It's Not You, It's Nature; What Raising Twins Has Taught Me


I’m sure you’ve all heard various stories about the effects of Nature vs. Nurture, often surfacing from some string of misfortune where identical twins were separated at birth and later reunited. You know, the ones that can’t be set up in a study because, well, ethics.  

Instead of two identical people growing up in different circumstances, I have the opposite; two very different little boys (fraternal twins), growing up in the same circumstances. This has given me a pretty cool look into some of the ways that I don’t stand a chance against nature.

In a lot of ways, I am happy to conclude you can rest easy knowing you're not completely at fault for everything wrong with your children.   

I’ve spent so much time wondering how different my kids would be without siblings, or how they would be if they came in a different birth order, or if the boys weren’t twins, or various other things that have happened along the way. 

My mom often tells me that she always thought I was such a crazy little toddler because I had an older brother to feed off of, but after seeing how equally crazy my daughter is as the firstborn, she now wonders if I would have been that way anyway. I guess there is no real way to know, but here are a few ways that nature has run its course with my boys.

Let’s start off with the obvious things, you know the things that even a complete stranger can pick up on:

  • At birth, one had dark hair and dark eyes and the other blonde hair and blue eyes. One is essentially my husband and one is me.  
  • One weighed more at birth, but was slightly shorter; and now the other is an inch and a half taller, his feet are a size bigger, and he’s got a few pounds on his brother.

And then there are a few other personality quirks and developmental milestones that have also been markedly different:

  • One started crawling about a month before the other and walking about a month earlier as well.
  • One of the boy's speech abilities took off much before the other, and is still noticeably more developed in this area.
  • One was fully potty trained by two years and two months old. They are now two years and four months old and the other still insists that he can’t… "too little,” and refuses to even sit on the potty.  

What is most interesting, is that there are more subtle traits and needs that are emerging:

  • One can sit and play by himself very well, while the other is much needier for help.
  • One loves his sleep and is always the last one up in the morning (although he is the tougher one to settle at bedtime); the other ends up in our bed in the middle of the night several times a week, or otherwise is up at the crack of dawn.
  • One needs frequent hugs, kisses and cuddles throughout the day to keep his “cup” full, whereas the other just takes advantage of longer snuggles in the morning, post-nap, post-meltdown, and at bedtime.
  • One of them has a stronger personality (like our daughter), and the other is just happy to follow along. Our daughter recognizes this, and so naturally favours the one she can boss around and not butt heads with.
  • One loves the pool and will swim all by himself (with a lifejacket), while the other clings to us for dear life, screaming if we even think about letting go of him.
  • One is much more outgoing in general. He likes to be silly and joke around more and he definitely warms up to people more quickly than his bro. 
  • One has more aggressive tantrums, often resulting in him flailing, hitting, kicking, biting, and engaging in general hysteria for a good 5-10 minutes. The other knows how to have a good meltdown as well but tends to have less violent outlets for his frustration. He tends to recover and move on a lot quicker.

You get the idea. They were polar opposites right from the get-go, and their differences are only becoming more distinct. For some reason I always felt that being raised in the same surroundings and with the same bossy big sis would unite them and make them more similar, but I have yet to see that.

The truth is that it gives me a slight sense of relief knowing that even though my kids are growing up in the same house, with the same schedule and similar attention, that my two little guys still manage to be so unique. 

It is a good reminder that each of my kids (twins or not) responds differently to different situations, and that they require different responses from me.

I’m holding out hope that if I can just love them, support them, teach them right from wrong, and basic discipline, that nature will take care of the rest… because it’s already evident that I don’t have much choice in the matter anyway. 

Kristie Sykes