competition

Let’s End the Myth of the “Evil Twin”

by Samantha on January 31, 2015

There is no "good" twin and "bad" twin in the pair - let's end this fallacy

Good twin, evil twin

It was an otherwise mundane Saturday at Costco.

With three kids in tow, I sauntered through the aisles, plying myself and the kids with free samples and piling up my shopping cart with bulk items, many of which I didn’t really need.

We lined up in the checkout aisle and I took a deep breath before the final total was told to me by the cashier (it’s always more than you think it’s going to be when shopping at this particular store).

Making our way to our car, with my boys sitting together in the front of the shopping cart, we were stopped by what looked to be a kind-hearted woman. Smiling, first at me, then at the kids - with a focus on the boys in particular - she stopped me.

“Are they twins?,” she asked.

“Yes. They’re identical,” I responded.

“Awww! They’re so cute!”

“Thank-you!,” I replied.

Looking at both of them with wonderment and curiosity, I thought I knew what she was going to ask next.

She’s going to ask me how I tell them apart, I thought to myself.

I was sure that this question must have been coming because it’s often one of the first things that people ask when they see identical twins - at least it has been in my experience.

Imagine my surprise, then, when she hit me with this doozy:

“Which one is the ‘good’ twin and which one is the ‘evil’ twin?”

She was serious.

My first thought was a mix of confusion and bewilderment as I tried to make sense of her question. “Good” twin? “Evil” twin? Was she for real?

Within a few milliseconds, my confusion simultaneously turned to anger and irritation about her presumptive comment.

How does one answer such a question? Was I to just respond - in front of both of my twins, and my 11-year-old daughter as well - “Oh, THIS one. THIS one is evil, this other one is good.

Was that really her expectation?

The mythology surrounding twins - particularly identical twins - is particularly fraught with the erroneous perspective that there is a “good” twin and, therefore, a “bad” one. Like Yin and Yang, black and white, opposites must co-exist and apparently this truth must be the case with identical twins. Its apparently not enough for some to accept that twins - identical or not - are not necessarily polar opposites. There is no “good” or “bad” twin any more than there is a “good” and “bad” set of siblings that haven’t had the unique experience of being born on the same day (or just a few minutes apart).

Identical twins, by definition, are certainly similar in many ways. From the obvious - how they look; to the not so obvious - their thought processes, they way they relate to each other and others, and other quirks of their personalities. That being said, they are individuals - not “good,” not “bad,” just  - different. Yet there seems to be a desire amongst some to attribute polarities to each twin. This needs to stop.

As the parent of identical twins, it’s hard enough to try to foster feelings of independence within them on a day-to-day basis. Imagine having someone who looks exactly like you? Of course you’d want to be seen as an individual. Kids will misbehave - whether they’re a twin or not - it’s a normal part of being a kid. So why is it when a twin misbehaves, they’re automatically labeled as “bad” or “evil?” Ironically, they are perceived to be the same (particularly in the case of identical twins) yet opposites. How is this logical - or fair?

Surely there are sibling rivalries that exist amongst twins, but the same can be said for any siblings, twin status notwithstanding.

There are no polarities when it comes to twins. No “good” one vs. “bad one;” no angelic child versus evil spawn, no duelling forces, vying for the top spot in their respective categories. There are just kids - warts, scabbed knees and all. Though the mythology and expectation of opposite-minded twin siblings is appealing to some, it is, fortunately, untrue.

To the woman who very rudely asked me which one of my kids was “good” and which one was “evil,” and to the many others who believe in this false dichotomy, so sorry to disappoint.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

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Kids: It’s Okay To Give Up

by Samantha on March 27, 2014

i give up
We all know the story of the little engine who thought he could.

“I think I can, I think I can” he repeated until, overcoming a great obstacle, he did. The moral of the story? That positive thinking and a will to succeed is all that is needed to achieve a goal.

While this may indeed be the case much of the time, there is an equally compelling perspective that supports an opposing ideology: that it’s okay to think you can’t do something and, accordingly, it’s okay to give up.

Gasp.

A radical thought for any of us who have grown up with the increasingly popular and optimistic perspective that a person - a child in particular - can do whatever they set out their minds to do.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly no pessimist and for the most part, subscribe to the tenets of positive thinking, supportive parenting and the belief that “mind over matter” can overcome the most challenging of scenarios. That being said, I’m also a realist and have wondered how much collective harm we are doing to our kids by telling them that they can succeed at whatever they set their minds to achieving. After all, by the time most people have reached adulthood, they are keenly aware that they can’t do everything that they set out to do - and oftentimes, it’s not the smartest decision to even attempt trying.

As parents, we’re often scared that the decisions that we make on behalf of our children will be bad ones - that we’ll mess them up by not supporting everything that they desire and want, in spite of themselves. We quote proverbs such as “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” all the while knowing in our heart of hearts - sadly - that our kids will likely fail at a the particular task at hand. Yet we continue to ease them along, saying “you can do it!” and similar supportive words. Sometimes they do do it and exceed our wildest expectations. Oftentimes, however, they don’t, which should give us pause that we wasted their time and ours on what we knew was an impossible or highly improbable task at hand. Was it better that we showed them our support even though we knew the probable outcome, or would it have been a more prudent decision to have been honest with them from the outset, saving them from wasting time and worse - the inevitable disappointment of failure?

A difficult question for sure, but most of us know the answer. Realistically, it makes a lot of sense to teach our kids the importance of “cutting one’s losses” when need be as opposed to supporting their ride on a continual treadmill with no end or success in sight. There are certainly lessons to be learned about perseverance and tenacity but aren’t lessons about knowing when to call it a day and not wasting one’s time equally important?

With our collective guilt being the determining factor for our silence, we’re doing our children more harm than good. After all - there will come a time when our kids are no longer in our purview and will have to deal with the spectre of failure outside the loving support system offered by their parents. Sometimes, such lessons are even more painful in the stark light of day in full view of those who may not be as tactful in addressing such failures.

Being a good parent isn’t always about supporting your child in their endeavours no matter what. Being a good parent is about teaching your child the importance of good judgement and more importantly about having realistic expectations about what one can likely and realistically achieve. For these and many other reasons, don’t feel guilty next time you want to tell your child to throw in the towel.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here

 


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Baby Name Shame

by Samantha on May 25, 2013

Anal? Rogue? Lucifer?

These certainly don’t sound like names that would adorn a sweet and cherubic bundle of joy, but surprisingly, they are. Though hard to believe, parents have actually bestowed these lovely names on their children, leaving their unwitting charges to fend for themselves in the playgrounds of their futures.

Whatever would possess a parent to name their child something that would inevitably set them up for a lifetime of embarrassment, scorn and possibly physical harm is beyond me, because, really - could someone named after a much-maligned part of the body or The Devil himself really have any other fate?

Recent times and modern parenting styles have spawned (pun intended) a plethora of non-traditional names that have been bestowed on the next generation of kids. Classic, “old-fashioned” names such as John, Mary and William have given way to Connor, Aiden and Ethan. Lovely names, the latter, nothing wrong with these at all. Individuality and a bit of flair never did any child wrong. It is when parents cross over the line and decide to provide their child with a gift that keeps on giving: a name that will be fodder for schoolyard bullies when they’re young and scant job opportunities when they’re old, because let’s be honest: it’s the kids who bear the brunt of their parents’ “creativity” in the naming department.

Case in point: the poor child incredulously named “Adolph Hitler Campbell.”

Out of all of the names in the world, why on earth would parents choose one of the most despised historical figures to ever blemish the earth with his presence? The parents of  little Adolph Hitler Campbell lost custody of him and siblings (one of which was named “Aryan Nation”) and rightly so. Unfortunately, these poor children, who had nothing to do with the choice of names that they were given, are now in the custody of the state, away from their parents and any sense of family that they once had (though one must question the ability of parents to adequately raise their children in light of the names that they chose for them). How is this right?

baby name book

I recall going into a coffee shop a few years ago and being served by a very sweet-looking teenage girl who provided me with exemplary service. Nice, right? Well, yes…except when I looked at her name tag, I was shocked to find that her name was Lucifer. That’s right, LUCIFER. Now, I don’t know if this was some type of a joke, if it was teenage rebellion on steroids or just the result of parents who felt that they were “sticking it to the man” or the establishment or, whatever…nonetheless, I felt incredibly sorry for this girl. Even if she had determined that she was going to rename herself after “The Prince of Darkness” it was a bad move. After all, most of us want to evoke positive imagery when our names are mentioned, not thoughts that conjure up fire and brimstone, whether you believe in “The Devil” or not. Either way, it’s not positive.

“It is when parents cross over the line and decide to provide their child with a gift that keeps on giving: a name that will be fodder for schoolyard bullies when they’re young and scant job opportunities when they’re old, because let’s be honest: it’s the kids who bear the brunt of their parents’ “creativity” in the naming department.”

Because of the increasing trends behind baby naming in modern times, certain countries have taken it upon themselves to put a stop to the insanity. If you live in Germany, Sweden, China or Japan, you are limited to what you can name your children. Now, while this may seem somewhat totalitarian in theory, one has to respect the fact that these countries are trying to protect the kids of parents who may have less than stellar abilities to choose a reasonable baby name. Thankfully, a level-headed judge in New Zealand allowed “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii” to change her name after the nine-year-old girl couldn’t take the humiliation and trauma of having to live with such a moniker. Unfortunately Number 16 Bus Shelter did not have the same fate and is living on in inevitable embarrassment, much to the chagrin of anyone who has the random fortune of interacting with this child. Heck, even Zowie Bowie, the son of über-cool rock star David Bowie wanted to be a little more “normal” and changed his name to Duncan.

I’m all for uniqueness when it comes to naming a child. After all, no one wants to give their child a name that will be shared by three or more kids in their grade school classroom. That being said, parents still need to consider certain parameters when making a decision that will affect their child for many years to come, if not for their whole lives. This is serious stuff, folks.

Let’s stop the insanity, parents. Naming your kid “ESPN,” “Hashtag” and “Fish and Chips” (twins)  is bad enough; saddling them with “Sing Praises,” “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116” and “Number 16 Bus Shelter” is downright wrong.

Call me a prude, a stick-in-the-mud or a square, but I long for the days of John and Martha.

How do you feel about “unique” baby names? Do you think it’s fair for parents to name their kids whatever they please? Why or why not? What is the most ridiculous baby name that you’ve encountered? Answer in the comments below!

To read this article on Huffington Post, please click here: It should go without saying, but don’t name your baby “Hitler”

VIDEO: A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash


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stressed mom

What’s the hardest part of being a parent?

If you ask this question to anyone who has had the experience of being called “Mom” or “Dad,” you will get a variety of different answers. While many of us revel in the amazing and precious moments that parenting provides to us, we can’t deny that it’s more than a challenge being the one that our children learn from, look up to, love, sometimes hate, and always question (especially when they’re in their teen years).

There’s no handbook for how to parent correctly; we all come upon the right way to do it through old-fashioned trial and error. And as much as we try to follow some of the classic parenting advice out there, it doesn’t always work for us. Kids are not plug and play. There’s no “one size fits all” solution to how to parent well. Hence the confusion, anxiety and feelings of doubt that all of us experience when our kids don’t do what we think they should. It’s a never-ending struggle.

So with these truths in mind, its no wonder that I’m asking a very simple yet understandable question as part of this post: What is the hardest part of being a parent? Why? What has been the most challenging part of your role as a mother or father and how have you dealt with it?

Answer in the comments below. Can’t wait to hear from you!

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VIDEO: What’s the hardest part of being a parent?

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