Nature vs Nurture in Twins

“Me, Gah, me!”

My girl calls her brother “Gah”.  Not sure why as it has nothing to do with his actual name, but that’s definitely what she calls him.  Our Nanny sent a video of her saying, “Me, Gah, me” as he’s sitting on the big rocker and she wants him to move over so she can get up as well, and it made me think about assertiveness and confidence in girls.  And eventually the women they become along the way.

And then it got me thinking about how these kids are being raised exactly the same way in exactly the same time, and yet will come out of it as completely different kids.  Because Nature vs Nurture in twins is unfolding before our eyes in our home.

She’s later to speak than her brother.  She does a lot of singing (she’s got the rhythm, let me tell you) and they definitely have their own twin language – technically called Cryptophasia – and yes, it’s a real thing.  They both do a combination of speaking and sign language right now, but most of the time we can tell what they are saying and asking for.  There are many conversations we are no part of, and that’s just fine. It’s incredible that they have each other to dive into life with everyday and for comfort whenever they may need it.

She brings him his lovey (Didda) when he’s low.  He leans in for kisses when she wears her pouty face.  They make each other laugh unlike any other human or beast.  When they are at their most distressed, just leaning one into the other usually quells the madness.  They rely on each other and it’s a bond unlike any I’ve ever seen.

She sits on my lap and we do expressions.  Emotions.  She started this.  I think she must have seen it on Sesame Street.  She is super excited and smiley and then says “nooooo” and does a sad face.  And she wants me to mimic and do the same faces/emotions as her.  She’s definitely capable of the full spectrum of emotion, as we see them all every day.  Toddlers, am I right?


We are raising them EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.  They both have the same experiences at the same time.  So why is it that she is more timid? More agreeable.  More of a follower.  We’ve got the whole Nature vs Nurture conundrum in our faces every day.  Because it’s how they interpret these experiences on their own personal level that matters.

We all know as adults that we can go through the same experience and have completely different reactions to it.  Because it’s our own personal make up that determines our reactions.  That’s what’s so fascinating to watch unfold.  It’s what makes us unique and interesting.  Our reactions. Nature vs. Nurture.  Same experiences, different outcomes due to our own instincts and make-ups.

I continue to remind my husband (to his chagrin, but he’s saying it because I know he believes in this too) that she is CLEVER SMART AND FUNNY. Not just cute.  Not just nice.  Not just pretty.  She’s a pretty and nice girl, don’t get me wrong. BUT she is so much more.  Instead of saying, “You are such a pretty girl” or “You are such a nice girl.”  While pretty and nice are not bad things to be, hey, HELLO!  We pepper in CLEVER SMART AND FUNNY.  That’s the message we convey to her. Because that’s what she is. It’s all too obvious when you spend any amount of time with her.

We hope, wish, stress confidence and assertiveness to her.  Her dad, our nanny and those around them quietly cheer when we see her really assert herself.  She’s definitely more even-keeled than her brother and he’s the dominant one. That can and does change, but more often than not, he leads the way.

They are a package deal still at this point and the near future, and in some ways forever hopefully, but it’s fascinating to watch them navigate the pitfalls of power.  As they grow older and develop, we will separate as it feels right and when they need their own space.  For now, there is some biting and hair pulling, on both their parts, of course, but for the most part they have a moment of anger and recover pretty well.  She will give in and let him have the toy.  Or have his way.  And it seems to quiet things.  But when we see it, we step in if it gets aggressive to make sure they both know what’s right and kind.

It’s my own baggage as a woman to think, I don’t want him to walk all over her and have her think it’s ok and that she needs to let it happen. To be submissive.  That’s my issue.  I fought my whole life to overcome silent raging submissiveness and finally have.  But I see it in her sometimes and it makes me shudder.  It’s parenting without adding my own baggage that sometimes gets me.

If she is more timid and doesn’t fight for what she wants as loudly as he does, I need to know it’s not necessarily bad.  She’s her own person.  Just because she may be more passive doesn’t mean she’s not strong.

While at the same time, I never want to discourage my boy’s confidence. He’s got it.  He’s sure of himself.  He’s a leader.  He knows what he wants and what he doesn’t want.  I admire the hell out of that.  Hell, I am 41 and just now sure of what I want and don’t want.  How does he know so much already?

That said, teaching and demonstrating compassion and equality and kindness with him is a constant in our home.  Just because he CAN take the lead doesn’t mean that he always needs to.  He needs to respect and act kindly toward others. He’s got the confidence and the smarts, he needs the kindness and the compassion on a consistent basis.  My boy is hilarious.  He’s smart as a whip too.  He’s so sweet and kind. When he wants to be.  It’s not quite as blatant with him the way it is with her.

And before you say, STOP COMPARING THEM.  Hey, they’re twins.  It’s only natural that we would compare them a bit.  They are so very different. They are wildly opposite in many ways.  And yet they compliment each other like salt and pepper.  And as someone who believes most foods are just vehicles for salt and pepper, I love them both equally and need liberal amounts of both in my life.

Our kids are very different and developing in incredible ways.  We want to encourage them as best we can to be all they can be.  Much of who they will become is dependent on us as parents and how we raise them.  But much is already determined.  Already made up in their still little but growing every day bodies.  Their emotions are big.  Thier reactions are big.  Nature vs Nurture.  We’ve got a front row seat to these little people developing and there is no fourth wall.  It’s in our faces all the time.  Whether we like it or not, we are responsible for doing the most we can for as long as we can to ensure they become strong, clever, smart and funny kids and then adults.  It’s terrifying and exciting all at once.

But let’s all be honest, as long as they are funny, we’ve done our job, right?


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