Twins: Protecting your twins from gawkers

I am a mother of toddler twins. I am upset with the way strangers gawk, ask questions and in general, intrude on my children as if they are "freaks.” What can I do to stop the intrusion?


Gayle Peterson

Gayle Peterson, PhD, is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She is a clinical member of the Association... Read more

The fascination with twins is rooted in our psychological fantasy of having more than one of ourselves in the world. The experience of seeing a real set of twins may even stimulate a wish for our own imaginary clone. Naturally, this is not what real twins are about. And so, reality and fantasy collide.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, but we sometimes forget to respect children's boundaries in the same way we would an adult. Children are people, too. They deserve respect and consideration equal, not less, than any adult. We could all use greater consciousness about our affect on children, when taking license to comment, gawk, touch or in any other way force our interaction upon them.

  • Stop intrusive touching when it occurs. Ask strangers to maintain appropriate distance, even if you have to say, "Please do not touch my child.”
  • Set limits. Let others know when you feel uncomfortable. Remember, they are the ones being intrusive!
  • Talk with your children. Help your children learn about boundaries and how to maintain their privacy, as they grow.

Multiple children pose their own unique challenges to parents. Everything from financial to emotional resources are tapped at a compounded rate. The early years of parenting multiples are particularly stressful. But as with all things, the years have a way of teaching lessons of cooperation and balance is achieved over time. Parents of multiples quickly learn to recognize the differences in their children and are well aware that looks are only skin deep. No wonder they tire of repeated commentary by strangers, which becomes intrusive rather than friendly.

Parents of multiples are not alone in their frustration. Families with adopted children of different races or any parent with a bi-racial child, for example, go through the same recurrent commentary when out in public. Are these your children? Are they adopted or biological? Anyone who falls a bit out of the "norm" in our culture is fair game.

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