As a parent of twins, I often wonder if the day will come when I stop being confronted with that still ever-present “twin-centric” decision making process. With two kids the same age, and in my case the same gender, my husband and I are always considering if our actions are “equal” or at least somewhat fair, so that one twin does not seem favored or feel left out. I’ve been in this game for 15 ½ years so far. Here’s what I’ve learned for teenage twins – five tips for your future…
“Fair and Even” are just concepts!
I grew up hearing from my own mother that “Life is not fair and nothing is even”. That’s actually helpful information when parenting twins. If I remember this, it does make it a bit easier to breathe through the when one twin is in the limelight and the other is not. I think the most important thing we can do as parents, is to help each twin find things that they are interested times in and good at (or wish to improve). This comes more into play as they enter the middle school years, with individual talents, motivation and interests becoming more apparent.
Teens push back – it’s normal
Psychology tells us that humans begin to differentiate from their parents and seek their own identity between the ages of 13-17. They push back, wear clothing you don’t love, and these days are constantly plugged into some device or another. It’s actually an exciting (an anxiety producing) time for any teenager, but especially for twins. They seem to have an extra internal desire to differentiate from their twin, and try out new ways of being that are exclusively their own. Encouraging this is essential, at the same time discouraging competition.
At 13, my boys each painted their own rooms with colors of their choice. Recently, one boy figured out that being a good dancer is worth a lot of brownie points with the girls, and is attending a swing dancing class. My other boy is memorizing a monologue and will enter a theatre competition. Identical twins may even request to attend separate middle or high schools, in order to be more recognized as an individual.
What if only one twin gets…? (fill in the blank)
When both twins are aiming for the same achievement, I always hold my breath and pray that we will dodge yet another twin bullet. It used to be – What if they both don’t get invited to the birthday party? Now it’s – Will they both get the scholarship? A role in the school play? A date to the dance? Will they both pass their driving test?? (Yes, it happens – one twin passes the test and the other fails it – and the parent is caught between wanting to celebrate the win of one and sooth the disappointment of the other). Wish me luck on this one come July.
The “Odd and Even” rule helps
As twin parents, we don’t have to luxury of the excuse that something happened or a request was granted because that sibling is “older”. One tip I learned from another twin mom is the “odd and even number” rule. Assign one twin the odd number and the other the even number. This helps when they have to decide whose day it is to walk the dog and other chores, and it helped when they were big enough to ride in the front seat of the car. I intend to use it when we need to decide who gets to drive the car. My advice is to start using this rule early on, and by the time they are teenagers it will be a well-known and acceptable answer to a lot of situations.
Constantly comparing the twins?
The most important thing to remember is that they are two completely different people, with different temperaments and personalities. Watch for the clues and as they approach adolescence and the teen years, help your twins to question and explore who they are as an individual. And if you’re like me, you’ll secretly pray that some things in life are actually fair and occasionally it comes out even.
About the Author
Carole Hanson LC, TLC’s Prepartum Associate for the San Francisco Bar Area, is the proud mom of teenage fraternal twin boys and a Certified Perinatal and Lactation Educator. She has been teaching in the Bay for over a decade, allowing her to pass on the “survival” tips and tricks that parents of multiples need, and encouraging breastfeeding whenever possible. Her passion is to provide valuable information to parents, helping them to prepare for the arrival of two or more babies at once, and to have realistic expectations about the first several months at home. You can reach Carole at firstname.lastname@example.org