Aussie Parenting Advice
I recently read an article on the Internet about triplet families from Australia, and it referenced a book titled Twins: A Practical Guide to Parenting Multiples from Conception to Preschool by Katrina Bowman and Louise Ryan. The book was initially published in 2002, and a revised edition came out in 2014. The latter edition has a new section dedicated solely to triplets.
Immediately I ordered a copy and read it. The book is easy to read and organized from conception onward. I thoroughly appreciated the quotes from parents of twins discussing the emotional aspects of birthing and raising twins. Both authors, as well, share their personal experiences about parenting twins. Katrina Bowman has identical twin girls, and Louise Ryan has fraternal girls—both pairs in their early teens. Each woman is refreshingly honest and authentic about her reaction to finding out about the twin pregnancy and how she has learned to manage the consequences.
Katrina Bowman writes about how disappointed she felt initially about having twins. She shares a sentiment that many women may feel but are too ashamed to admit to themselves or others—feeling cheated about missing out on the experience of having one baby at a time. Bowman shares her reactions to the news of her identical twin pregnancy.
I have always felt sorry for twins. Having someone who looks just like you, always competing with you. They lose their individuality. I didn’t want my children to have that. I quickly realized that a large part of my distress was grief. I was grieving for the loss of a single baby. . . . I saw it as my job to nurture their individuality while not ignoring the twinship. But at the same time I felt jealous that they would have this bond while I must sacrifice everything.
I also very much appreciated the section of the book devoted to a discussion about expectations of motherhood. Bowman writes,
My feelings about motherhood were ambivalent. I loved my babies but I also resented what their arrival had done to my life.
One of my favorites of the many sidebars in the book is labeled To Help Your Twins To Develop as Individuals. Several of their suggestions highlight the same ideas that I present in Emotionally Healthy Twins:
- Address the children individually rather than as a pair.
- Present the children to others as individuals rather than as one unit.
- Reward them for their individual achievements.
- Help them to develop their own friends and interests, arranging opportunities for them to play with their peers without their twins.
- Arrange for them to have time away from their twin with separate outings and experiences.
These authors do practice what they preach. Katrina Bowman told me that her fourteen-year-old identical twin daughters were separated for six weeks attending different programs. This is my kind of twin mom!
My identical sister and I are “best friends”. We were raised as a unit much of the time. My mother often referred to us as “the girls”. She told us she felt lucky to have twins as she had had several miscarriages before our birth. I never felt that she regarded us as indivisible however. She also called us by our names, which are similar. We dressed alike and were often called “twin” in school until Jr. Hi. when we decided to dress differently. It was then that people began to refer to us by name. We had the same friends until college. I wonder why all worked out for us. I really never considered twins as a problem or something to be managed. It may be because we grew up in a time when there was not so much thought given to concerns about the wholistic development of children. I am not saying our lives were always without care. I would say they were much like anyone other children’s lives at that time and in that place.
Thank you so much for writing. I love hearing about twins who are “best friends”.