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Double Identity: Raising Well-Adjusted Twins

Batya Ravitz

We Are Twins, But Who Am I? Such is the title of a book on the topic of the individuality of twins. Society loves nothing more than the adorable look of mirror images. Yet, is such an image healthy for twins? How can parents help their twins to support one another, complement each other yet remain the distinct individuals that they truly are?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Twins bring double (at least!) the work, enjoyment, and fun, but also double the dilemmas of how best to raise them — questions that parents didn’t encounter with children born one at a time. How does one deal with the inevitable comparisons? How to avoid a situation in which one twin is dominant and the other’s personality is repressed? Should they be separated, and when?

“When I was told that a new baby was going to join our small family — which until then had consisted of my husband, I, and two-year-old Sari — I was filled with eager anticipation,” says Shira, today a mother of five. “I already knew that joyous as it is, caring for a baby isn’t a rose garden. We’d gone through colic, crying spells, sleepless nights, teething, fear of strangers and of the dark, and many of the other bumps that come along with being parents. So we felt emotionally prepared to go through it again.

“As we started to prepare for the birth, we chose names, for a boy or for a girl; we discussed when to tell Sari, where to put the crib, and so on. And of course, I thought a lot about how the new baby would look, who he’d resemble, when he would smile, whether I’d be confident enough to dare to bathe him myself those first few days; whether I should buy new baby clothes, or pass down Sari’s clothes…

“Then everything changed — we were told that we were expecting twins. Was I happy? It’s impossible to answer that question with a yes or no. I was in such a state of confusion that there was no room for any emotion, including happiness. I was simply in a panic. Everything that I’d known about babies until then was about one baby, and suddenly — here were two of them expected at once. I just couldn’t grasp it.

“Hundreds of questions were racing through my head: How can a mother bond emotionally with two babies at the same time? How can two hungry mouths be fed at the same time? How do you go anywhere with two babies? And … two cribs! Where are we going to put two cribs in our small apartment? And, wait a minute, I’ll definitely have to buy them more clothes! Sari’s baby clothes won’t be enough for two. So should I buy identical outfits, or not? How can we prevent competition between them? Will they each develop their own identity, as they get older? The questions kept whirling, threatening to suck me under. ”


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