feel and then you interpret their response as “simply not being interested” is incorrect? Both of these thoughts are from your perspective, i.e. you say how you feel and you also judge their response. If this is the case, then there would be no winners and no healing. It may be that they feel that no matter what they do or how they act, they will not live up to your standards, expectations or pass your inspection. I am hearing that you are upset even for your own children that they do not get together with their cousins. Left to their own devices, children can get along quite well and they can also be influenced by their parents’ actions and reactions. I hope this doesn’t sound too harsh, I don’t mean it to be, what I am trying to offer you is two sides of the story rather than just the one currently on the table. We each bring things to this table and we each need to look at our actions and reactions in order to move things forward. You indicate that your sister has told you that she will not see you “as she does not want to put up with hearing that I am hurt when excluded.” There is a meaningful message to you here. Don’t miss it. What if you were to be grateful and joyful for what you do have, the time you do have together and focus on making it memorable, special, sharing and caring? Bet they, one or both, would want more of the same. It is nature’s way to be attracted to the light. This situation obviously affects you and them, and not your other brother and sister, so thinking about the things you can do to improve and change if important – we are only responsible for our own behaviour and that behaviour is the only thing within our control. If one goes out to a restaurant and the service is bad, the food mediocre/poor and expensive, would you go back? You have one sister still living nearby, why not invite her to coffee, supper with her husband, with or without kids and try to build on something with no expectations other than good food, good conversation, good atmosphere and see where it goes? Or if you have tickets to a concert, ask if they would like to attend. Go slow, keep it simple and let her know how great it was to spend the time together. You could very easily be pleasantly surprised. You have a lot more control than you feel you have, but it will entail some rethinking of how you can influence what is going on. Enclosing the very best of wishes. Lynda

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