Everyone deserves to have their own identity, but twins often are not given that same luxury.
But just because they look alike or were born at the same time doesn’t mean they don’t have their own personalities and interests, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor FitStarAnise insisted that her six-year-old twin daughters be treated as their own people, but her sister-in-law had repeatedly only referred to them as “the twins.”
When her sister-in-law said it didn’t matter and would not change her ways, the Original Poster (OP) decided she wouldn’t be welcome in her home until she changed her behavior.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for banning my husband’s sister from my house until she uses the names of my twins?”
The OP’s sister-in-law (SIL) had been reconnecting with family since moving back to town.
“I (38 Female) am married with two children, identical twin daughters, Amy and Nina (age 6).”
“We live in the same town as most of my husband’s family, living in the house I inherited from my grandfather. It is the biggest house in the family so we often host family gatherings.”
“My husband’s youngest sister, Jane (31 Female), has been traveling for work ever since her early twenties. In mid-2022, she moved in with her fiancé about a half an hour drive away from us.”
“Since then, Jane has shown up regularly for family gatherings and rebuilding relationships with her family members.”
But the OP felt her SIL should put more effort into her relationship with her twin nieces.
“The only thing she never bothers to do is address my daughters by their names.”
“Amy and Nina are identical twins. I understand when people refer to them as ‘the twins,’ but I think it is important that their individuality is respected.”
“I always tell family and friends that now that they are six years old, it is important for them to have their own identity and if possible, to please treat them as individuals rather than a pair or a unit.”
“My girls have different interests and hair/dressing styles so it is not hard to tell them apart.”
“But Jane always insists on calling the girls ‘the twins’ and makes no effort to distinguish them.”
“I asked her many times to treat them as individuals, like her other nieces and nephews, and Jane would say okay and then keep doing the same thing.”
The situation worsened last Christmas.
“Last Christmas, Amy made paper cranes, and Nina painted flower pictures as their Christmas gifts to everyone in the family. They signed their names and individually handed the gift to everyone.”
“Jane’s fiancé had to work this year and did not join us, so after brunch, she video-called him in the living room while the rest of us did our things nearby.”
“Her fiancé saw the crane in her hand and asked where she got it, and Jane said, ‘Oh, one of the twins gave it to me for Christmas. The other twin drew some flowers.'”
“I felt that this was disrespectful because my girls put a lot of effort into the gifts and deserve to have their private dedication recognized.”
“When everyone left, I told Jane I expected her to call my girls Amy and Nina from now on and to treat them like individuals and know their differences.”
“Jane said that she won’t bother as my girls are too young.”
“So I told her she was banned from my house until she learns how to address my girls by their names. My husband agreed with me on this.”
“Jane just stomped off.”
The problem came up again while the OP was planning her husband’s birthday party.
“A few days ago, my Mother-in-Law (MIL) called to plan my husband’s birthday in early February.”
“I told her we could have the party at my house like usual, but Jane would not be invited.”
“My MIL was alarmed and asked why, and when she learned of what happened, she was mad at Jane.”
“Jane called me a few hours ago, calling me AH for making a big deal out of something insignificant.”
“She said my girls would be known as ‘the twins’ whether I like it or not, and once they get older, people WILL recognize them as individuals, but not now when they’re young and ‘just another couple of girls.'”
“She said she deserves to be with her family for her brother’s birthday, and I need to let it go.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed with the OP that Ana and Nina deserved to be viewed as individuals.
“As the mother of identical twin girls (who are now adults), I was very intentional about clearly treating them as individuals while still enjoying the uniqueness of being twins. Creating an environment where they are treated as two separate humans, not a unit, is incredibly important.”
“They have commented more than once how much they appreciated this growing up.”
“Stick to your guns on this.” – MommaGrammy
“We went through something very similar to this in my school. The twins in our family were referred to by multiple people as ‘the twins,’ because it doesn’t matter, right?”
“It’s one thing for strangers to address them as ‘the twins’ and a very different one for someone so closely related to do so. I grew up with two identical twins as very close friends, and the competitiveness and lack of individuality encouraged by their parents and family scarred them for life.”
“It’s been so sad to see them grow apart and become vindictive as we’ve grown older. Instead of having a built-in friend for life, they keep arguing as 10-year-olds about the pettiest things. It’s only gotten worse now that they’re in the marriage and kids stage.” – Holiday-Teacher900
“My two-year-old has very definite opinions on things. She loves rainbows and unicorns and any sea animal and music and dancing. She doesn’t like having her hands dirty but loves doing activities that make her hands dirty.”
“They know who they are even at those young ages.” – naughtycrossstitches
“Her excuse for doing it is also pretty flimsy. She thinks they’re too young to have individuality, and yet, they are clearly expressing individuality both in their appearance and in the gifts they chose to give her.”
“Also, I teach six-year-olds, and they are *definitely* individuals. SIL is full of it.” – rogue144
“I was in fifth grade with a pair of identical twins whose parents made them dress the same and wear their hair the same, etc., and then one day, one of them went into the school toilets and cut all her hair off with a pair of art scissors.”
“That was the wake-up call for their parents, who finally let them be individuals.”
“The sister-in-law needs an equivalent wake-up call. Maybe missing out on some family events will do it for her.” – Kalamac
Others felt there were times “the twins” was appropriate, but not the way Jane was using it.
“At times, saying ‘the twins’ would be appropriate, like in situations where you could swap in ‘the girls’ or ‘the kids.’ But never in situations where their name would be more appropriate.” – naughtycrossstitches
“As I was reading this, I was thinking that there would be times saying ‘the twins’ would be fine, but then I got to OP’s example of the gifts, and calling them ‘the twins’ then was just so disrespectful.”
“I can’t believe the aunt would think that’s an okay thing to do, it doesn’t even answer the question of who the gifts were from, either.”
“The aunt is also crazy thinking a six-year-old doesn’t really have an identity.” – sleepygrumpydoc
“It’s not even just that that situation absolutely called for calling them by their actual name, but she was straight-up rude to OP when she spoke to her about it.”
“Even if this was one of those situations where ‘the twins’ would be appropriate if I called my sister’s twins (also six, which is a fun coincidence) ‘the twins,’ and she was like, ‘Can you address them by their names, they’re individual people,’ this would NOT be the hill I would die on.”
“It’s like when a parent hates a nickname that somebody gives their kids (that isn’t chosen by the kid themself), why would you fight with them on it? Why is OP’s SIL so insistent on calling them ‘the twins?’ She’s the AH for that.” – haleorshine
“Probably one of the reasons I’d be a bad mother, but I would be petty and have them referring to her as ‘that lady.’ And when asked which one, follow up with ‘the rude one.'” – VespertineStars
“I was just reading this and thinking yeah, ‘the twins’ works, and I’ve used it. But then the more I read, the more I was like, ‘But it doesn’t replace their names!!'”
“It’s also like, you call people by the names they want to be known as.”
“This is a case of being incredibly lazy and then deciding to argue it rather than admit you don’t care enough to learn their names. H**l, even calling one by the wrong name and going, ‘Ummm, Amy?’ would be better than going ‘one twin’ and ‘the other twin.'” – naughtycrossstitches
“I respect the OP for how she waited until this moment to lay down the law. It’s obvious that this is a time to call them by their names, and the fact that the SIL refused to even after OP asked her to is making it clear she’s doing it out of rudeness.”
“Sometimes we still call my sister’s twins ‘the twins’ when the situation calls for it, and they will get that their entire lives, but everybody knows it’s rude to do it instead of learning their names.”
“I think the aunt knows it, too; she’s doing it as a weird power play.” – haleorshine
The subReddit completely understood the concerns the OP had about her sister-in-law’s behavior and the message her sister-in-law was sending to her twin daughters.
While they were twins and also identical, they still had unique personalities that deserved to be honored, at the very minimum, by being addressed by their names.
If the sister-in-law couldn’t do even that small task, maybe she didn’t need to have access to her nieces.