Ask Rene: Double Trouble

twin girls

Dear Rene:

I have beautiful identical twin daughters, Celine and Celia who are turning 16 years old in a few months. When they were born, I loved dressing them up in exactly the same outfits from head to toe. It was virtually impossible to tell them apart! Friends, teachers and even family had a hard time telling one from the other. The girls spent most of the time correcting people who mixed them up and they loved it. I was the only one who knew who was Celine and who was Celia.

Not only do they dress alike, they spend a lot of time doing the same things together. You rarely see one without the other.

The girls continue to dress exactly alike as they’ve gotten older and still enjoy “fooling” people who can’t tell them apart. But now I’m worried that people won’t get to know them as individuals. I’ve tried to encourage them to dress differently and find different interests. But they are reluctant to.

Celine and Celia will be going into high school soon and I think it’s time they started establishing their own style and a way for people to tell them apart.

Rene, how can I get my identical twin girls to dress different from each other and feel comfortable doing things apart?

Signed,

Claire, Tampa

Hi Claire:

Thanks so much for writing. People seek me out based on my common sense approach on some of life’s big issues and I feel honored that you would ask me to help you. It actually sounds (to my Good Enough Mother ear) like you’re asking two questions here, one about Celine and Celia dressing alike and the other about them spending all their time together. So here’s what I see:

I WOULD PROBABLY HAVE COOLED IT ON THE DRESSING ALIKE: I’m not a mother of multiples but from what I have read, some parents dress their kids alike for the sake of convenience more than anything else. Hey, you know where I stand on that! The danger comes when they are still forced to dress alike, even after they develop their own styles and personalities. I’ve always been a big believer in letting kids pick their own clothes; in fact as soon as mine were old enough to toddle over to the dresser, I let them pretty much wear what they wanted, provided it was age and weather appropriate.

Kids have so few opportunities to make decisions that impact their own lives, clothing seems like a pretty innocuous one, within the proper parameters. If, at this age Celine and Celia are dressing alike because they like it and feel comfortable doing it, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. That will probably change eventually. Besides, have you ever  gone to a cocktail party only to run into someone wearing your same frock?

SPENDING ALL THEIR TIME TOGETHER: This one seems a bit trickier to this common sense mom. If the girls are hanging out together but also cultivating friendships with others, well, that sounds like the makings of a healthy, well adjusted childhood. But if they are not interested in making friends at all, I sense a problem.

I get that twins, more so than other siblings, share a special bond, having been in those tight quarters for a time of intense growth and development. But as they navigate the path from adolescence to adulthood, Celine and Celia are going to need to learn to how to communicate and make friends with other people as their social circle widens. I would be concerned if they are not doing that. So the question is how can you help? I think talking to them is a good place to start. Find out where their heads are and try to assess whether there are things they need to work through with the help of a professional therapist. Barring that, I would urge them to pursue individual interests, like sports and music and anything else that might help widen their worlds.

I think it’s important for you, mom, not to make them feel like anything is wrong. I doubt that there’s anything abnormal about them and the stage they’re going through but if their normal is not optimal, then you might want to step in and steer Celine and Celia in the way that will be best for them in the long run.

Good luck!

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Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com. When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

4 Comments

  1. Sheila

    May 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I have twin 18 year old twin daughters but they aren’t identical. Initially I dressed them alike but once they started pre-school I stopped. I might buy the same outfit but in different colors. When they started middle school and really began to develop their own style, my hand was pretty much out of the clothing choices. My only job was to make sure jeans weren’t too tight, shirts weren’t too low and skirts weren’t too high.

    I think it’s really important that twins have an opportunity to have their own identities but what some people don’t understand is that your twin is an important part of your identity especially when you’re really close and do everything together, just like Celine and Celia and my daughters all do.

    They take pride in the fact that they are unique and different so I feel it should be fine with the rest of the world if it’s fine with them.

    We always want to find a reason to pull people apart. There’s nothing wrong with their bond especially when it comes to wanting to dress alike.

    Every blue moon my daughters dress alike but usually it’s by accident. LOL

  2. m.e. Johnson

    May 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I’ve read about twins who have done everything together all their lives, married brothers, lived next door to each other, even had babies on the same day. Why must they be what you want? They will be who they will be.

    Therapy? Why does the least thing require ‘therapy’? Therapy suggests a mental problem. Yes it does. And it’s a mark against you forever. Especially nowadays (hackers, etc.)

    Don’t want to scare you Mom but most likely young men will get them to ‘change’ easier/quicker than you will.

  3. Tiffany

    May 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Honestly, I’d just let them be who they will be. If they have trouble making friends or doing other normal activities, then get involved. Otherwise, why take away their awesome built-in friend who happens to look exactly like them?

    Additionally, she doesn’t need to be told what she “should have” done with her daughters (eg, not dressing them alike a long time ago). Give her advice that she can use now.

  4. Angela

    May 11, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I have two sets of twins. Boy/Girl Fraternal twins and Identical Twin Girls. My girls are currently 4 years old. I have never dressed them the same. From the beginning I wanted to help their individuality. It helped other’s identify them too. On occasion they have the same clothes but in different colours but this is often out of convenience with me buying them. They choose what they want to wear from their wardrobe even at 4 years of age and they always select different things. They spend all their time together and sometimes this goes smoothly and other times it does not.

    I think you can only encourage them in their endeavours and don’t make an issue out of the relationship they have. It is a good bond that has been built up over the years. Perhaps you could try having a mother/daughter shopping outing separately with each daughter and so they may choose an outfit without the influence of the other twin. It could be fun!

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