What Not To Say To Parents Of Twins

“Did you do IVF?”

“You had a C-section, right?”

“Are they natural?”

Questions that may seem odd—even offensive — to some new mothers. Unless you are the mother of twins. Then you’re used to them.

The “babyrazzi” can be relentless, and the appearance of multiples in public can create an instantaneous barrage of questions. Earlier this year, I was in line at the Mothers of Twins sale (a huge biannual event in Winchester that is akin to the running of the bulls) comparing notes with other moms. Some of the more seasoned moms were used to the forward questioning, while the rest of us were still adjusting to the public’s keen interest in our multiples and our pregnancies.

Here’s my favorite. Upon seeing my boy and girl twins, “Are they identical?”

So when the hilarious cartoon above appeared in my Facebook feed on Mother’s Day, I didn’t mind the peering grandmothers at Costco later that afternoon. It captures just about every inquiry I’ve ever received and somehow it was validating to know that I’m not alone. I must say, all in all it’s a pretty special club.

Readers, any other cringe-worthy twin questions or comments you’d like to share?  

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  • Laurie

    I have 19 year old identical twin boys who were born before and after midnight so have different birthdays. My favorite silly question ever was from someone who heard about the different dates and asked “how can they be twins if they don’t have the same birthday?” To which I answered, “It’s complicated” and walked away.

  • Jess Jonas

    I have this conversation so often it is ridiculous.

  • MelissaJane

    A friend with b/g twins was once asked if they were twins, and when told yes, asked how old they were. When she answered “2 1/2″, the questioner said, confused, “They’re BOTH 2 1/2?” Well, yes, said Mina, what with being twins and all. And the woman began arguing with her that they couldn’t be the same age.

  • MelissaJane

    Unless they’re identical, the fandom dies down around a year. If they are identical, it never does. My favorite jaw-dropping question–asked when I had my 6-month-old boys at Costco, as I remember–was “Which one is the evil one?”

  • squeaky brakes

    i always said i think twins would be great… wish I had twins…twins run in the family..and try to put a positive spin on it…hope that never offended any one..
    it wasnt intentional…

  • Max Criollo

    When people find out I have a twin sister (I’m male) and ask if we’re identical, I pause, look ‘em right in the eye, and say, “Actually, we’re dizygotic.” That shuts ‘em right up (and they run to consult their dictionary).

  • anon

    My personal favorite was, while I was walking my infants in their stroller, “I bet you had your tubes tied after that, huh?” hoo boy.

  • futbolczarina

    As a parent with naturally occurring triplets, I had three quick comebacks to the intrusive question of “how did this happen?”
    1. Scientific explanation of how triplets are conceived naturally. (yawn)
    2. “God has a sense of humor.” (laugh)
    3. “Missionary position”…(always made the inquisitive busy-body very uncomfortable).

    • momma

      Thank you! I was asked once “Did you have sex 3 days in a row?” I wanted to reply (even though it was not the truth) yes, are you jealous?”

  • Lawrence

    My mother was a twin. She and my aunt always got questions, some dumb, but she never bitched about it. And she was never even annoyed.

    Is our society becoming too sensitive, too bitchy?

    • futbolczarina

      My dad was also a twin. It gave me great insight. As a result of his experiences, we chose to raise our trio very independently in lieu of the ‘package deal’ mentality.

  • Cathy Corman

    When my now twenty-year-old triplets were infants, and I was walking them in my neighborhood, a car braked in the middle of an intersection. Passenger rolled down her window. “FOUR?” she yelled.

    I couldn’t stop laughing. Bad enough to get stopped, but could the rude person at least COUNT???

  • http://www.facebook.com/renee.r.teague ReNe’e Richey Teague

    People are stupid…my first two daughters are 18 months apart and because they were in a double stroller people routinely asked me if they were twins. One sitting up in ponytails and the other 10 pounds in baby ball in the back…stupid.

    • Sam Walworth

      We have 2 girls who are around 20 months apart, and we get always the question, if they are twins, my usual reply is “I wish, actually they are 20 months apart”

      More over, the funniest part is that, their teachers, friends and everyone in general get confused between them, and people say, they look so alike.

    • Barb G.

      That is exactly what happened to me, my girls are 21 months apart and looked so different from each other. It was enough to have them in a double stroller or both in plaid blouses, everybody would make twin remarks. (And I always wanted twins). There are many stupid people out there, my daughter looked terrible in pink, but blue was and is her color, people got offended when I sweetly replied that ‘he’ was actually a girls.

  • tired mom

    I’ve been asked all of these questions. A good response is that I got mine at a “buy one get one free” sale.

    • twinmama

      It actually bugs me how often I am told that I got two for the price of one. They’re awesome, but it was more like two for the price of five!

  • http://nomnivores.wordpress.com/ David in Toronto

    Which one is the smart one?

    In front of the children: How do you manage? I’d give one away or kill myself.

    Do they have that twin thing?

    Really, most twins could go on and on.

    • Kate Evelyn

      As an identical twin, I heard all of these asked in front of me and more… I really could go on and on! “Which one is the bad twin?” (Yes, really, and the person wasn’t joking). “Oh, you’re identical, but how come this one is the fatter one?” (For the record we’re both thin). “If you’re identical, how come you like different foods?” What’s most frustrating was when my parents would talk about how having twins was so much harder than and took so much more of a toll than having one baby–and I’m sure it was, but did that really need to be said in front of preschool age kids?
      But, having a twin is pretty awesome, even if we’re very much opposite in personality. She’s my best friend.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.r.moore Lisa Ruben Moore

    You forgot the “You’re so lucky! You only had to be pregnant once to get two babies!” Yeah, my stretch marks don’t agree.

  • johnson23

    Women should expect the IVF question since that is the most likely explanation…especially when the women are older. And should women who had twins through IVF be allowed to be indignant when the question is asked? No.

    • JJB65

      I think people are “allowed” to be indignant about whatever they please, actually. And just because a women did indeed have IVF, does not mean that that’s anyone else’s business, or that she’s obligated to confirm/discuss it with strangers.

    • Notable Skeptic

      johnson23, can you fill us in on your gender? We have some super interesting personal medical questions to ask you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pseudoprime Jon Grantham

      Women with singletons should expect to be asked about the missionary position, because that’s the most likely explanation. And if the child was conceived that way, they’re not allowed to be indignant — is that how this works?

    • nowayjose

      HIPPA would disagree with you.

    • momma

      Wow. We didn’t use IVF if you must know, but I have friends who have. I can tell you though what they went though and the emotional roller coaster to concieve a child when the rest of the world can (or in my case more than one) with not much effort. Is one of the most heartbreaking things to see a friend go though, somehow that thier bodies do not work and they still feel responsiable. YES, yes they should be allowed any emotion they want after going though years of heartache. It is no ones business to question them about it either.
      Btw, that has to be my most asked question. If you must know we found out in the ER. When I went in to have another type of emergancy surgury done. I had not even known that I was in my first trimester.

  • Mother of twins

    I was volunteering at a local Bingo game when my identical twins came in to get some snack money. Several of the Bingo ladies commented on how cute they were and how much they looked alike. One asked me if they were twins and after I replied, “yes,” another of the ladies asked if they were both mine.

  • Mom of identical boys

    My personal favorite, “are they identical or biological?”

    • http://twitter.com/edantes Edmond Dantès

      It is a fair question, android bodies are just around the corner.

  • Cat

    Yeah, never ask a pregnant lady if she’s having twins just because she “looks huge”…It is far more likely that she’s just near her due date with a single. And the followup of “wow, but you sure are huge” does not usually go over well.