News / Health

Same but Different: Twins Face Double Challenges

Psychotherapist and auther Joan Friedman (left) says when she and her twin sister Jane were growing up, they were treated like stars. (Courtesy Joan Friedman)
Psychotherapist and auther Joan Friedman (left) says when she and her twin sister Jane were growing up, they were treated like stars. (Courtesy Joan Friedman)
Faiza Elmasry
Joan Friedman understands why being a twin can often be a blessing and a curse at the same time.

The psychotherapist, who specializes in twin issues, is a twin herself and the mother of fraternal twins.

While it’s wonderful to have such a close friend in life, she says, most adult twins struggle to learn how to face life as singletons.

Star attraction

When Friedman and her identical twin sister, Jane, were growing up half a century ago, there were few twins around.

“We were such stars and got a lot of attention," Friedman said. "People always knew we were the Friedman twins. But then we got older and you wanted to have your own identity. People really didn’t know who we were. It was, in a sense, like being noticed but not being known.”

Like many twins back then and even today, Joan and Jane dressed alike and were always together.

Psychotherapist and auther Joan Friedman with her twin sons, Jonny and David. (Courtesy Joan Friedman)Psychotherapist and auther Joan Friedman with her twin sons, Jonny and David. (Courtesy Joan Friedman)
x
Psychotherapist and auther Joan Friedman with her twin sons, Jonny and David. (Courtesy Joan Friedman)
Psychotherapist and auther Joan Friedman with her twin sons, Jonny and David. (Courtesy Joan Friedman)
“The first time Jane and I were separated was when we went to college," Friedman said. "It was an incredibly difficult adjustment. All of a sudden you find yourself sort of as a very unprepared singleton.”

Due to advancements in infertility treatments, Friedman says, the number of twins has grown.

“Today, I think the latest statistics show that one out of every 33 births is a twin birth," she said. "I think in like the 1980s, it was one out of 90 births.”

And, she says, twins are often still treated as two halves of a whole, rather than as separate individuals.

“People just project a lot of their own concerns. [They think that if you] separate twins, you’re breaking that twin connection, you’re going to interfere with their loving one another," she said. "I find this often happens across cultures. If you give them experiences where they learn to be on their own, where they learn to rely on themselves, they develop a resilience so they can feel they can be their own persons. If not, then they develop this overdependence, or really a co-dependence, because they've never been without each another.”

Different personalities

Twenty-two-year old Nazy Farkhondeh and her twin sister, Ranah, have always been inseparable best friends.

They went to the same school, had the same friends. Though they applied to different colleges, they ended up rooming together at the University of Michigan and graduated with the same major. Now, they both live in Los Angeles, California.

“The most fun part is probably just having a companion you can count on," Nazy said. "The most challenging part is the feeling that everything is a shared experience, when you want to have your own experience.”

Farkhondeh also says people perceive twins as the same person, while in fact they are very different.

“Our styles are completely different. She’s more of a girly-girl. She likes to do her make-up. She likes to do her hair, when she goes out," Nazy said. "I’m more casual. I don’t wear any makeup and I never do my hair. I’m more into literature and she’s more into music. Even growing up, I’ve been always a little bit more outgoing, she was the shyer one.”

Like most siblings, twins often disagree with one another.

“It's really funny as I actually see a huge irony in disagreeing with your twin," Nazy said. "Because on one hand, you appreciate it because it’s a way you differentiate yourself from them. But on the other hand, it’s kind of irritating because it’s like someone who is really, really, really close to you disagreeing with you. So in that sense, it kind of burns more.”

Twin boys process their differences differently than twin girls, says psychotherapist Friedman.

“Identical twin girls have the closest relationships just because girls tend to need and find more intimacy with one another," she said. "Identical twin girls really do try to keep the competition under wraps, whereas boys will be able to express their feelings or their hostility in a more open way.”

Raising independent twins

In her new book, The Same But Different: How Twins Can Live, Love and Learn to Be Individuals, Friedman offers this advice for raising independent twins.

“I have certain things that I always tell parents, which is, of course, not to dress them alike, not to give them alliterative names like Tom and Tony, Natalie and Nancy," she said. "Give them different names. Make sure you take separate pictures of each twin. If they grow up and never see a picture of themselves by themselves, it’s very difficult for them to think of themselves as separate. And alone time is really what I feel is the most [important]; if you take one to the grocery store, take the other one to the park, which gives you a sense of connection with both babies.”

Reinforcing different personalities and nurturing different temperaments, Friedman says, is key to raising happy, close twins who have their own, individual goals and paths in life.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: doomrabbit from: Iraq
February 17, 2014 10:45 AM
i have been told i have a three Twins but i don't meet any one yet


by: Ashlee
February 12, 2014 6:04 PM
Can this article be published in an Australian newsletter? We would acknowledge the source.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid