And, even though I’m the mother to a set of them I often forget that they are identical. They are always Luke and Will to me–with seemingly very different personalities. But every once in while I’m struck by some similarity that has nothing to do with looks. For instance, when I went to school conferences a few weeks ago, Luke and Will, who are in separate classes scored almost identically in reading: their instructional level as well as their challenged level were exactly the same.
Of course you might suggest that they were read the same books and were parented the same way at the same time, but according to this article from National Geographic, A Thing or Two about Twins, identical twins are more identical twins than in just appearance.
I think the idea that astonished me the most in this article was how much the research of identical twins–especially with identical twins who have been raised separately– is showing the HUGE role that heredity plays on a person’s development–whether it is IQ or a propensity toward criminal behavior!
I was also amazed to read about the research, again with fraternal and identical twins, into epigenetics. Epigenetics is the theory of developement of how our genes and our environment interact over time to change our genetic expression.
The article does a much better job in describing this process.
“If you think of our DNA as an immense piano keyboard and our genes as keys—each key symbolizing a segment of DNA responsible for a particular note, or trait, and all the keys combining to make us who we are—then epigenetic processes determine when and how each key can be struck, changing the tune being played.”
By studying twins scientists are hoping that they can determine what “markers” might be turned on environmentally to cause challenges such as autism or ADD or even alcoholism–diseases that we now know are heritable.
My take-away from the article: Parenting is absolutely important, but there are also genetic factors that seem to play just as important of a role. In one way, I’m like, phew–relax and let children develop the way they will. Each is born with special gifts and propensities and my “job” is to be aware and nurture those gifts.
I’d love to hear if you’ve had any instances where your twins were more alike than in just appearance.