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Parent like a Triplet: The Definitive Guide for Parents of Twins and Triplets

kr 298

Tradewind Heights

Beskrivelse av boka

If you’re wondering what it really feels like to grow up a multiple, especially an identical twin or an identical triplet, you’re in the right place.

Written with humour and honesty by Norwegian identical triplet Kari Ertresvåg, Parent like a Triplet is a rare first-person glimpse into what it’s like to grow up as a multiple and an A-to-Z on how best to raise twins and triplets.

Aimed at making readers feel what it might be like to be a twin or a triplet, Kari shares real-life examples from the weird and wacky world of growing up as an identical triplet. She weaves in practical and tried-and-tested tips, tricks and advice based on psychologist insights and research so that parents can learn how to raise happy, emotionally-confident multiples with strong sibling bonds.

Described by twin experts and parents of twins and triplets as “a bible for parents of multiples”, “funny, honest and heartfelt” and “like having a conversation with an old friend”.

Part parenting book, part memoir, Parent like a Triplet is an essential read for anyone raising multiples, and will also amuse and inform twins and triplets and their friends, teachers, and partners.

Includes a foreword by world renowned twin expert Joan A. Friedman, Ph.D.


Introduction: One became multiple

Like everyone else, I began life as a fertilized egg. But mine—well, mine kept on splitting. One became multiple.

This book is everything I have learned from being an identical triplet, everything I’ve ever wondered about and everything I wish my parents had read before my sisters and I came into the world. It’s the book I wish someone had thrust into my hand as a teenager and that everyone around me had read. In short, it’s what I hope is a funny but also secretly serious look at what it means to be a multiple, whether identical or fraternal.


This book is a parental battle guide to twins and triplets

I began thinking about writing this book when I turned 31. That’s when it hit me. It could have been me: that was my mother’s age when we were born. It’s also the time I realized that if I were to offer any advice at all, I had to be able to speak only as someone’s child and not already be a parent who, let’s face it, would know better than dish out advice left, right and center to anyone juggling multiple babies.

Indeed, I drafted most this book before I had a child of my own, which at times means an author with expectations on the other side of reasonable. But throughout it is a book written with lots of love for parents of multiples, meant to amuse, comfort, and above all make you think, Ah-ha, I get it now.

If you’re a parent looking for practical tips on how to foster individuality in your children and the bond between them, I got you. On the small-scale, I will tell you how to dress your children so that others can make them out as different people, why shared gifts are right up there with liver stew, homework and early bedtimes, and how to make sure a shared birthday still becomes each little person’s very special day. I’ll also tell you what psychologists say about twins’ shared social world as little, how comparisons and competitions play out, and why our quest for individuality is more driven than what most people experience.

What’s also in this book are all the things you might not think about or be aware of as a parent, like why you should scrap the word ‘separation’ for ‘pause’ whenever you ponder some alone time for your children, why your children might not perceive each other as in-built best buddies, and how to avoid the frankly bleak situation where they feel responsible for their co-multiples’ happiness at all times.

Many parents will undoubtedly find comfort in reading about the life-sustaining bond many multiples enjoy (indeed, we live longer than singletons—and that would be the Bridget Jones-y term researchers have come up with for all non-multiples—due to our close social bonds), but only going on about the wonderful bits won’t resolve the things that make it trickier than necessary to be a multiple. This book is therefore also my beef with the many myths surrounding twins and triplets, about pitfalls to steer clear of or hiccups to anticipate. Because I genuinely believe that if I can do my part in pointing out what’s clearly and obviously not working, we can deal with that and then go back to belly laughs.

And related to that, this is a book that gives some insight into a seeming twin and triplet conundrum: If we truly enjoy the closest bond between people on this planet, why do many of us opt for some geographical distance between ourselves and our fellow clones come adult life? For much of our adult lives, my triplet sisters and I have chosen to study, work and live in different countries. I once made a triplet mother cry after telling her this, for she saw a broken bond looming on the horizon for her boys if they were to spend long periods apart. On the contrary, I told her: it might enable them to hold onto their closeness.


This book is also a triplet’s quest to finding answers to all things multiple

Fellow identical twins, triplets and quads are likely to be just as baffled as I first was when I learnt that we indeed fit the very definition of a clone, that people mistake us because brains function like lazy archiving systems, pausing at whoever first fits most of the criteria, and how we really should have rooted for being either first born or first home from hospital as that multiple tends to become the parental favorite. I also hope you will enjoy hearing someone else discuss the many irks of sharing DNA, like having positively unhelpful siblings point out issues with your body because it’s their body too, of people losing all common sense in their quest to find differences where they expect there to be none, and obviously, how tricky it is at times to be perceived as potayto, potahto.

And for all fraternal multiples, who perhaps picked up this book to learn if the grass is in any way greener, I trust you will be relieved to learn that you in many ways pulled the longest straw. Researchers say your parents were more likely to let you go your own ways when little and pushed less hard on your twin identity. You might be surprised nonetheless to learn of the ‘couple’s effect’, of how nurture, that would be your environment, might have masked your true nature and that having some time apart from your co-multiple(s) as an adult might indeed have made you more like your twin.

That said, whether we share 100% (identicals) or 50% of our DNA (fraternals, just like regular siblings) with someone else, fraternals and identicals are fellow team members. We face comparable challenges and growing up as a multiple is psychologically more challenging than growing up a singleton, whether you’re of the identical or fraternal type. More so than typical siblings, we need additional help in figuring ourselves out as unique individuals. Also, the many myths about what it means to be a twin makes it harder for all of us: many fraternals feel cheated of the status as ‘proper twins’ (no doubt this happens more in in France where fraternals are tactlessly known as ‘faux jumeaux’, meaning false multiples) and most multiples face the challenge of being constantly compared with just the one or two.

And, if you’re a partner of a twin or triplet hoping for some input that will help you understand the bond between multiples, it’s in here as well. You might like to jump directly to chapter 17 where I have tucked in anecdotes and research to make you immediately look more gently at your partner and where I also prove the Internet forum user ‘Twinhell’ wrong: the twin bond is not marriage kryptonite.


Worldwide there are more than 125 million living multiples. That is equivalent to the population of Mexico. So, who am I to tell you all of this?

Obviously, I don’t hold the answers to what it’s like to be a multiple. Partly because of the statistics at hand, which hold that a pair of identical twins is born every 50 seconds and reveal that one in 30 pregnancies results in twins while one in 1000 ends up as triplets.,

Add to that the fact that it’s not just down to whom you ask but also at what age they are when you ask them. The experience of being a multiple is not a constant, it’s a scale. And in my life, I have slid up and down that scale.

If you’d met me at sixteen, when I was finally on my own—on the other side of the world as an exchange student in Costa Rica for a year—you would never have known I was a multiple. It was a chance to be just me in the world—there was simply no way anything would be about the three of us unless I told people about my sisters. So I didn’t. Halfway into the year, when my triplet sister Mariann flew down from Guatemala, where she was an exchange student, for a two-week visit, people around me were startled.

“Whoa, I never knew!”

“What, there’s two of you?”

No, just the one, I recall thinking.

Yet, if you’d asked me about being a triplet at the ages of eight or ten, however, I wouldn’t have known what to answer. Self-reflection hadn’t kicked in.

“I’ve never known or been anything else,” I would have protested at your silly question before, depending on the day, also telling you:

– It’s so, so much fun. While Mum and Dad were out, we raided the cupboards and made six cakes. Two were actually edible.

– It’s rubbish. They beat me to our shared underwear drawer and only the bad pants were left.

– They’re both really stupid.

If you had asked the four-year-old me, I wouldn’t have understood your question. I know that for a fact, because a family legend says we came running home from the playground one day to tell Mum and Dad the news: “Did you know that we’re triplets?”

“Yes,” they told us, “we knew that.”

But, between the ages of twelve and seventeen, I was hyper-aware of the fact that I was a triplet. This was the time of my life when I was trying the hardest to figure out who I was in the world, while everyone else seemed content filing me under “the triplet.” I often thought of how much easier life would have been if I’d been a singleton, a fraternal twin, or someone else, anyone else, someone who wouldn’t have been mistaken for my sisters. Someone who would be seen. Someone who wouldn’t always be compared.

And today? Today I believe I won life’s jackpot.


Thankfully, my aim is not to speak on behalf of all multiples but to make you feel what it might be like to be a multiple, especially of the identical kind. Other books on twins and triplets, prime contenders being those written by parents, will contain vast more advice on the practicalities of twins and triplets than this book. That’s not my ballgame. I am here to shed some light on the psychology of growing up a multiple, and to do so from a child’s perspective.

In this book, you will find plenty of studies and facts, but I’ve carefully tucked in anecdotes as I believe you’re more likely to remember the advice I seek to share if I tell stories rather than just letting you piece together statistics and academic studies.

Now, a little caveat before we properly begin: Most of the stories I’m told about my childhood starts with the words “one of you”. Yet, this is entirely my story. And, just like life itself, being a multiple is a messy story, full of paradoxes we all happily live with.

So, here’s mine.


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