I recently gave a presentation to the Phoenix Valley Mothers of Multiples. Thanks to the terrific event-planning skills of the organization’s workshop coordinator, the attendance was wonderful. Most notably, many dads and a few grandparents were present. I was surprised to learn that many of the families had identical twins. Usually, the numbers skew toward fraternal sets. This conference was advertised as a child development event, so I was more than thrilled to talk about my unique understanding of twin psychology. As is my custom, I spoke primarily about the importance of the parent-child bond, relegating the twin attachment to secondary status. I emphasized that spending alone time with each twin—however and whenever possible—facilitates each twin’s developing individuality and sense of self.
I also discussed how attempting to treat each twin identically is impossible—and more importantly, unhealthy. “Life is not fair, and twins are not equal” is my perpetual mantra. To feel comfortable with this mindset, parents need to get in touch with their individual feelings for each twin and develop a capacity to hold space for conflict. To drive this point home, I shared anecdotes from adult twins I have treated who suffered tremendously because they grew up assuming their life experiences would be a matched set. When this did not happen, each twin suffered from guilt, resentment, and disappointment. Creating resiliency early on is a significant objective when raising twins since they will grow up in an environment imbued with competition and comparison.
One of the moms raised a question that enabled me to share another point I often emphasize with audiences. She stated that one of her five-year-old twins wanted to attend kindergarten separately from her sister, who wanted to stay together. The mom cited many studies she had read that advocated keeping twins together under these circumstances. I responded that each individual case should be examined on its own merit. I inquired if mom thought that the twin who wanted to be in her own class would be very upset if she attended with her sister instead. The mother said no. So, I suggested that she keep the girls together for kindergarten and plant the idea of being in separate classrooms the following year. The important variable to consider is whether separation or staying together would be traumatic for either child.
I deeply appreciate groups of parents like the Phoenix Valley Mothers of Multiples, who are open to learning about different perspectives. I am grateful to be heard and recognized.