Twin Etiquette: Is It Mandatory to Include Both Twins in Social Events?

Should you invite both twins?. KidStock / Getty Images

Question: Twin Etiquette: Is It Mandatory to Include Both Twins in Social Events?

What’s the right thing to do? Sometimes with twins, the rules of etiquette aren’t as clear as they would be when dealing with one child. Certainly, every situation -- and every set of twins -- is different, and there will be occasions where my opinions don’t fit your particular circumstances. But this article is designed to serve as a guide for dealing with sticky twin situations, intended to avoid hurt feelings and deal sensitively with twin issues.

Q. Do you have to invite both twins?


Do these scenarios sound familiar?

"My seven-year-old son is inviting his whole class to his birthday party. One of the students in his class is a twin, with a twin sister in another class. Do I have to invite the twin also?"

"My thirteen-year-old daughter is hosting a sleepover. One of the friends she wants to invite has a twin sister, but she doesn’t really get along with the sister. Does she have to invite both twins?"

"We’re taking our kids and some of their friends to an amusement park. There’s only so much room in the car, and we are limited in the number of kids we can bring along. My son is friends with a set of twins. Even though they are his best friends, I’m considering not inviting them. If we have to bring both of them, we’ll have to leave out another friend. Help! How can we get around this?"

This issue is a sticky situation for many people, and every family with twins will encounter it.

As a mom of twins, I am always appreciative when approached by another parent about this issue. I appreciate their sensitivity in inquiring about the proper thing to do, because I believe they genuinely want to avoid hurt feelings. I (almost) always reassure them that it is perfectly fine to only invite one twin.

My girls are not a package deal, after all. I would much prefer that they ask me, rather than choose not to invite either twin for fear of doing the wrong thing. There are many situations where twins are excluded altogether for this very reason.

Of course, there have been situations where it was very hurtful to include only one twin, for example, when it is a mutually shared friend. In those situations, we have had to evaluate each opportunity for its individual circumstances. In some cases, it is simply too painful, and we make the choice that neither twin will attend. But other instances serve as a helpful lesson in dealing with disappointment. Life for twins -- and everyone else -- is not fair and equal, and eventually children have to accept that not everybody gets to do everything all the time.

If you are a parent of a singleton wondering whether or not you should invite both twins, here is my advice. Consider the situation. Are you inviting the siblings of any of your child’s other friends? Is your child friends with both twins equally? Then, if circumstances permit, invite both twins. I am always in favor of inclusion over exclusion. The more the merrier!

Is your child's friendship primarily with only one of the twins?

With many twins in separate classes at school, they may not even know the party host. Most families encourage their multiples to develop their own friendships. Feel free to invite only the one twin that your child has a relationship with, especialy if your event is limited by budget or logistics that would make it difficult to add another guest.

To avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings, I always advise approaching the parent of the twins or multiples to pose the question. That way, there is no appearance of a snub. If it’s a thorny issue, they’ll definitely let you know their preferences.

Those that feel strongly about the issue tend to be vocal about it. But in most cases, when families are committed to permitting their twins to develop as individuals, they will reassure you that it is perfectly acceptable to invite only one twin.

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