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)
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

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs