Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Knitterly on December 05, 2013, 08:37:32 AM

Title: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Knitterly on December 05, 2013, 08:37:32 AM
Today's Dear Abby has an interesting situation.
http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20131205

To sum up, the writer has four children, including a set of twins.  Gifts are give to the two older children individually, but one gift is given to the twins to share.  The most egregious example given was one t-shirt for the twins to share.

The writer wants to know how she can encourage family to give each twin their own separate gift as they are as individual as her older two children.

Abby's response was that it's not greedy to tell them that if they cannot afford to give each child a gift, it would be better to give nothing at all.  But I could see this not actually working, since clearly the gift givers see the twins as one person.

Thoughts?

How would one phrase such a request?
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: 123sandy on December 05, 2013, 08:56:10 AM
I could maybe see giving them a game or such like to share, but a tee-shirt?!?!

I'm not sure what I'd do in the same situation, I'd like to think I could be up front to my family though. My youngest brothers birthday is the 29th of December and oftener than not he was told gifts were for Christmas and his birthday too... :(
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Cz. Burrito on December 05, 2013, 08:56:34 AM
I can't think of a good way to phrase such a request.  I think I would be inclined to just request no gifts for the kids because that's an easier request to phrase.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Julsie on December 05, 2013, 09:03:45 AM
One t-shirt??  Who does that??

I can see when the twins are babies/toddlers them being given a big toy to share... a play kitchen or a bucket of Legos.  I can also see how as they get older that might start to bother them, since they might like to be seen as individuals.

But one shirt??
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: cabbagegirl28 on December 05, 2013, 09:04:50 AM
Today's Dear Abby has an interesting situation.
http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20131205

To sum up, the writer has four children, including a set of twins.  Gifts are give to the two older children individually, but one gift is given to the twins to share.  The most egregious example given was one t-shirt for the twins to share.

The writer wants to know how she can encourage family to give each twin their own separate gift as they are as individual as her older two children.

Abby's response was that it's not greedy to tell them that if they cannot afford to give each child a gift, it would be better to give nothing at all.  But I could see this not actually working, since clearly the gift givers see the twins as one person.

Thoughts?

How would one phrase such a request?

As someone who is a twin, I would say, "I understand that it's easy to think of Sally and Molly (making up names) as one unit because they were born to the same mom at the same time. However, they are separate people, and if you can't respect that by getting them separate gifts, don't give them gifts at all."

Luckily, nobody was ever that thoughtless to me and violinp. I would be okay with even a shared board game, because at least we can play the game together. But by about 6 or so, violinp and I had our own verrrry different personalities, and if someone had pulled that on us for long, one of us would have ended up hating the gift.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: metallicafan on December 05, 2013, 09:26:05 AM
I really don't understand why twins would not each get a gift. One tee shirt? Really?
DH is godfather to one of a pair of twins, and we buy each girl a gift. 
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 05, 2013, 09:34:01 AM
This is so odd. I've never heard of twins having to share a present like this. Maybe if they didn't have siblings who were receiving an individual gifts I could imagine an aunt giving a game to the boys to play together. But clothes?

I'd talk with the relatives who routinely do this. Maybe they feel they are spending $15 each on the other siblings but are buying a combined gift for the twins that is $30 so it's ok. But I think routinely doing that would still cause hurt feelings.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Pen^2 on December 05, 2013, 09:49:12 AM
I've known several siblings who've had similar things happen to them. It's thoughtless, I think, to treat someone as not a whole person, but as only part of one.

But it's such a basic thing (A and B are two people and should be thought of and treated as two people, not one), so it's hard to phrase without pointing out how rude the person has been being. Or, if they haven't done anything yet, it could sound accusatory when they were actually going to behave reasonably. I knew one pair of siblings who simply held separate birthday parties, as other siblings born close together might do, so it was implied that you'd bring a gift to each party for each kid. It would be kind of odd to only bring a gift to one, I guess. If the birthday was on a Wednesday, then one party would be on the preceeding weekend, and one on the following. This would work well with siblings who have very different personalities and wanted different parties (e.g. a princess sparkle party and a death metal party). The notion that twins should have the same party strikes me as odd when a family would have two separate parties if two other siblings happened to have the same birthday but were several years apart. But it wouldn't be feasible anyway for quads or anything--too many weekends.

I honestly can't think of any way to phrase a request that two people be treated like two people that doesn't sound passive-aggressive.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: MindsEye on December 05, 2013, 09:52:38 AM
I will admit that there are twins in my family, and I have been guilty of doing the "two-fer" present...  but it has always been things that they can use together or are made for sharing... board games, soccer set (ball, goal boxes, line markers), matchbox racing set, big box of dress-up costumes... stuff like that.  I suppose that I belong in ePurgatory for that.   But I would never have given them a single shirt or stuffed animal or whatever and told them to just share... 

Maybe the letter writer can request a big family gift, something all of the kids can share and use, and not individual presents anymore?
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 05, 2013, 10:06:35 AM
When there is more then one kid I like to give a gift all the kids can share. Harder as they get older, but a board game for all four, or legos, or some art supplies. Something all the kids can play with. Then a smaller individual gift for each kid.

I think she could start mentioning how much Tom loves trains, and Tim is so into robots! I think people are seeing them as one unit, rather then two separate people. Start pointing out their differences. If someone asks what they kids want say "Well Jane is really into One Direction, and John is into skateboarding big time. Tom recently went to a train museum and just fell in to love with all the trains! I think he wants to be conductor, and you know Tim, that kid can't get enough of his robots!", no referring to the "the twins". They're separate.

I don't think it's rude to point out that all four kids have very different tastes and likes and dislikes. I'd also say something like "We know when Tim and Tom were younger it was easy to buy them a gift to share, but now that they're older they're really noticing they have to share everything while their older siblings get individualized gifts, it's causing some hurt feelings".

And a t-shirt?! One twin gets in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the other Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and we rotate Sundays? Was that the plan?

*note: naming twins Tim and Tom is not recommend, typing this post was very difficult*
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: heartmug on December 05, 2013, 10:33:24 AM
I do think she should speak up and ask that each child be treated as an individual, because they are, and a smaller present for each would be better.

My cousin had to ask her mom not to buy her twins matchy shirts every.single.year.  Both she and they were tired of it.  Luckily her and her mom are close and she took it well.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: shadowfox79 on December 05, 2013, 10:38:48 AM
I'd be inclined to give that relative one T-shirt between her and her husband. What's that line about being "of one flesh"...?

Honestly, who does that? I had friends who were twins and were sick and tired of getting identical presents when it wasn't appropriate, but I've never known anyone give one item of clothing between them. Twins aren't necessarily the same size, for one thing - if one's an 8 and one's a 10 that makes it a present for just one of them.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: nayberry on December 05, 2013, 10:55:55 AM
if that was a gift to my fututre children and it was one item of clothing between two, i'd return it tot he sender with a polite note that there seems to ahve been a mixup with the childrens presents....
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: mime on December 05, 2013, 11:22:19 AM
"Dear Auntie,
  Thank you so much for the T-shirt. The dinosaur picture on the front is so cool! We have already cut it in half so we can both use it. We'll have to flip a coin tonight to see who gets the front half with the left sleeve and who gets the back half with the right sleeve.
  Sincerely, Tommy and Timmy"

 :-\
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: TootsNYC on December 05, 2013, 11:23:20 AM

Abby's response was that it's not greedy to tell them that if they cannot afford to give each child a gift, it would be better to give nothing at all.  But I could see this not actually working, since clearly the gift givers see the twins as one person.

Thoughts?

How would one phrase such a request?

I agree with you, that's not really going to work, because it doesn't address the problem.

I think what one does is address the problem: as Knitterly words it, "clearly [they] see the twins as one person."

So you say, a little later, "Uncle Joe and Aunt Frieda, I noticed that you gave both boys a single T-shirt. I need to let you know, that hurt their feelings a lot. They are two separate boys, and when you give them a gift that only one of them can use at a time, they feel really devalued. This is often a problem for twins, and I need to ask your help, that you treat them not as 'the twins' but as Steve and Sam. Especially with gifts, it gets really, really clear that they are invisible to people--but even with conversation, let's all get in the habit of never saying 'and the twins,' but instead saying 'Steve and Sam.' "

I also think that the parents and the close family member who *do* get it should conspire to consciously and carefully never lump the twins together. They should work to banish "the twins" from their vocabulary as a phrase; whenever other people say, "and the twins can sit here," they should say, "You mean Sam and Steve? Sure, we can put Sam and Steve here." (and maybe also encourage them to not do everything together--seat them at different ends of the table now and then; send Steve to the grocery store with Aunt Frieda and ask Sam to do something else)

It's time for those people in the family who *do* get it to start modeling the proper way to deal with Sam and Steve. As "Sam" and as "Steve," and not ever as "the twins."

It's not about the cheapness of money; it's about the mindset--and it would always be seen as polite if Mom and the relative who *do* get it start to say, "You are hurting the boys' feelings when you don't see them as two individual, real, separate people."

Also, someone who is not the boys' mom (like a close aunt) can say things that are pretty strong, "Really, Uncle Joe? You gave two boys a single T-shirt? What are you thinking? That's really hurtful!"
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: turtleIScream on December 05, 2013, 12:29:01 PM

Abby's response was that it's not greedy to tell them that if they cannot afford to give each child a gift, it would be better to give nothing at all.  But I could see this not actually working, since clearly the gift givers see the twins as one person.

Thoughts?

How would one phrase such a request?

I agree with you, that's not really going to work, because it doesn't address the problem.

I think what one does is address the problem: as Knitterly words it, "clearly [they] see the twins as one person."

So you say, a little later, "Uncle Joe and Aunt Frieda, I noticed that you gave both boys a single T-shirt. I need to let you know, that hurt their feelings a lot. They are two separate boys, and when you give them a gift that only one of them can use at a time, they feel really devalued. This is often a problem for twins, and I need to ask your help, that you treat them not as 'the twins' but as Steve and Sam. Especially with gifts, it gets really, really clear that they are invisible to people--but even with conversation, let's all get in the habit of never saying 'and the twins,' but instead saying 'Steve and Sam.' "

I also think that the parents and the close family member who *do* get it should conspire to consciously and carefully never lump the twins together. They should work to banish "the twins" from their vocabulary as a phrase; whenever other people say, "and the twins can sit here," they should say, "You mean Sam and Steve? Sure, we can put Sam and Steve here." (and maybe also encourage them to not do everything together--seat them at different ends of the table now and then; send Steve to the grocery store with Aunt Frieda and ask Sam to do something else)

It's time for those people in the family who *do* get it to start modeling the proper way to deal with Sam and Steve. As "Sam" and as "Steve," and not ever as "the twins."

It's not about the cheapness of money; it's about the mindset--and it would always be seen as polite if Mom and the relative who *do* get it start to say, "You are hurting the boys' feelings when you don't see them as two individual, real, separate people."

Also, someone who is not the boys' mom (like a close aunt) can say things that are pretty strong, "Really, Uncle Joe? You gave two boys a single T-shirt? What are you thinking? That's really hurtful!"

This, exactly.

I am a twin, and my parents were very intentional in helping my sister and I create our own identities.  As it turns out, we are very similar and share many interests, but this approach to gift giving still would not have been okay. This is not really an etiquette question. It is not about the monetary value, or the matching of the gift to interests; many people have to learn to graciously accept gifts that miss the mark. This is about giving a gift that devalues the recipient, and parents are allowed to stand up for their children and say that is not acceptable.

Like Toots said, this attitude needs to be confronted in all interactions with the children, not just at gift giving times. I recently attended a funeral, where I saw my pastor from when I was very small. Our family moved away from that church when I was 6, but I still remember Pastor Howell because he always called my sister and me by our names. To him, we were not the twins, but Turtle and Otter. That effort is noticed and appreciated, and makes a lasting impression.

Funny story - Our grandmothers would buy us matching outfits for Christmas. We had similar taste in clothes, so usually, the clothes themselves were appropriate for either of us, but we never dressed alike. When we were about 8 or 9 years old, the local paper did a story on twins, and we were interviewed. We were asked about dressing alike, and we answered honestly in the way only 9 year olds can. Our only matching clothes came from grandma, and we only wore them for pictures for grandma. Apparently, mom sent a copy of this article to family members, because we never got matching clothes again.

Less funny story, not my proudest moment - I was at the store buying birthday cards. You know how card displays have descriptions of the cards (mother - religious; suitable for step-mom; friend - humor; etc)? I saw one labelled "birthday - twins". Yes a single card intended for two people, and the design and inscription were clearly intended for ages 6-10. I hid all the cards behind the placard, and wrote on it "don't even think about it; they already have to share their birthday and identity; you're going to cheap out and make them share a card too?"
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: TootsNYC on December 05, 2013, 12:31:49 PM

Less funny story, not my proudest moment - I was at the store buying birthday cards. You know how card displays have descriptions of the cards (mother - religious; suitable for step-mom; friend - humor; etc)? I saw one labelled "birthday - twins". Yes a single card intended for two people, and the design and inscription were clearly intended for ages 6-10. I hid all the cards behind the placard, and wrote on it "don't even think about it; they already have to share their birthday and identity; you're going to cheap out and make them share a card too?"

I think that's great! OK, not truly kosher, etc., etc., but I totally understand!!
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: siamesecat2965 on December 05, 2013, 01:08:52 PM
I saw this too and it made me scratch my head. I have a friend with twins, who are now 21!!!  But when I got her a baby gift (she lived in TX, and me in NJ) I forget exactly waht it was, clothes, I think, but I think I got TWO separate and distinct outfits. not matching, but something similar. THe only way I would have gotten one gift for both was if, along with that, I got say a set of books or something of that nature.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: gmatoy on December 05, 2013, 01:44:33 PM
To answer the question of "Who does that?!!," I will say, my MIL and DIL who gave their sons, who are NOT twins, shared gifts every Christmas. They are 15 months apart in age and every year they got one train piece to share. So one year a locomotive, the next year a coal car, etc. To add injury to insult, she won't let them have their train set even today. And my BIL collects them now, I think to salve the pain of having to share as a child.

At least these boys (in the Dear Abby column) have a mother who sees them as separate!
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Roe on December 05, 2013, 02:41:11 PM
They are TWO people so therefore, there should be TWO gifts. Even if you give a gameboard, you should give each one a gameboard if you then turn around and give their two siblings separate gifts. 

If this happened to my child, I would hand the gift back to the giver.  This is not acceptable gift-giving.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Twik on December 05, 2013, 02:43:18 PM
To answer the question of "Who does that?!!," I will say, my MIL and DIL who gave their sons, who are NOT twins, shared gifts every Christmas. They are 15 months apart in age and every year they got one train piece to share. So one year a locomotive, the next year a coal car, etc. To add injury to insult, she won't let them have their train set even today. And my BIL collects them now, I think to salve the pain of having to share as a child.

It sounds like your MIL and DIL are a little unclear as to the concept of "gift". It does not cover buying something, telling the recipient it's for them, but keeping it yourself.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: StoutGirl on December 05, 2013, 03:45:55 PM
I feel bad for the set of twins that had to share the shirt.  I think that it is okay for the mother to speak up.

My Dad is a twin and I'm sure that he and his brother got gifts that had to be shared, but I don't think that it was ever clothes.  I'm sure the same thing happened with my maternal grandmother and her twin sister, toys/games, but not clothes, though it would not surprise me if the sister labeled the items as hers (stories for another time).

If I should have kids or if my sister does and they are twins (twins seem to run in the family) I think that it would be okay to get some gifts, such as a game, to share, but also give individual gifts. 

Also, it was mentioned on here to not name a set of twins Tim and Tom.  At one of our local high schools, there is a set of teachers that are twins named Tim and Tom, and I think that they might teach the same subject. 
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: DoubleTrouble on December 05, 2013, 06:29:06 PM
As a twin & the parent of twins, I'm horrified. The only way this is acceptable is if the gift could be easily shared (like Legos). Honestly, I love Abby's response but if that happened to us I'm afraid I wouldn't be as nice.

Less funny story, not my proudest moment - I was at the store buying birthday cards. You know how card displays have descriptions of the cards (mother - religious; suitable for step-mom; friend - humor; etc)? I saw one labelled "birthday - twins". Yes a single card intended for two people, and the design and inscription were clearly intended for ages 6-10. I hid all the cards behind the placard, and wrote on it "don't even think about it; they already have to share their birthday and identity; you're going to cheap out and make them share a card too?"

I think that's great! OK, not truly kosher, etc., etc., but I totally understand!!

Love that & thank you! I think the only time I've gotten one card for the boys (or myself & my brother) was with baby gifts when no one really cared but we always got two gifts or one gift that could be shared. But these days my boys would be upset not to get a card each.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: *inviteseller on December 05, 2013, 07:00:42 PM
My friend is a twin and she tells stories of the one gift or one card to be shared and how it upset them.  They are 2 peas in a pod and as close as twins can be, but they also have different tastes and hobbies so they found this to be cheap.  She works at a card store and when they got a shipment of cards one day, there was the single card for twins (the one for them to share).  She refused to put it out and sent it back to the company with a note saying those cards were demeaning and hurtful.

On a side note, my DD;s birthdays are 4 days apart and we have had a few people buy them a 'shared' gift.  The problem?  They are 11 years apart!!!  The baby turning one, as brilliant as she is  ::), was not going to be playing the game Trouble and my 11 year old, who loves to read, was a bit advanced for a copy of Goodnight Moon (which she already had).  Thanks cheapo relatives!  And yes, they got nice thank you notes for those gifts while older DD and I kind of chuckled.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: HoneyBee42 on December 05, 2013, 07:53:02 PM
I am a mother of four which includes two singletons (who arrived first and second) and one set of twins.  Perhaps because my twins are a girl/boy set, people haven't really had issues with seeing them as just "the twins".  The one and only time that a gift was given to both of them was at their birthday party in which they received a slip-n-slide (and this one is another thing that is not a problem, along the same lines as other items mentioned that can be used by both--and the value of that is more than I think anyone [neighborhood friends, not family] would have spent on a single child).  That said, if I ever had had a family member give just one item to both of them that is something that would just as likely have been given to one of my older two children, I would return the "gift" and say that just because they happened to be siblings born on the same day in the same year, they *are* separate individuals and deserve to be treated as such.

Now, when I initially was pregnant, long before knowing that I had twins, I had names picked out for a girl and a boy.  They were not names like Robert/Roberta or other sets of practically the same name, just the masculine & feminine version, but distinct names.  Even when I found out that there were twins and that one of them is a girl but we weren't able to find out before birth about the second baby, the second girl's name would sound like a reasonable choice for a sibling, but not overly 'matchy'.  I did have people (strangers in stores type) who would, upon learning the names say "What kind of twin names are those?  You should have named her [his name]a." (So, if I had named him Robert, they thought that I should have named her Roberta instead of Elizabeth.)  I told even those people, though I probably never would cross paths again, that they are not a matched set of china, they are two separate people and besides, I really don't like the name Roberta.  (True enough--the name that I actually did give my daughter is one that I had planned 'if I ever have a daughter' from the time I was 17 and saw the name in a movie's credits--and at that point, I was 35 and *not* going to give up that name just to slap a name that seems like "you're not what I really wanted, but you're an ok consolation prize".   I have known twins with matching names (ironically enough, one set of names I have known sets of twins that were both male and another that are both female--Stacy and Tracy), but I couldn't ever do that to my own children.

As it happens, my daughter (only one in all four children) looks more like my middle son than her twin brother.  While they still look very obviously like siblings, especially now, few people who don't know would guess them to be twins (she is not quite 5'3" and he is 5'10"--they're 12 now).

I do think one gift for "the twins" (especially the single t-shirt!) is different from other sorts of gifts that one doesn't really care for and is more akin to giving a book on the latest fad diet to an overweight person.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Yvaine on December 05, 2013, 07:55:29 PM
To answer the question of "Who does that?!!," I will say, my MIL and DIL who gave their sons, who are NOT twins, shared gifts every Christmas. They are 15 months apart in age and every year they got one train piece to share. So one year a locomotive, the next year a coal car, etc. To add injury to insult, she won't let them have their train set even today. And my BIL collects them now, I think to salve the pain of having to share as a child.

It sounds like your MIL and DIL are a little unclear as to the concept of "gift". It does not cover buying something, telling the recipient it's for them, but keeping it yourself.

Yeah, it seems the parents-in-law gave themselves a train set.   >:(
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: TootsNYC on December 05, 2013, 07:57:51 PM
I'm not even sure I think it's OK to give a pair of twins a shared Lego set!

It's just really rude somehow.

I'd be OK w/ a Lego set for all four kids.
But if you're going to give Singleton1 and Singleton2 their own presents, you'd better be giving Twin1 and Twin2 separate gifts.

And if you obviously halved the expenses of gifts for the twins, I'd be mad too!
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: LifeOnPluto on December 05, 2013, 08:13:48 PM
I like Glitter's idea of emphasising their differences. I think the parents should pre-emptively call or email those relatives who they suspect will give the twins one gift to share, and say something like "If you need ideas for GIFTS (my emphasis) for Tim and Tom, I recommend that Tim loves reading, so any book would be fine. And Tom loves sport, so a football would be excellent for him. And if you were thinking of t-shirts, Tim's favourite colour is blue, whereas Tom loves red." etc.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: sammycat on December 05, 2013, 08:28:04 PM
I'm not even sure I think it's OK to give a pair of twins a shared Lego set!

It's just really rude somehow.

I'd be OK w/ a Lego set for all four kids.
But if you're going to give Singleton1 and Singleton2 their own presents, you'd better be giving Twin1 and Twin2 separate gifts.

And if you obviously halved the expenses of gifts for the twins, I'd be mad too!

I totally agree.

If someone has four singleton kids born at various points throughout the year, gift givers would have to buy 4 separate presents anyway.  If the gift giver spends $20 per child, that's $80.

I still think it's completely unacceptable to spend $20 per non-twin child and $40 on a joint twin present, even though it's still $80. Each child deserves to be treated as an individual and have the $20 spent on them.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: blarg314 on December 05, 2013, 08:54:19 PM
I think what I would do is this year, pre-emptively have the chat with the offenders - "Aunt X, the boys are old enough now that they notice when their siblings each get their own gift, but they have to share a single one. We're trying hard to make sure that they are regarded as individuals, not just "the twins", and it would mean a lot if you could help us with that."

Then, if possible, check the gifts in advance. If they show up again with separate gifts for the singletons, and a single gift for the twins, then the gifts get tucked away and not opened on Christmas, and the request for the *next* year is no gifts.

ie, start with the assumption that it's a thoughtless mistake, and give them a chance to correct it. If they refuse to do so, then stronger measures are taken.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Bluenomi on December 05, 2013, 09:01:21 PM
This is one thing I'm hoping to avoid with my twins though I suspect being boy/girl twins will help with that.

The only things twins should have to share us a uterus and a birthday. They are entitled to their own presents just like all the not twins out there!
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: miranova on December 05, 2013, 09:01:55 PM
I have identical twin stepsons.  Even their grandparents can't always tell them apart, and no one (including us) can tell them apart from the back, unless they are speaking because their voices are just a bit different.  At age 7, they still insist on sleeping in the same bed (even though they have bunks) and do everything together and want matching clothes.  When they were babies, they had their own language that only they could understand.  They are as alike as 2 people can be.  However, even with all of this sameness, I don't think I'd be able to hold back my shock if someone gave them ONE shirt.  It was bad enough when their preschool teachers couldn't remember which one of them had misbehaved or wanted to do a combined parent teacher conference for both of them (I suspect because they just couldn't differentiate or remember who did what) but a joint present that can't possibly be used together would put me over the edge.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: cabbagegirl28 on December 05, 2013, 09:08:22 PM
This is one thing I'm hoping to avoid with my twins though I suspect being boy/girl twins will help with that.

The only things twins should have to share us a uterus and a birthday. They are entitled to their own presents just like all the not twins out there!

Exactly!
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: kareng57 on December 05, 2013, 10:17:42 PM
I will admit that there are twins in my family, and I have been guilty of doing the "two-fer" present...  but it has always been things that they can use together or are made for sharing... board games, soccer set (ball, goal boxes, line markers), matchbox racing set, big box of dress-up costumes... stuff like that.  I suppose that I belong in ePurgatory for that.   But I would never have given them a single shirt or stuffed animal or whatever and told them to just share... 

Maybe the letter writer can request a big family gift, something all of the kids can share and use, and not individual presents anymore?


If you wouldn't give a to-be-shared gift to the other kids in the family - then please, do not give one to the twin siblings.  They are individuals, and - whether or not they have similar tastes - they should not be expected to frequently share the same toys at the same time.  Your reference to "purgatory" seems to be rather P/A.

Of course I'm not talking about something like a board game, where presumably several siblings and/or parents would be using it at the same time.  But if you're giving Martha a doll, Stevie a model airplane, and the twins Timmy and Tommy get a Lego kit to share - uh-uh.  Twins already have to share a birthday and shouldn't be forced to share everything else.  It really doesn't take a lot of mental energy to think of an appropriate gift for each of them - or, at least ask the parents.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 05, 2013, 10:47:07 PM
I have two nephews with birthdays within two weeks of each other, although they're 3 years apart.  Several times for their birthday or Christmas, we've bought them a large LEGO set to share.  It's not because they don't warrant separate presents, it's because a) they like LEGOs, and b) we like LEGOs, so we enjoy giving them, and c) they would never get to get these large sets if it weren't for the possibility of a combined present, because we simply can't justify spending $70 on a birthday gift for one kid.  So we (and they) would be forever trapped with the $30-35 LEGOs.  Which are cool, but if you can look at the $60-70 range *and* know where to find the best deals (which we do), you can get a really great LEGO set, with the caveat that it's a shared present.

So it's definitely something that people sometimes do with non-twins.  In this case, it's because their birthdays are close enough that the present doesn't have to be too far in advance of one birthday or late for another.  There's always Christmas, of course, and I don't remember but we may have done it for Christmas once before.  From what I hear from my parents-in-law (the grandparents), the boys think that we are the coolest because we get them the awesome, out-of-normal-price-range LEGO sets.

I think that shared presents can be okay.  The caveat is that it should be something that can be shared, and it should be appropriate to the interests of both.  And, ideally, it shouldn't be every time, unless you know that they really like it and don't mind sharing.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: TheaterDiva1 on December 05, 2013, 11:13:55 PM
One thing mom with twins can do if talk about each kid's separate interests in conversation. "Jane's really into science these days... Jill loves painting and art!" 
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: scotcat60 on December 06, 2013, 06:09:45 AM
Even when I found out that there were twins and that one of them is a girl but we weren't able to find out before birth about the second baby, the second girl's name would sound like a reasonable choice for a sibling, but not overly 'matchy'

I read of twin girls who were called Amy and May.

As for the rest, all children are individuals, and should be treated so. O.K. so give the same sort of toy car or doll to children in case there is a dispute about "Why has he /she got one and I haven't?" but that is still giving one each and not expecting them to share. Sharing a T-Shirt? What curious thinking.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Yvaine on December 06, 2013, 06:51:18 AM
Even when I found out that there were twins and that one of them is a girl but we weren't able to find out before birth about the second baby, the second girl's name would sound like a reasonable choice for a sibling, but not overly 'matchy'

I read of twin girls who were called Amy and May.

I went to school with a Tanya and Tonya.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Knitterly on December 06, 2013, 07:07:04 AM
I have two nephews with birthdays within two weeks of each other, although they're 3 years apart.  Several times for their birthday or Christmas, we've bought them a large LEGO set to share.  It's not because they don't warrant separate presents, it's because a) they like LEGOs, and b) we like LEGOs, so we enjoy giving them, and c) they would never get to get these large sets if it weren't for the possibility of a combined present, because we simply can't justify spending $70 on a birthday gift for one kid.  So we (and they) would be forever trapped with the $30-35 LEGOs.  Which are cool, but if you can look at the $60-70 range *and* know where to find the best deals (which we do), you can get a really great LEGO set, with the caveat that it's a shared present.

So it's definitely something that people sometimes do with non-twins.  In this case, it's because their birthdays are close enough that the present doesn't have to be too far in advance of one birthday or late for another.  There's always Christmas, of course, and I don't remember but we may have done it for Christmas once before.  From what I hear from my parents-in-law (the grandparents), the boys think that we are the coolest because we get them the awesome, out-of-normal-price-range LEGO sets.

I think that shared presents can be okay.  The caveat is that it should be something that can be shared, and it should be appropriate to the interests of both.  And, ideally, it shouldn't be every time, unless you know that they really like it and don't mind sharing.

I have a multitude of siblings.  Some years, money was quite tight, and our parents would get a shared "family" gift - something like a movie bundle or board game.  This is something truly shareable.

I wonder whether it might be easiest to suggest a group gift for all four children from those who have previously offended.  Something like a movie or a game.  Something that can really truly be shared by ALL the kids.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: FlyingBaconMouse on December 06, 2013, 01:00:53 PM
I'm just so flabbergasted that people do this! Even the branch of my family I sarcastically compare to The Borg treated their twin children like two people! (Two people they didn't really want thinking for themselves very much, but still, two people.)
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: johelenc1 on December 06, 2013, 08:04:39 PM
I have twins and have no problem with gifts that are meant to be shared - like a game, box of legos, etc.  One Christmas my mom got them this awesome giant horse that they could sit on.  I would have NEVER wanted two of those!  In fact, two of the same thing is just wasteful to me in most cases.  I'm currently trying to convince my father and step-mother that they do not BOTH need a Leap Pad thingy (or one at all IMO).

However, "sharing" a t-shirt, one stuffed animal, one book, or something similar is just ridiculous. 
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Erich L-ster on December 06, 2013, 09:21:23 PM
The gift of the shared t-shirt or personal item meant for a single person is a cruelty toward the twins, however small and possibly unintentional. I think the prevention of gifting children with a bad experience trumps the rule about not mentioning gifts. Why continually allow the kids' feelings to be hurt on Christmas and birthdays? The repeat offenders need a straightforward talking to.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: DoubleTrouble on December 07, 2013, 07:29:50 PM
I have twins and have no problem with gifts that are meant to be shared - like a game, box of legos, etc.  One Christmas my mom got them this awesome giant horse that they could sit on.  I would have NEVER wanted two of those!  In fact, two of the same thing is just wasteful to me in most cases.  I'm currently trying to convince my father and step-mother that they do not BOTH need a Leap Pad thingy (or one at all IMO).

However, "sharing" a t-shirt, one stuffed animal, one book, or something similar is just ridiculous.

Trust me on this one, if your father & step-mother are determined to get them a Leapster, let them get two. My guys have their own Leapsters but share games, it's is so much easier than just having one Leapster to fight over. Let them share the games which are expensive.

This is one thing I'm hoping to avoid with my twins though I suspect being boy/girl twins will help with that.

The only things twins should have to share us a uterus and a birthday. They are entitled to their own presents just like all the not twins out there!

You probably will avoid it, I was thinking of this thread today & I can honestly say my brother & I never did get joint gifts as our likes were divided down the gender lines. Plus you can't really get a boy a dress without someone making a fuss. Usually it's the boy in-question making the fuss because his twin sister got a dress & he didn't. Yes, there are pictures & yes, they are darn funny!

I think that shared presents can be okay.  The caveat is that it should be something that can be shared, and it should be appropriate to the interests of both.  And, ideally, it shouldn't be every time, unless you know that they really like it and don't mind sharing.

This, so much this. I know I've seen people bemoaning the number of gifts their kids get on birthdays, just imagine that doubled! I just about had a heart attack on the boys' first birthday with all the gifts they got, I never realized how much stuff two gifts from each family really meant.

I think as kids get older, it's more important to get only individual gifts (unless it's an expensive gift like an X-Box or a car ;) ) but when they are younger, a fun joint gift that can be used by both is just fine. Yes they are individuals & yes my boys like different things but I really couldn't tell you which toy which twin got for Christmas last year (they were 4 yrs old then) other than their Leapsters which we put their names on right away. Speaking from personal experience, unless said gifts are radically different (like a doll & a car) the toys are all getting dumped into the same bin & shared. And even then that doll & car are going to get played with by both twins.

Twins should create their own identity but for a long time after birth, the sharing of toys as young children is one of those experiences unique to twins that really, really is not as bad as everyone says. When I was younger, I remember my parents always encouraging Bro & myself to be ourselves, independent of each other.

But then I had my own set of twins & I realized that this encouragement probably didn't start until Bro & I were able to express our likes/wants more independently. I've looked through old pictures & have noticed that we got a lot of the same gifts (i.e. the same thing in different colors) & that photos of us playing as young children show us playing with all the toys, no matter who got them.

I've also got a lot of friends with twins & it's the same deal, when the kiddos were young, all us twin moms just wanted toys that the kids could share that wouldn't take up huge amounts of space. When you've already got two cribs, two highchairs, two swings, two of everything that is really needed crammed into your house, it gets a bit hard to move around unless you have a huge house to handle all the stuff.

With siblings who are different ages, the differences in their likes/wants/needs are much more noticeable because they are at different developmental stages. But twins are (usually) at the same developmental stage & will like/use the same things for a long time; perhaps even longer as miranova stated her identical twin stepsons are doing. My boys are 5 now & are starting to develop their own interests which I have communicated to the primary gift givers (i.e. DS1 is more artistic while DS2 is more athletic). However, they are still so attached at the hip that if they got a joint gift (not a single t-shirt mind you!) they would be absolutely thrilled with it.

So please don't be upset with people who gift joint gifts to twins, provided they know the gifts are wanted & would be enjoyed by both children (I think all of the gifts MindsEye mentioned are fantastic joint gifts). Rather be upset with people who give a gift where the twins would have to go to King Solomon for a solution as to who gets it!
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 07, 2013, 08:18:37 PM
I think it's pretty similar for kids who aren't twins but are close enough to share interests, in that after the first few days, the toys generally get shared and nobody knows who they were for originally.  I find that tends to be the case, with the rare exception of a special toy that one kid really gloms onto.  But most of the toys, unless they are really age-specific (only my oldest uses the woodworking kit, only the toddler plays with the Elmo stuff), just get played with by everybody.

I love the King Solomon comparison.  :)
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: VorFemme on December 08, 2013, 03:02:01 PM
It's not always just the twins that get "half" a gift - my mother did this for my younger sister & I until I went off to college & got married, or so it seems.

A belt would be bought for us to share (fashionable item of the year) - but Mom would buy the size between her size, my size, and sometime Mom's size.  It fit none of us...  Or they'd buy one book of a series for me, one book of the same series for her, and we'd have to scrounge up the missing book in the trilogy (the one between her copy and my copy) from the library (if we were lucky) to find out how the danged thing got from #1 to #3!

I really tried not to make my kids "share" things - but VorGuy had fewer issues sharing things with his brother, so he kept insisting on getting ONE game system and then they got to pick their own games.  Except HE wanted to watch tv in the living room, so the game system was set up in one bedroom....where they couldn't easily share it.

I know what NOT to do in the future - if there isn't a family room for the kids to play video games in, then two hand held game systems are the way to go, not one big game system when they don't like the same games or the age difference is enough to keep them from playing the same games against each other.

And never any clothing that fits neither of them...

Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: POF on December 08, 2013, 04:49:18 PM
Do they give individual gifts ? or do they give one gift between them ( assuming they are old enough ) .  I had some classmates who ould give one gift between them.... their mother said it was too expensive for them to give individual gifts to people.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: DoubleTrouble on December 08, 2013, 05:19:50 PM
My policy for any gift giving occasion for friends is 1 gift given per invitation unless it is for a twin birthday party. So if we get an invite that's for both boys to attend a single kid party, they give one gift. If it's an invite for a twin party (that's for both twins) we give one gift to each twin unless I find a larger joint gift that I know both twins would enjoy. When we get to the point where their twin friends start to have separate birthday parties, then it will still be one gift per invitation. But then again, I'd do that if I had kids of different ages invited to the same party.

But if the boys were invited to just the party for just one twin (say with our friends that have a boy/girl combo & they only went to the boy twin party) then I would not get a gift for the girl twin. If it's a set of twins that we are really close to then I might bend the rule but only if the whole family were very good friends. Otherwise I wouldn't feel obligated to send a gift for the other twin who the party was not for. Even if it was a boy/boy or girl/girl twin group.

I don't think that any of my friends got a gift for my brother once we started having our own parties around 1st grade or so unless they were really close to both of us & even then it didn't bother either of us. Even though we might have the party together (i.e. we both wanted to have a skating party one year) the guest lists, cakes, etc were separate. Make sense?

Given that they have been jointly invited to six parties already this year (with more to come!), we'd go broke fairly quickly if I let the boys each give a gift to a party they are attending together. Thank goodness I discovered Five Below last month! The only exception are their two cousins who get more than one gift but since it's family I want to splurge ;D

The bigger issue is when it's family not making the effort to see them as separate people & give them a gift that can only be used by one. If we got the t-shirt gift from a non-close friend or family member, I'd probably roll my eyes internally, thank the giver & go find a matching gift. If it was from a close family member I'd probably pull them aside & whack them with a clue-by-4 upside the head a few times.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 09, 2013, 09:36:22 AM
I love being an only child. I got all my own toys, all my own gifts...very nice set up.  ;)

Partner's siblings are considerably older then her (her sister is 8 years older, her brother is 10 years older) so she didn't really have to share toys either. What 5 year old is interested in and what a 13 and 15 year old are interested in are usually very different. But her siblings reported for years being given gifts to share. Even though they had 2 years between them and were different genders. One Christmas a relative bought them the Barbie dream house, several new Barbies, two Barbie cars, and a decent wardrobe for the doll too. For both her brother and sister to share. Neither of them really had any interest in Barbie.

Partner says the same relative did try to pull off the "share this piece of clothing" with her and her sister. It was apparently a nice purse and she figured the girls would just "take turns", of course partner was like 10 and her sister was 18. So her sister got it (Partner was fine with this) and her mother called and patiently explained that there was an 8 year age difference and there weren't a lot of things the girls were going to share. Especially clothing. And her 10 year old daughter didn't need a nice leather purse. Because she's 10.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: Mikayla on December 12, 2013, 10:47:44 AM

As someone who is a twin, I would say, "I understand that it's easy to think of Sally and Molly (making up names) as one unit because they were born to the same mom at the same time. However, they are definitely separate people, and if you can't respect that by getting them separate gifts, don't give them gifts at all."it's hurtful to them when they don't get their own gift like the others do".


I like this.  I just lightened it up a bit.
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: dawbs on December 12, 2013, 12:00:49 PM
I think it's pretty similar for kids who aren't twins but are close enough to share interests, in that after the first few days, the toys generally get shared and nobody knows who they were for originally.  I find that tends to be the case, with the rare exception of a special toy that one kid really gloms onto.  But most of the toys, unless they are really age-specific (only my oldest uses the woodworking kit, only the toddler plays with the Elmo stuff), just get played with by everybody.

I love the King Solomon comparison.  :)

This is not specific to twins but, do the kids really not know who they originally were for?

My sisters and I all have birthdays within the same week (in different years) and we pooled our toys (they almost all lived in my baby sister's room, for a variety of reasons) but we were WELL aware of what belongs to whom.
In fact, my dad got out the Fisher Price record player for my daughter on Thanksgiving and mentioned he didn't know which of us it belonged to--3 of us said in unison "Dawbs".  And we all knew that the hobby horse was baby sis's.

(We didn't tend to mind group gifts--although the older we got, the more it became an issue--we had some shared-purchase clothing that we debated fiercely about when it came time for some of us to do vacations/college/etc)
Title: Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 13, 2013, 03:53:10 PM
I think it's pretty similar for kids who aren't twins but are close enough to share interests, in that after the first few days, the toys generally get shared and nobody knows who they were for originally.  I find that tends to be the case, with the rare exception of a special toy that one kid really gloms onto.  But most of the toys, unless they are really age-specific (only my oldest uses the woodworking kit, only the toddler plays with the Elmo stuff), just get played with by everybody.

I love the King Solomon comparison.  :)

This is not specific to twins but, do the kids really not know who they originally were for?

My sisters and I all have birthdays within the same week (in different years) and we pooled our toys (they almost all lived in my baby sister's room, for a variety of reasons) but we were WELL aware of what belongs to whom.
In fact, my dad got out the Fisher Price record player for my daughter on Thanksgiving and mentioned he didn't know which of us it belonged to--3 of us said in unison "Dawbs".  And we all knew that the hobby horse was baby sis's.

(We didn't tend to mind group gifts--although the older we got, the more it became an issue--we had some shared-purchase clothing that we debated fiercely about when it came time for some of us to do vacations/college/etc)

Well, it probably depends on the item, really.  With the dolls?  For the most part, after a while, nobody really knows which doll belonged to who anymore.  Same with the stuffed animals.  The exceptions are the ones that were really special to a kid, or that were bought within the last year or so.  There are definitely a few of these (especially stuffed animals for my oldest, as she's a big stuffed animal fan, whereas the second is a big doll fan).

A lot of toys are sort of like... sets.  Like my girls have these Stella Squeak toys.  They have little plastic houses and furniture, and the characters are these little toy anthropomorphic mice.  One kid got one house, one kid got another.  Then there were various smaller sets.  The kids *sort* of remember who got each house, but nobody remembers for any of the smaller sets or the mouse characters.  LEGOs, of course, all end up in the LEGO bin once they've been put together a time or two.

And there are many toys that, while they *do* remember who it belonged to, they're no longer possessive of it after a while.  My oldest *longed* for this Rapunzel doll back when she was 3.  She finally got it for... maybe Christmas when she was about to turn 5?  So she had wanted it for something like 2 years.  Now she's about to turn 7, and she doesn't mind if a sister plays with it, although if you ask the girls, they know who it belongs to.  Jenny will refer to it as "Emily's Rapunzel doll," but she'll still play with it without Emily objecting.

We have a set of tiny little princess dolls with removable clothing.  These were Emily's favorite toys in the whole world, once, and a bunch of them were Christmas/birthday presents.  I doubt she even remembers.  At most, she might remember the one that she bought last, because she bought it with her first savings from her allowance.

Charlotte tends to claim any toy she wants to play with as hers, "From Grammy and Grandpap!"  She doesn't know what she's talking about.  :) Half the stuff she tries to claim as hers was Emily's when Emily was a toddler.  Emily, of course, has grown out of Elmo, so she doesn't mind Charlotte taking the stuff over... but sometimes it's a point of contention between Jenny and Charlotte and neither, obviously, has a strong claim to it.

I do find, though, that when stuff is new, it's helpful to know whose is whose.  For instance, one year, my mom bought all three of the oldest a Pascal toy (a chameleon from Tangled).  I ended up marking them (a dot with a Sharpie under the tongue) so I could tell which each belonged to.  Partly because they'd find one, not know whose it was, and fight over it.  Partly because if we knew *whose* was missing, we had a better chance of figuring out where it went.

I think, though, that the memories fade with time and interest.  My kids are still little enough that after a few years, they aren't interested in the same kinds of toys.  So they don't really remember that it was theirs or even care.  I could see caring more if they were older, and the toys were older and thus being interesting and desired for longer.