Ask Dr. V, Private School and My Twins

Venus Nicolino holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Her column addresses Love, Life and Relationships. This week: private school and my twins.

Dear Dr. V,

I am the mother of twin boys. We live in Manhattan and we are a part of the private school educational system. However, only one of my boys has been accepted to the best private school and the other was rejected from the same school. They both were accepted to another private school but not as “prestigious” in reputation. I’m wondering what should I do? Should I not have either of them go for the sake of solidarity? Should my one son go to this prestigious private school and the other attend the less hailed academic institution?

When I spoke to the director of the prestigious private school regarding my dilemma and the potential problems this could create, she didn’t seem to care all that much, and I walked away feeling lucky that just my one son was accepted. My two boys are extremely close and have no knowledge of what has been happening with the schools. They were both accepted to the other, less academically regarded private school. I guess I’m just worried that perhaps, I’d be keeping my one son from greater opportunities and simultaneously causing my other son to feel “less than” … any thoughts would be most appreciated.


Dear Greta,

I empathize deeply with your predicament. I can imagine you’re feeling horribly conflicted over this, with no acceptable solution in sight. But rather than resign ourselves to accepting this situation as one of those moments where “the right thing to do isn’t the right thing to do,” let’s reconsider not just what avenues are open to your twin boys, but what actually is the reality of this situation.

First and foremost, YOU are the most important and influential teacher your children will ever have. The very fact that you wrote in concerning this issue is a testament to the fact that no matter where they go, your children will be educated and bright; they come from a home where education and knowledge are valued and honored. The strong foundation you provide them with ensures their success now and safeguards their future. You need never worry that one of your children would ever feel “less than” when they have such a nurturing, supportive and intelligent mother.

I was disquieted by your interaction with the school’s director, specifically how this person related to you. You may want to reconsider your perception of this particular school as “the best.” By whose metric? What exactly makes this school “the best?”

From your description the director sounded like a callous and indifferent individual. What does this say about the school as a whole, or their philosophy on education? What kind of culture and values are inculcated in the students? That they’re “lucky” to be there? To be honest, I would be more worried about my child attending an institution like this as opposed to a supposed “lesser” one. Just because this school is rated “prestigious” this year doesn’t mean it will be next year. The schools take turns with exclusivity, and by extension they take turns making parents feel insecure.

As I’ve said previously in response to a similar question from a concerned parent, exclusivity does not equal quality. If your only concern is that the private school isn’t hailed “the best” and you truly want your boys to stay together, then the so-called “lesser school” may be a better fit. You may want to talk to the director of the so-called “less prestigious school” again. You could prepare a list (mental or actual) of items that concern you in regards to the school’s curriculum, faculty and so on and address them. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised and reassured.

Whether it is beneficial or detrimental to separate twins or other children of multiple births in school is one of the most controversial questions in education today. Both sides of the argument make salient points in their favor, and the debate rages on. Many believe that when children of multiple births are separated it encourages them to grow into their identity as individuals, rather than being perceived by teachers and peers alike as simply “The Twins.” However, others believe that it is a distraction to the children not to have the sibling around. Regardless, the deciding factor in this should be your own intuitive understanding as a mother of the dynamics of your boys’ relationship. If you think that attending separate schools would throw their psyches into such disarray that neither would be able to thrive in the classroom, then perhaps you may want to consider alternatives to the “best” school of the moment.

As you move through the decision-making process, try to remember that all of this is transitory. Perhaps your son can apply again next year. Also bear in mind that as they grow older, new possibilities and opportunities for growth and enrichment will continue to present themselves to your children. Maybe your son did not get into this school because something better for him as an individual is waiting down the road and he needs to be open for it. You may find it helpful to speak with other mothers of multiples about your situation. If you haven’t done so already, you might find the Web site of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs website useful in making contact and finding support. The URL is

Ultimately you must be able to trust in your intuition as a mother, and know that the direction your heart points you in is the most appropriate to follow. Take comfort in the fact that the currents of the Universe are floating your children along on their individual journeys and all is happening exactly as it should. But also know that you are powerful and you have a choice; these schools are “lucky” to have you and your twins not the other way around.

With Empathy,


Note: All information in the Ask Dr. V column is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment, please feel free to email Dr. V, or consult your doctor.

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