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home : columns : dear harriette January 25, 2020

12/5/2019 7:53:00 AM
Mom wants to make sure identical twins are individuals

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have 10-year-old twin sons. Over the years, my husband and I have often given them the same gifts for holidays. We have done that in part because they are so similar. They are identical, and they spend most of their time together. This year, one of my twins took me aside and asked me to get him something very different from his brother. He further asked if I wouldn't tell his brother because he didn't want him to decide he wanted the same thing.

My boy is expressing his individuality, which is great. But now I'm wondering if I have been missing cues all along because they are identical. I know that they are two different people, but even I, as their mother, get forgetful because they are so similar. How can I be more attentive to both of my boys? -- Twin Blues

DEAR TWIN BLUES: Don't beat yourself up. Instead, start having individual conversations with your boys on a regular basis, and listen carefully to what they say. Pay attention to learn their particular interests, likes and dislikes. Discover what makes each of them unique. As they grow up, they will continue to come into personal awareness of who they are and what makes them happy. Your job as their mother is to listen and respond accordingly.

You can start this season by getting the one twin what he has requested. You should also talk to the other twin to get a sense of his interests. Be careful, though, not to talk about what his brother has requested. Build an independent bond with him, and learn what he has to share with you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I noticed on social media that a college friend is very ill. I called her to check on her, and she was in the hospital. She sounded terrible and scared. I listened to her as long as she was able to talk before a doctor came in. I feel so bad for her, but I don't know how to help. She lives several states away, and I simply cannot go to see her now. It is hard for her to talk on the phone because her breathing is compromised. How can I help her without causing her more pain? -- Friend in Need

DEAR FRIEND IN NEED: You can text your friend to let her know you are thinking about her. Feel free to go old-school and send her a card, flowers or a plant. Pay attention to her. Since she is using social media, you can write pleasant messages to her on her favorite site, encouraging her and offering your blessings. But for a more intimate engagement, write to her directly.

You can call her, but let her know that you will do the talking, since her speaking is compromised. You can share stories with her about your life. You can tell her things about mutual friends. You can ask her if she needs support. She can write down her needs or tell you in brief bits of communication.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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