The Difference Between Twins and Singletons: There’s Strength in Numbers

With the end of the school year just two weeks away, my kids have been attending a lot of celebratory school banquets and parties lately. For instance, just the other day I drove my singleton son to a student council dinner taking place at a downtown restaurant. Neither my son nor I had ever been to this particular eatery before and didn’t exactly know where it was. “Just drop me off here,” he said when I stopped at a light, “and I’ll just walk.”

“Don’t you want me to park and help you find it?” I asked.

He looked at me as if I had two heads. “Nope.” And before I could say anything else, he opened the car door and quickly got out. I watched him cross the street and hurry up the sidewalk. He turned the corner and then he was gone.

I pulled my car over to the side of the road for a moment debating whether or not I should drive around the block to check to see if he found the restaurant. Then I caught myself. “This is silly,” I thought. “He’s 14!” But why was I so anxious for him?

Then it hit me. When his older brothers—his older twin brothers, that is—were his age and just beginning to venture out on the town alone, they were often together. Yes, when it comes to parenting twins, for better or worse, I’ve taken comfort in knowing that there’s strength in numbers.

My fraternal twin sons have always shared many of the same friends and often hang out together. Although I encourage each to be his own man and go his separate way—and they do—I can’t deny that my boys are in fact friends and enjoy each other’s company. Therefore, it’s not unusual for them to head out together on a Saturday night. I know my teenage twins have each other’s backs and would never ditch the other in a time of need. As their parent, I take great comfort in that knowledge.

Knowing that they are together has allowed me to loosen the parenting leash a bit sooner, a big bonus in their eyes as many of their friends’ parents aren’t so lenient. For instance, a few years ago when they wanted to take the Metro downtown to Chinatown, I didn’t hesitate. The same when they asked if they could attend Coachella, the three-day music festival that around here is considered a teenage right of passage (although they never saved the $349 each to buy a pass). You know that restless feeling you get sometimes wondering if your child made it to his destination safely? It’s not an issue for me when my twins go out together. I do, however, feel it when my singleton ventures out alone with his friends.

redhead twins with baseball capsAnother advantage when they’re out together? They keep each other in check. When one twin comes up with a harebrained idea like getting in a car with an under-18 driver, the other often acts as the voice of reason, pointing out the consequences (i.e. the wrath of Mom) if they get caught. If I need to get in touch with them and one doesn’t respond to a text, the other surely will.

Although I sleep better knowing when my twins are out on the town together, there are some definite drawbacks. Namely, I worry that they’re not going to be as independent as their younger, single-born brother. My singleton has no choice but to head out on his own as he doesn’t have a doppelgänger as a side kick. And there’s a lot to be said for his going solo as he’s learning self-reliance, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Although my twins seem to have their shit together, I still can’t help but wonder if their friendship will ultimately stand in the way of them becoming independent men. After all, research indicates that some twins, especially tightly bonded MZ or identical twins, have a much harder time with individuation since they must learn to not only separate from their parents but from their cotwins as well.

So, sure there’s strength in numbers but for twins is that a good thing?

Time will tell.