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"Do they have very different personalities?"

Mike Johnson - TheBusyBrain.comThis is one of the most common questions I get from people about my girls. Ever since they were wee tiny little things people have wanted to know: “do they have very different personalities?”

On the one hand, it’s sort of a silly question: why should twins be more likely than any two siblings to have similar personalities? On the other hand, I suppose people wonder if two children who share a womb and are brought up side by side tend to become more like one another. Or, in the case of identical twins, if two kids with the exact same DNA would by extension have the same personality. (I’ve actually heard that identical twins are more likely to have similar temperaments, but I’m sure it’s not always so.)

In any case, the answer to the question as far as my twins go is YES! Clio and Elsa have very different personalities, likes, dislikes, tendencies, etc. They’re delightful in different ways and they act out / misbehave in different ways. They have plenty in common, too. But I’m far more fascinated by what they don’t. Honestly, since having these gals and raising them side by side I’ve become convinced that nature is waaay more influential than nurture when it comes to personality.

I believe my twins, in particular, lend credence to the theory that some people are just naturally dog people. (Not as in they are part dog. As in, they like dogs.)

I’ve never been a dog person. When I was younger, I was a little bit afraid of them. I didn’t like getting jumped up on, and hated getting licked or slobbered on by them. I’m not afraid of dogs anymore, and have learned to grow quite fond of individual ones. I see the appeal. But I’ve never felt drawn toward them the way some people — my husband, for example — are.

Can you tell which of our girls takes after each of us?

These were both taken this past weekend at Alastair’s parents’ house, where we spent Thanksgiving. They have two golden retrievers, one of whom is a little boisterous, but both of whom are really very sweet. Even I like them. Elsa adores them. Treats them like playmates. Seriously, you’d think the girl was a dog herself given how comfortable she is with them.

Clio, on the other hand, starts yelling “No! No! Go away!” if they get within three yards of her. (In the above picture, she is yelling at the dog to go away and not try to take her toast.)

At one point during our stay, Alastair and his dad were going to take the dogs to a park to run around and I was going to take the girls to a playground to do the same. But Elsa said she’d rather go to the dog park. So the dog people (and dogs) went one way, and the non dog people went the other, and we all had a pretty good time.

As Clio and I walked to the playground I confided that I wasn’t really big on dogs either. “We’ll help each other be brave, OK?” I said. She liked that.

Of course, not all of the differences between the girls’ personalities or preferences  are as striking or as perfectly diametrically opposed as this one. But when people ask how the girls are different, their pro/anti dog stance is something I frequently mention, because it is so dramatic. And because the polarizing force of dogs is so widely recognized. (And for the record, I don’t believe in the whole “you’re either a cat or a dog person” paradigm. Elsa and Alastair both like cats and dogs, as do many people, so let’s not go there, OK people?)

What about your kids, twins or otherwise? Or you and your siblings, for that matter? What are the most striking differences between them? And how do they feel about dogs?

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Lead photo: Mike Johnson – TheBusyBrain.com

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