A mom in the audience at the Multiple Births Canada Conference asked me my thoughts about her eight-year-old identical twin daughters sharing a friend. She related that this triadic relationship has been strong for a number of years. The mother’s efforts to arrange separate play dates for each girl have yielded minimal results. Another mom of six-year-old identical twin girls describes similar circumstances. She contends that her daughters have made friends with one powerful girl who directs their play. Both girls are happy to do what their friend suggests. Having a director who assigns each twin a role helps to minimize competition and maintain a balance. The competitiveness is handled by mutual sharing. Each twin is maintaining her connection to her twin while simultaneously allowing each other to be connected to a third person.
It reminds me of some young twins I knew who effortlessly shared everything without a complaint or hint of conflict. They inherently recognized that this was the only way to stabilize their relationship. Ironically, as adults, sharing a mutual friend turned into an unhappy and contentious situation. Both girls attended the same college. One of them made a best friend soon after she arrived on campus. When that twin left for a semester program abroad, her twin sister usurped the friendship that her sister had initially cultivated. Sadly, this event highlighted their underlying competitiveness that had never seen the light of day.
It is possible that some identical twin pairs will benefit from attending separate schools around the time of middle school. This is the developmental time period during which peer relationships and identity issues are formative. As diligent as parents are in their attempts to help their twins separate and individuate, identical twins struggle profoundly to discover their innermost selves. For some pairs, a physical separation can help create the emotional space necessary for psychological growth and maturation.
How have you or your twins negotiated shared friendships? Share your story in the comment section.
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