It’s true. If you want to know the real truth about raising multiples, then ask a parent with twins, triplets or quads. I have always known this but recently while trying to figure out what to write for this blog post, I had an “ah-ha” moment: “Why not let the parents speak?” Since starting this blog more than four years ago, I’ve had hundreds of parents leave thoughtful comments (for the most part) on the posts I’ve written. So I’ve decided for this week’s post, I’ll turn it over to them and provide you with the best of the best on a variety of parenting twin topics. Read on for their insight. (Please note: I’ve edited some comments for grammar and brevity.)
Your advice is exactly what pregnant twin mamas need to know. I especially agree with asking for help from friends and family. I am grateful for the meals delivered by my best friend and sister, and the laundry done by grandma, and the gardening done by my sister, and the walks grandpa took with the boys in the stroller. My obstetrician told me that anyone who enters your house is either doing dishes, laundry, or cooking. He was so right.
I have a son and twin girls. Time and time again, when we would be out, everyone would pay attention to the twins and not “Big Brother.” When strangers would ask the twins’ names, I would always respond with, “Hailey, Madison and this it their Big Brother Mason.” I would always in some way include him in the conversation. I agree, they can just get lost in the shuffle.
My singleton is just 18 months older than my twins (all boys!) and now at ages five and three, respectively, it is interesting to see the different relationships develop and change. My twins have always been very close but one twin has developed a strong relationship with his older brother, too. I agree with your advice to mix it up often—getting them out separately is important. And, we often have sleepovers for each twin in his big brother’s bedroom or one twin get to take a bath with big brother, etc.
I am (now grown-up) younger sibling to twins. We are all girls. Growing up I knew no different—it’s my ‘norm’. My sisters and I were always fairly close, and the age gap seemed unimportant as we grew older (and still even less relevant today). Naturally my sisters always had each other to share new experiences, they always had a partner to play/gossip/fight with. I can remember times when I was overlooked, couldn’t be involved or simply wasn’t needed. But every sibling experiences this at some stage. Interestingly, it wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I, with the help of a counselor, started to understand the implications of my unique sibling relationship, that it HAD impacted my personality (for good and bad) and self-esteem. Of course, environmental factors and other family dynamics all play a part. But I wanted to share my experience so that mothers of twins with (especially younger) siblings can be alert and aware. I’m not sure it’s something my mother ever considered or thought about. The upside to the age gap with my sisters is that I had my mum to myself during the day for five years while my sisters were at school. Thinking back, I’m sure this was crucial in helping my feel special without needing the validation of specialness that comes with being a twin.
Our first big clue that my di/di boys were MZ (identical) was that their blood type is the same. At their four month checkup, their pediatrician said that she thought they were starting to look alike and recommended that we do the DNA test if we were curious. I’m glad we did the test. There are practical reasons for knowing if they are identical—we’ll be able to tell if one of them falls behind developmentally, we know they are cool with being on the same schedule (naps, feeding, etc), and tend to like the same things. It’s amazing how their teeth came in the same order, they started crawling within days of each other, and even started walking within an forty-five minutes of each other.
I don’t mind the “Are they twins?” question. General twin questions are fine. But it’s the subsequent PERSONAL questions and comments that drive me crazy. I have boy-girl twins, with my son growing significantly slower than my daughter. Almost without fail, the “Are they twins?” question is followed by, “Really? But she is bigger than him.” The response I WANT to say is, “You got me, they are not twins, I was just tricking,” or maybe “Wow, I hadn’t noticed that.” Or the truth, “You’re right. We are not sure why he is growing at a slower rate but it worries us a lot. We are following numerous medical avenues and only hope that it is not something serious.” Instead, I grit my teeth and answer, “Yes, she is.” I have found this short, simple answer stops further questions. I don’t think you should stop talking to twin moms. But I have stopped asking “Are they twins?” and instead I say something like, “Aren’t twins great? How are YOU coping with having two babies?”
Why should a twin get a “benefit” a non-simultaneously born sibling wouldn’t? Creating an environment wherein twins feel “entitled” to special treatment is a dangerous thing indeed. While it hasn’t been my favorite parenting task to explain to my twins that you cannot always do everything your brother/sister does, it’s been an invaluable life lesson in learning, “You can’t always get what you want!” Coping is a great skill to learn early; delaying it due to “twindom” or sheer inconvenience is a parenting cop-out, in my opinion, making it much harder later in life.
My girls were very close in ability and when they tried out for volleyball their freshman year, they both made JV, but one was chosen to “swing” to Varsity. My twin that didn’t get chosen was disappointed. I told her I understood, but wasn’t she happy for her sister? I thought her reply was priceless, “Not right now, but I will be.” And true to her word, she was her sister’s biggest fan and supporter. They went on to play all four years together in volleyball—one as a setter, and one as a middle. It’s a tough lesson, but one that children do survive and grow from!
I just experienced this exact situation last night. Both my daughters tried out for select soccer, and I knew there was a possibility that only one would make the team. Sure enough, I received a call from the coach who was concerned about choosing only one twin. I was very appreciative of the phone call, but I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to hold one twin back simply because her sister didn’t make the team. My daughter that made the team really wanted to play and I explained to my other daughter that she could continue to play recreational soccer and try out again next year. She was fine with it because I made it okay for both of them. Although I felt good about my decision, my husband did not agree with it and I started to second guess myself until reading your article. Thank you, thank you! I would like to forward to our coach too. Maybe it would make him feel better about having to make these tough calls!
While I always planned to stay home with my children, until the day my twin girls were born, I worked full-time. I had been extremely career-oriented for eight years, and I quickly realized, I really didn’t know anyone locally outside of the business world. Couple that with the demands of multiple infants—when even going to the post office takes major planning, or orders from the doctor to keep premature babies out of public for X weeks or months—a new MoM (mother of multiples) can easily feel isolated. Therefore, I’m so thankful to have found a group of other moms—all mothers of multiples—many of whom I now consider amazing friends. It’s important for me to get out and about, and it’s important for my twin girls, too. I also underscore the importance of a double stroller! Once I got the green light from the pediatrician to leave the house, and got a little more comfortable with the logistics, even a trip to the post office could do a mama good.