“To be loved equally, is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely – for one’s own special self – is to be loved as much as we need to be loved.”
~ Siblings Without Rivalry
When our twins were born, I quickly realized that the more I did with our babies as a set, the more validation I got as a mom. The average person would look on as I tandem breastfed and would marvel at my accomplishment. Merely navigating the aisles of Whole Foods with one baby in the cart and the other in a sling was enough to garner looks of approval and a brief adult conversation or two. All this was so needed early on that I actually feared taking out one baby and no longer being “special”.
On top of all of this, I firmly believed in the accepted ideas about how twins have been together in the womb for 9 months and need to stay together in order to adjust, that twins would rather be with each other than with anyone else and that they would always be best friends. What I didn’t realize is how important it can be for multiples to also be known for who they are as individuals, and not just as part of a set.
I worried at first that separating our twins would weaken their sibling bond, but somewhere along the way I realized that allowing them to have separate activities, play dates without the other, interests that were theirs alone, and time with mom and dad that wasn’t shared with their co-twin, would actually strengthen their connection with each other. Although this idea feels foreign to many parents of multiples, for me, it totally resonated.
Many things would be simpler for us if I didn’t put such an emphasis on individuation, but I want to give our twins the same chance at developing their own unique personalities that siblings of different ages have. Allowing our kids to choose separate birthday themes or to not eat the same meal as the other means a little more work for me, but these are simple ways in which I let them know that I am aware that they are two, distinct individuals.
Making our children’s individuation a top priority means things aren’t always “fair” in our house, which can be hard; but it gives us an opportunity to teach our twins about being kind to each other, recognizing and handling disappointment and developing their own personalities without relying on their sibling. Best of all, our son and daughter can celebrate the fact that they are twins, and also feel they are known and loved for who they are as individuals.
To learn more about twins and individuation:
- Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy For Parenting Two Unique Children by Dr. Joan Friedman
- Nurturing Individuality: A Conversation With Dr. Joan Friedman by Gina Osher, The Twin Coach
- Will Too Much Togetherness Affect Your Twins’ Individuation? by Christina Tinglof, Talk About Twins