The Twin Bond: Respect, Reframe, and Revise

A few months ago, a lovely couple contacted me seeking guidance about their four-year-old identical twin boys. The parents reported that the boys’ daycare teachers had informed them that their sons were not listening nor cooperating appropriately. Naturally, Mom and Dad were concerned and attempted to get more clarification about these behavioral issues.

As our discussion progressed, it occurred to me that two salient factors were at play: first, the daycare center workers had no experience with or understanding about twin relationships; second, the boys appeared overly attached to and dependent upon each other. Both parents’ working at home and the boys’ lack of socialization opportunities during the pandemic contributed to the boys’ feeling incomplete without each other.

Allegedly, when one of the twins was reprimanded for failing to listen, he was given a timeout in a separate room that he called “jail.” Furthermore, when Dad had to be hospitalized for a few days with a medical emergency, the boys apparently acted out even more. Well, of course they did! They were anxious and upset about their father’s unexpected disappearance. I would have assumed—perhaps naively—that when childcare workers learn about a family emergency that destabilizes a family, they would be cognizant about the impact and be acutely attuned to a child’s behavior during this time. However, this was certainly not the case. The acting-out behavior was punished rather than understood as a reasonable reaction to upsetting events.

The parents and I ended our conversation with a targeted plan. First and foremost, the three of us agreed that the boys should be taken out of this daycare situation where they are seemingly treated as scapegoats. Second, both Mom and Dad are eager to help the boys separate slowly and sensitively from each other. We discussed various plans and strategies to implement these changes and transitions. As I have written elsewhere, it is not so much what you do but rather how invested you feel in accepting that healthy twinships reflect and require separateness as well as togetherness.

Photo by behrouz sasani, Pexels

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