How to Approach a Parent of Twins

By Diane Johnson

You know when you run to the store and bring your twins along with you how people start coming out of the woodwork to ask all the regular questions, “Oh, twins? Boy, girl? Identical?” Then they usually follow up the question with some sort of comment that leaves your mouth agape. Well, I’ve always dreamed of handing out a “How to Approach a Parent of Twins” flyer. I never had the nerve to hand out the flyer, but in my dream world, this step-by-step sheet would be handed to every person as they reach the age of 18. Ideally, it would be a required sheet for graduation. They would be tested on how to approach parents of twins. My dream flyer would go something like this:

How to Approach a Parent of Twins

With the rapid increase in twin births, it’s safe to say that at some point you are going to run into a parent of twins (if you’re not one yourself). Here is the best way to approach a parent of twins (POT).

The first step is to take a close look at the parent with the joyful bundles. If the parent is not smiling and one or more bundle is crying, chances are good the trip is absolutely necessary and the parent is focused on completing the errand as quickly as possible. This is not a good time to stop and carry on a full conversation. If you can’t pass up getting a peek, try to do so in a way that helps the parent, such as opening the door. If the parent is smiling or seems calm and unrushed, proceed to the next step.

The next step is to look closely at the bundles of joy before beginning the question phase. This is imperative if you want to avoid any sarcasm. Asking if they are twins is okay — hey, you never know if the parent is watching someone else’s baby or not. However, it’s safe to say that if they’re dressed alike, they’re twins. Asking gender is fine if the babes are not decked out in gender-specific clothing or wearing items emblazoned with “Daddy’s girl” or “Wonder Boy.” Asking if same-sex (and that’s key — same-sex) babies are identical is fine. Asking if boy/girl twins are identical will cause the POTs to wonder if you passed biology. Once you receive an answer on identical/fraternal, it’s important to note: do not argue with the parent. Trust that they know their twins.

Step three is to notice whether or not there are any older siblings. POTs get pretty irritated when one of their singleton children is ignored. If you see another child, do not ignore him or her while gushing over the twins. Make a nice comment such as, “Wow, I bet you are an awesome big brother.” The POTs will be happy.

Step four is to bite your tongue. Refrain from asking if the parent did fertility treatments. You may get a nasty inquiry as to whether or not you’ve visited your proctologist lately. Also refrain from the “my brother’s, wife’s, sister’s, neighbor’s, best friend’s, daughter lives next to twins.” POTs never know how to address these statements, but choose to listen in the off chance you may have inside information on how to contact Mary Poppins. A few other comments to bite your tongue on: “Glad it’s you and not me.” Twins are not a disease. “How do you do it?” Well, we couldn’t very well tell the doctor to put one back, so we did the next best thing, we chose to live by Nike’s motto and just do it.

Finally, make sure that you finish on a high note. A pleasant comment, like “You have great kids,” “What a lovely family you have,” or “You are so blessed,” is always welcome.

Side note: If at any time one or both of the babies starts to fuss, cut the conversation short and move aside. The POT has only a few moments before the angels sprout horns and full chaos ensues.