Parents of twins who have older or younger singleton siblings often worry about how their other children cope with the twins’ attention-getting behaviors and public recognition. I recently spoke with a mom who has a middle school–age son and six-year-old twin daughters. She told me that she is frequently distressed when her son says mean things about his sisters and blames them for making him feel angry and frustrated.
As the mother and I explored this matter further, I realized that there were additional concerns besides the presence of the twins. While some children are naturally more affected by the addition of siblings than others, she was worried that the twins might be a major source of her son’s difficulties. However, as I listened to her describe her son’s challenges, his sisters’ presence did not appear unduly destabilizing to me. Her son struggles with some learning difficulties and sensory issues that make his adjustment to academics challenging. When he becomes upset, he predictably takes out his frustration on the girls and his parents.
I shared with the mother what my spouse and I did to help our three older singletons adjust to their twin brothers’ popularity. We spoke often about the hardships of being a twin. These topics are rarely addressed since most of us are so caught up in the uniqueness and cuteness of the dyad. We seldom talk about how it feels to always be compared; how one has to share time, love, and attention; and how challenging being one’s own person can sometimes be. The underbelly of twin fame and fortune is not always apparent. A more balanced approach to these dichotomous issues would be tremendously helpful to families as a whole and enable twins to develop a more realistic understanding of their attachment.
Image courtesy of AdinaVoicu