SUPPORTING SURVIVING CO-MULTIPLES *Warning: Some readers may find this article difficult to read.

Posted on July 2, 2018. Filed under: Multiple Birth, Quadruplets, quintuplets, raising multiples, Triplets, Twins | Tags: , , , , , , |

I have been supporting and writing resources for bereaved parents, grandparents and surviving multiples for over 32 years and a few thoughts come to mind for the latter, i.e. surviving co-multiples (SC). SC, even when they lose their co-multiple in utero, at birth, shortly thereafter or in early childhood, can grieve enormously for their special womb mate(s). Survivors who have had their co-multiple for years and decades before he or she dies, find it extremely hard to go from “We” to “I.” One man stopped shaving when his MZ twin died, because he could not bear looking in the mirror. It is not uncommon for a survivor to want to die, kill themselves, and join their co-multiple.
I have thought long and hard about to better prepare, if it is at all possible, the SC for when the time came when they must be alone. Of course there will be difficult days, unbearable grief, fear, loneliness, emptiness, feeling incomplete and so much more. But what if parents did better at the beginning of their multiples’ lives? By better, I mean teaching and encouraging their multiples to not only enjoy their multiple relationship but also be comfortable with being alone and separated from time to time from their co-multiple? Some ideas I have in mind are quite a few “DON’Ts”:
-DON’T give them rhyming names, or names which begin with the same letter as this presents them as a package;
-DON’T call them “the twins” or “the triplets” which also presents them as a group and there is no individuality in these labels, nor is their gender known;
-DON’T continually dress them alike. Once again, it presents them as a group and it can impossible to recognize the individual;
-DON’T always take them out only together. Split them up from time to time for errands, groceries, doctor appointments, sleep overs at grandparents and so much more. This helps them be apart, yet they can enjoy each other’s company upon their return. Parents also get one-on-one time;
-DON’T keep doing their hair alike. Let each individual personality shine through;
-DON’T insist they only sleep together or in the same room. Give them each their own space. Room in your house may be a challenge but there are ways to “divide” a room so that each area can reflect the personality of the occupant.
-DON’T insist they be in the same classroom because they are multiples. When possible, let them develop without them always being under their co-multiple’s eye.
-DON’T dress them alike each day for school. This is not only hard on teachers having to use their names and correctly tell them apart, but it is confusing for peers too. Not everyone appreciates your children dressed alike.
-DON’T insist that each be invited to the same parties. This can cause problems for any multiple not originally invited. Allow each to branch out, have their own friends and then do something special with the one not invited.
-DON’T force them to be in the same sports or after school activities. Allow each to shine on their own merits.  Yes it means you drive to only one place, but it also can negatively effect your multiples over the long run.
No studies have been put in place to see if any of these ideas would help support SC get through their loss experience later in life, but I wonder if it would be worth a try to see if encouraging and supporting individuality within our multiples would help over the long run. We CANNOT get caught up at the front end of our children’s lives with items that “make parents happy (such as dressing them alike all the time or giving them rhyming names),” when at the end of their lives they will need to face their permanent separation with no tools in their toolbox to cope. There is a good chance that we may not be around to help our survivor cope with the magnitude of their loss so it stands to reason that parents need to look at outfitting their multiples from birth for the time when they will eventually have to stand alone. Based on this, can we not consider some of the above, and maybe other DON’Ts as well, in order to ensure that our survivors have the best chance possible of not choosing the idea of killing themselves in order to be with their co-multiple???
For more in depth information on Survivors of Multiple Births, please see my Web Site at
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Posted on November 30, 2017. Filed under: raising multiples, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Our children present us with many opportunities to take photos to mark special occasions, achievements or just because they are so darn cute!  And we, as their parents, love to take their photos.  There is something important to keep in mind though, when taking photos of our multiples, especially if they look a lot alike.

Our local multiple-birth support association once had monozygotic (identical) adult women come and speak to us.  The ladies were about 35 years old at the time.  They brought a photo of them when they were about 4 years old.  They were dressed identically, hair done the same and posed mirror-image across from each other on a bench.  It was a beautiful photo.  One of the women took the over-sized picture and tossed it on the table in front of them saying, “We don’t which one is which!”  All of their family photos (there were several other children in the family) involved them being front and centre, identically dressed but none of the photos were named.  Both of them felt angry, hurt, depressed and resentful that their parents could not remember which was which and also had taken the trouble to mark the photos so that they would have the right photos of themselves when they were young.  Further, they were consistently placed from and centre of family gatherings over their siblings, who then resented and blamed them for being shoved to the background.  The siblings felt marginalized by their sisters, even though the sisters had no say in their photo placements.  These photo sessions were lose/lose all around.

All this to say, we all love to have, share and recognize ourselves in family photo albums.  Such pictures are our right of passage and it is a joy to look back on our personal journeys and milestones.  What isn’t right to have to guess which one is the “Real Me.”  Parents can make sure that our children each have pictures of themselves as youngsters (and beyond) to cherish and to share with future partners and the children they will have.   Here are some imperatives:

  1.  Don’t always have your multiples dressed alike in photos.  This will help make sure you can properly identify who is whom.
  2. Mark the back of each photo as soon as you get the hard copy.  Our memories fail over time and we will not necessarily remember who is on the left or right.
  3. Do not continually place your multiples in positions that minimize the prominence of your other children.  EACH child is important and deserves center stage at some points.  To do so makes your other children resentful of their multiple-birth siblings even though the multiples have no input into their placement in family photos.  The multiples get to pay the price with their siblings of their parents’ choices.
  4. The inability to identify oneself in family photos may seem innocuous to the parents, but it is important to us all to be able to see ourselves in photos without having to question:  Which one is me? and knowing their will never be an honest answer.




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