There are reports that parenting tweens is the least satisfying stage of parenthood. I went into the tween years wondering if having two tweens going through all of these ups and downs would be twice as hard or double the fun. My twins are 12 which makes it a good time to reflect on the tween years as a twin parent.
I remember reading a twin parenting book early on that stressed not to compare your twins. This is easier said than done but I did my best through their infancy and the toddler years. If one reached a developmental milestone first, I knew the other would reach it shortly. And, honestly, first words, first steps, or even learning to tie their shoe, are all milestones that they reached pretty much around the same time. What’s harder to figure out is the emotional ups and downs that mark the tween years. Is this abnormal tween behavior just because her twin doesn’t do it? Is it normal tween behavior just because both twins do? The tween years have been when it’s been most challenging but also the most important to look at each child as their own unique person.
One on One Time
This was one of the first tips I got from my Mothers of Multiples Club – make a point to spend one on one time with each of your multiples. When they were little, one on one time often happened out of the need to “divide and conquer;” although it was always fun to have some extra time with “just” one of them. The twin bond can be wonderful but as we headed into the tween years it was important for them to also have a strong parental relationship. Extra one on one time was a chance for us to talk to them as an individual tweens instead of as part of a pair. Plus, since one on one time was considered special, they were more open to it rather than the typical tween instinct of pulling away from time with Mom or Dad.
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Possibly the best part about having twin tweens is that they have been able to gain independence with a special twin safety net. When they wanted to try walking home from school by themselves, it was easier to say yes because they had each other. When they were ready to stay home alone for a short period of time, they could be home alone together. And when they complained about doing their own laundry they could complain to each other! Being able to send them off into the world together gave me a new appreciation for having twins.
Twice As Nice
The goods news is that parenting twin tweens does not have to be as bad as everyone says. When you’ve survived newborn twins on 4 hours of sleep, you’re pretty much going to be able to handle anything that comes your way.
About the Author
Alison Dobbins, TLC’s Prepartum Associate, is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area and the proud mother of identical twin girls. She credits the advice and example of the experienced members for her own ability to handle the challenges of twin motherhood – and the ability to enjoy the awesomeness that is being a twin mom! She’s held several leadership positions in her local Mothers of Multiples group and continues to help parents throughout the tri-state area. You can reach Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our Philadelphia and New Jersey area services.