Advice columnist

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn! My son asked if he could take two of his closer friends for an outing to an amusement park for his birthday. One of the two boys is a twin. My son knows and is friendly with both, but has been in class and is closer with one of them.

Is it okay to invite just the one twin? We would take both, but then that would be three kids plus my son, and we feel that that is too many children at this age for us to keep track of at a large park. I also don't want to tell my son he can't invite this boy just because he has a twin.

If it is okay, how do I broach this with the parents, who are very nice people?

— Host

(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)

Host: Ask the parents, yes, and approach it point-blank: Is it okay to invite just one, since your son knows only one of them well? We were always grateful when people did — that way we could say, “No, they aren’t a matched set and we expect them to have different friends as any close-in-age siblings would.” We made sure we talked about this with the boys beforehand so they understood the bigger picture: that we saw them and treated them as siblings, not twins; that not everyone is going to include them both every single time for a bunch of different reasons; and it’s better for one to miss out here and there than for both of them to be excluded because we insisted on both or nothing. They got it, so it’s gettable.

It gets a lot more difficult when there’s a chance both twins consider themselves to be part of the same social group in question. When that happens — and when, in other words, being left out is likely to hurt the excluded twin — I think I can speak for all twin parents in requesting hosts to err on the side of inclusion.

As for this specific outing, I do have a practical suggestion: Not to second-guess you on what you feel comfortable with, but consider for amusement parks that seating is generally by twos, so bringing a group of three kids means one often rides alone.

Signed, Mom of Three Amusement-Park Goers

Re: Twins: As a twin, I hated being forced to do whatever my twin was doing just because we're twins. Yes, the children inevitably know the same people, but a set of twins is made up of two different people. Trust me, both twins will appreciate that your son realized they're not one person.

— A Twin

Re: Twins: If you ultimately decide to invite both, you might want to invite a parent, too, to help you with the wrangling aspect.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Yes, thanks — or just an extra adult, like a former sitter or family friend.

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