Why Are Twins So Different?

People who don�t have twins frequently assume that multiples are exactly alike. Although some twins may be difficult to tell apart from a physical standpoint, their differing personalities often give them away!
My own twin sons have radically different personalities. One is very verbal. The other excels in athletics. One will eat anything that�s put on his plate. The other turns up his nose at everything. But my twins are fraternal, so I expected them to be like any other siblings who just happen to share a birth date. They are two completely different people. But how does one explain personality differences when twins are identical and share the same genes?
Experts say this is possible because human development is not determined solely by our genes. For example, if twins share a placenta but one has a �better connection� to the nutrients it provides, this twin may be bigger or display other differences as a result of being better fed. Scientists also speculate that natural chemical changes in our genetic material may affect the way certain genes dominate. This could explain why identical twins tend to show more differences as they get older and don�t spend as much time together�their natural chemical changes affect their development as individuals. And identical twins have different fingerprints, so obviously certain features are determined by something other than just genes.
A friend of mine with identical twins tells me that one of his boys has a personality that�s similar to his, while the other is more like his mother. Did each twin just happen to bond more with one parent and acquire more of that person�s characteristics, or is something else at play? Scientists are still trying to figure out these mysteries! Perhaps that�s why identical twins are frequently used in scientific experiments. Their genes are the same, but the children are still different. How fascinating!
Encourage your twins to develop their own personalities, and make sure you appreciate them for their differences. Being shy is no less valuable than being outgoing. And being a bookworm is just as interesting as being an athlete. Allow your twins to have their own interests, and never try to force one child to be more like the other. Don�t insist that they both join Little League if one�s just not interested. Let them explore what makes them happy, and celebrate the wonderful mystery of your different twins!

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About Susan Heim

Susan M. Heim is an author and editor, specializing in multiples, parenting, women’s and Christian issues. Her books include "Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power"; "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More"; "It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence"; "Twice the Love: Stories of Inspiration for Families with Twins, Multiples and Singletons"; and, "Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year." Upcoming books include "Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family," "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Women," and "Moms of Multiples' Devotions to Go." Susan's articles and essays have appeared in many books, magazines and Web sites. She is a member of the National Association of Women Writers and the Southeastern Writers Association, and has a degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. Susan lives with her husband and four sons (two teenagers and twin grade-schoolers) in Florida.

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