Last week, National Public Radio published a well-received article about the difficulties of twin pregnancies and possible postpartum complications. The piece also addressed the emotional consequences of parenting multiples.
My first book, Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children, was intended as a comprehensive guide on how to raise twins who were self-realized and distinct individuals. I wanted to help parents understand each twin’s emotional needs and cultivate their distinct selves while nurturing their unique sibling bond.
I was motivated to write the book after giving birth to my fraternal twin sons. Having had three singletons before my twins and feeling like an experienced mom, I did not anticipate the emotional and physical challenges unique to raising two babies at one time. I shared my experience of not feeling connected to either of my boys because the constant caretaking duties temporarily delayed falling in love with my babies.
Bonding with two babies at the same time and expecting to love them equally is more difficult than many realize. As I often remark in my presentations, I love all of my children; however, if I loved them all of the same, I would rob each of them and myself of the joy of discovering their individual qualities and temperaments. Fathers may also have difficulty adjusting to the birth of twins and embracing their special role. However, tensions can arise between the mom and her partner if the mom has difficulty acknowledging that she needs help or accepting help that may not be up to her expectations.
As an identical twin myself, I approach parenting twins with a distinct perspective. I devoted many years of my professional career to bucking the traditional stereotypic views about being or having a twin and trying to impress upon others that a more nuanced approach to the twin connection is imperative. I repeatedly stress the importance of providing each child consistent alone time and helping parents recognize the futility and dangers of attempting to provide a fair and equal childhood for twins.
Parenting twins is a joyful, special experience when parents successfully carve out mental space for two individuals and avoid the pitfalls associated with treating the twin relationship as a dyadic unit.