Twins

Once upon a time, giving birth to twins was often a complete surprise in the delivery room.  It is hard to imagine what it must have felt like when a family, especially for the mom on the table, was anticipating one new member and instead a second one arrived unforeseen. Expected or not, however, the event of producing multiples may have both the highs of excitement and the lows of total overwhelm.

On one hand, multiples are a treat for the eyes, cute as can be, and an attention magnet in public.  On the other hand, dealing with same age babies who have the same needs at the same time can be frustrating and exhausting.  It is also not uncommon for there to be health issues involved with the young babies which can tax the already stressed family financially and emotionally. 

For those that can afford help or those with extended family nearby, there is relief to be found.   Even with support in the early years, however, parents of twins will still encounter many unique issues that will not come up for  parents of singletons regardless of the number of other siblings and the gaps between their ages.

For example, the issue of comparison, though a common event between single siblings, becomes more focused and readily available with twins.  It is a real challenge for parents to deal with in the home and something they have no control over outside of the home with friends, family, school and total strangers.   It is easy to subscribe to the idea that a parent should just support and encourage each twin as being a unique individual.  It is another thing in practice.  It takes acute empathy, time and energy to keep in touch with how each child is doing.  Arranging for alone time with each twin and/or separate play- dates or activities is important and time consuming. 

Raising identical twins presents its own challenges.  They may have an expectation that all their achievements should be exactly equal because, after all, they look so much alike that people can’t tell them apart. When one twin is faster in a race or more popular at school, it can be especially painful for the other twin.

Another common issue can be the difficulty that twins experience developing separateness and autonomy.  Identicals are often extremely close. Metaphorically, they begin their lives married and require an amicable divorce somewhere in adulthood in order to establish their own identity and individualism and self-confidence.  That road may be very bumpy indeed though necessary for a fulfilling, emotionally healthy life as brothers /sisters who  take pleasure from their special bond.

Being a parent of adult identical twins myself, I can say that it was an exciting and challenging experience, often more than I bargained for, but ultimately sweet and rewarding.