I am often reminded by my patients who have young twins how important it is to take note of the little things that parents can pay attention to in order to foster their twins’ separate identities. A mother of seven-year-old identical twin daughters told me the following story. Daughter A told her mother that she wanted to take a bath by herself, not with her twin. Her twin, Daughter B, became angry and belligerent, nagging her mother to let her bathe with Daughter A.
The mother who told me this story is tenacious and conscientious about being attuned to individuation. Although she could have given up the fight by pleading with Daughter A to share bath time with her twin, the mother braved Daughter B’s nagging and insolence by sticking to her guns. She told the distraught twin that her sister, Daughter A, wanted space and that she would have to deal with that even though she was upset.
How many times do each of us give in to one twin’s demands in order to make a conflict go away? Yet, these girls will grow to appreciate the importance their mother placed on focusing on each twin’s individual emotions and needs. In fact, their mother added this amusing anecdote. Daughter A, the one who insisted on having her own space, told her mom that she and her sister would not be successful at switching places in school and tricking their friends and teachers because they look so different. Whether or not that is true in light of the fact that these adorable twins are identical, the notion that this young girl is so confident in her individual identity is a joy and a testimony to the exceptionally attuned parenting she has received.
What “little things” do you pay attention to in order to foster your twin’s identities?