Category Archives: Caretaking

When Does Being Needed Become a Liability?

I frequently point out that twins cannot be surrogate parents for one another; in other words, children cannot be parented by a same-age sibling. So I plead, ad nauseam, for parents to spend one-on-one time with each twin whenever possible and nurture their attachment to each child individually, not dyadically. Some twin pairs who spent their childhood needing each other struggle with recognizing their independent selves. In fact, their identities are contingent on providing the essential roles of caregiver and cared […]

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R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Twins who grew up in the role of the caretaker often struggle to not repeat that behavior in other intimate relationships. Even when a twin successfully discards this role with her sibling, she may consciously or unconsciously duplicate this behavior with friends, other family members, and significant others. An adult twin woman in her thirties, whom I will call Cherie, continually gets herself in trouble by putting the needs of her friends first. She has tremendous difficulty saying no to […]

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It’s My Turn

A stunningly intransigent aspect of the caretaker and cared for twin dynamic is the fixed roles reflected in the dyadic interaction. The caretaker’s sense of self-worth rests upon her success at lifting up her twin. An identical twin in her midforties contacted me because she was worn out, depleted, and depressed after years of caring for her twin, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder more than twenty years ago. She shared that her sister had been sickly since childhood and […]

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College Caretaking Casualties

Though the majority of calls that I receive are requests for advice, I had the pleasure of speaking with a female college-age twin about her journey of separating from her sister. I was delighted to hear how she and her sister have been approaching this subject honestly and mutually. Both women realize that their familiarity with one another has limited their ability and motivation to socialize with others. They recognize that they need to do more on their own and […]

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Do I Take Care of Myself or My Twin?

I received an e-mail from a college-age female twin whom I will call Molly. Molly reached out to me because she was feeling worried and frustrated about her relationship with her sister Maddy. Although Molly and Maddy were now in their second year of attending separate colleges, Molly felt ongoing concerns about their twin relationship. Molly and Maddy are the eldest children, with three younger siblings. Molly described that she and her sister were basically treated as a unit most […]

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