In my workshop about adult twins at the Multiple Births Canada Conference in Edmonton, one mother shared her grief about her twins going off to college.
She recounted that her twins were conceived on her last and final IVF attempt, and they have truly been a gift. Other moms in the group had diametrically opposing outlooks. They were looking forward to a lifestyle liberated from child-rearing concerns and responsibilities. Having personally experienced separations from my children as well as counseling others through their journey, I recognize that there are a vast wide range of responses to children leaving home. It is interesting to speculate about how the IVF component adds a slightly different perspective to the separation for some families.
Recently, a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “New Help for Homesick Students on Campus” by Sue Shellenbarger reported that homesickness is a distinct emotional condition akin to grieving. It can cause or worsen anxiety or depression and increase the risk that students will drop out of college. Homesickness is not simply a childish failure to separate from Mom and Dad. Rather, it involves a complicated set of feelings related to missing home and longing for predictability, routine, familiarity, and comfort as well as the feeling of fitting in, being safe, and feeling loved.
The author mentions specific strategies that students can utilize to manage these upsetting feelings. Apparently, cuddling therapy dogs has proven an effective method to help reduce stress and anxiety. As I have mentioned repeatedly, the additional task of separating from one’s twin adds another challenging dimension. Multiples who have not been separated from one another before—and who have relied on each other to manage social and academic demands—will face additional hurdles when they go off on their own.
How have you dealt with twin separation as a parent or a multiple?
Image courtesy of liz west at Flickr.com.