Twin Names – To Match or Not To Match?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Naming, Parenting | Posted on 09-02-2013

twin names

Naming twins, triplets and more can be an exciting part of preparing for the arrival of your multiples.

Websites for choosing twin names abound (even Googling “names for triplets” turns up a number of online resources), but the research on the impact of naming your twins, triplets or more is less publicly accessible.

As both individuals and members of a set, multiple birth children face a unique self-identity struggle which their singleton counterparts don’t.

The frenzy with which some expectant parents choose “matching set names” underscores this:

Help!”, writes one expectant mother of triplets in an online forum post, “I really need 3 beautiful matching girls’ names! TRIPLETS!”

Matching Names for Multiples

Although the image of three beautiful little baby girls makes me smile, the alarming sense I get is that mom is already seeing her babies as a group only, and forgetting to consider their individual identities.

In her 2011 article addressing “ego fusion” in monozygotic (a.k.a. “identical”) twins, researcher Sophie Cassell considers the naming of twins:

“On a basic level”, Cassell notes, the naming of twins often takes into consideration the twinship. Parents often use rhyming names or alliteration to signal that they are part of the same unit (Stewart, 2000, quoted in Cassell, 2011).

This automatically labels the twins as two parts of one whole set, which is a social reinforcer of ego and identity fusion.”

 Read the full article here.

Although there is good evidence to support celebrating the special bond between twins, triplets and higher-order multiples, expectant parents of multiples should consider the importance of helping each child develop her own unique, “whole” identity in addition to her identity as part of a set.

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee?

Having rhyming names or some similar “twinsy” type name may seem cute when they’re babies, but can cause considerable turmoil to multiple birth children as they grow up, especially if they are too closely coupled.

Another option that is less obvious but still signals the special relationship between multiple birth siblings is to use anagrams, names whose letters can be rearranged to form another name, for example:

Alan and Nala for boy/girl twins, or Alanis and Salina if you’re expecting two girls.

This way, the “match” can be more subtle.

Considering how best to address the individuality and co-identity of multiple birth children is an important subject matter for families expecting twins, triplets or more.  We explore this topic and many other relevant issues in our twins-specific prenatal class online.  If you or someone you know is pregnant with multiples, we encourage you to sign up here.