Twins are different children, with different personalities – so how can parents cultivate that?
It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon and I am enjoying a friend’s new pool with my 2-year-old twins.
“I do big jumps, Mama!” my son calls to me with a wide grin. Then he plunges off their six-foot-tall water feature.
Meanwhile, my daughter clutches my hand tightly as she cheers safely from the sidelines.
“Good job, Miles,” she calls to him, flashing a huge smile.
Both are in their happy place … they just happen to be two different places.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I went through a series of emotions – surprise, nervousness, joy. But soon the shock and awe wore off, and my husband and I got used to the idea that we would be bringing home not one, but two, babies. I spent the rest of my pregnancy researching the logistics of having newborn twins. How was I going to feed two babies at the same time? How would I console them if they were both crying? How would I get them on the same sleeping schedule? What was all this baby gear for and did I really need two of everything?
The first year passed in a blur, as we learned the answers to all those questions and many more that we had never even thought to ask. But now that my “babies” are two and I have the luxury of thinking beyond day-to-day survival, I find myself wondering this: How do I raise Mia and Miles to be two unique individuals, while still honoring the special bond that they share?
Twins are different people. How can I parent to that fact?
My twins have had different personalities since day one. Born nine weeks premature, they spent a significant amount of time in the neonatal intensive care unit. There, my son was relaxed. He slept well, allowed anyone to hold him, and had trust in the world around him. My daughter was wary, watched everyone with a look of caution, and trusted few.
As they grew older, Miles was easy going and friendly. Today he is the life of the party, eager to make others laugh. He is a daredevil who makes me crazy with his desire to climb higher, jump further, and go faster each day. Mia was slower to warm to new situations and new people. She only shows her true intelligence and creativity to a chosen few and is much slower than her brother to leave my side.
As their personalities continue to emerge, what I already know in my head becomes increasingly more obvious:
Fraternal twins are no more alike than any other siblings.
But with two of the same age, going through the same momentous steps from babies to toddlers to preschoolers, there is always the urge to lump them together. I know that twins are different people — and I want to encourage that individuality.
I desperately want them to develop into strong, confident individuals, but at the same time, I love that they are one another’s best friend. I love that Miles can make Mia laugh like no one else can. I love how they sing and dance together, one jumping in when the other forgets a lyric or move. I love how they keep an eye on one another even while they appear to be each doing their own thing.
So when and where do I begin to treat them more as individuals and less as a unit? I honestly don’t know. I’m hoping that as they grow up the time for each to choose their own path will become clearer. But for now, I choose to snuggle them one at a time and together, treasure the on-on-one moments when I can, and enjoy watching two little people develop their distinctive personalities at the same time.
About Karyn Cole:
Karyn Cole is the lucky mom of 2-year-old girl/boy twins, Mia and Miles. After teaching elementary school for over 15 years, she now spends her days trying to enrich her class of two and organizing the chaos that is her household. After bedtime, she enjoys baking, crafting, and watching bad reality TV.
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