As soon as you announce that you’re expecting twins, you’ll discover that everyone has an opinion about your situation. Yes, everyone. Even those that have no actual experience with twins and multiples will counsel you as if they have a PhD in twin parenting.
Unfortunately, this can get overwhelming very quickly. How do you process all the parenting advice that you get from family and friends? How do you know what to listen to and what you can safely ignore?
You can still maintain relationships with family and friends while listening to their unwanted advice. Here are some things to consider as you’re buried in unsolicited parenting advice from others.
Remember that your family and friends love you and want the best for you. Their hearts are likely in the right place. However, their mouths may be saying something that is not relevant to your situation or even align with your parenting style.
Regardless of what advice others throw at you, be polite. Be kind. Focus on keeping your relationship intact. Try benign responses (even if you’re fuming inside) like “I’m glad that worked for your family.” “Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that before.” Or, “Thanks for sharing, I’ll look into that.”
Be grateful that others care enough to want to support you. Just because they give you advice doesn’t mean you need to actually take it and use it in your life.
Don’t Freak Out
Twin and multiples pregnancies and births are, by their nature, extraordinary cases. As such, many people will have heard crazy (and scary) stories about what is possible. And yes, they want to share those scary stories with you. Perhaps you’ve heard something like these comments:
- “My friend’s twins were born so premature they had to stay in the hospital for 6 months.”
- “My cousin was on bed rest her entire twin pregnancy.”
- “My coworker’s aunt’s sister-in-law had twins and she said that her twins almost died.”
Ugh. Really? Why do people have to always share the worst possible outcomes? Be ready for the extreme stories but remember that these won’t necessarily happen to you. In fact, the odds are that your pregnancy and experience will go much better than all the worse case scenarios.
Don’t freak out. For every crazy and scary story someone tells you about twins, there are dozens of happy and successful parenting stories. When complications arise, tackle the challenge in front of you. Don’t worry about all the possible bad things that could theoretically happen.
Google is Scary
Your first reaction to any advice you receive may be to go search online for more details. The problem is that this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone tells you about twin issues, that’s what you’ll search for and that’s what you’ll find.
- Do twins and multiple pregnancies have complications? Yes.
- Can those complications be severe? Yes.
- Will they happen to you? Not necessarily.
Google may know the fastest way to drive to your grocery store but it doesn’t know you or your twins. If you want to worry, go search every possible bad twin scenario online. If you want to have an optimistic view on what is coming, talk to those who know best. Seek out those who have been in your situation.
A Similarity to Your Situation
Whenever you receive parenting advice, ask yourself this question: “How similar is this person’s family situation to my own?”
If the advice giver is similar to you, listen carefully. If not, be polite but don’t feel obligated to take and act on that advice. Well-intentioned family and friends will pile good advice upon you. You have to sift through that to find the nuggets of wisdom.
In considering the advice you receive, think about the source:
- Do they have twins?
- Do they have similar parenting styles and views?
- Do they have children similarly aged to your other kids?
- Were multiples their first children or somewhere else down the birth order?
All of these possibilities mean their advice may or may not be applicable to you and your family. The closer someone’s situation is to yours, the easier it will be to apply that advice in your life.
First-Hand Knowledge vs. Hearsay
A witness in a court trial can’t testify about what someone told him or what they “heard” from another person. That’s just rumor or hearsay. Unconfirmed and not verifiable information doesn’t serve you in any way. You must filter incoming parenting advice and remove any hearsay or rumors.Whenever a family member or friend starts talking about something they “heard about” you need to take their advice with a grain of salt. Their advice might not even be based on a real situation or fact.
Do you want real-world, practical advice from parents in your situation? Talk to your fellow parents of multiples. This could be online in Facebook groups or at your local parents of multiples club.
Talk to Your Doctor
You’ll get advice ranging from health issues to parenting tactics. When it comes to the health of Mom and the children, your doctor knows best. Your doctor will be familiar with the ins and outs of your pregnancy and the health of your children. Your doctor will know your health history and that of the twins.
This basis of knowledge, combined with medical training, makes them uniquely qualified to guide you through the medical challenges of pregnancy and raising healthy multiples.
You Can Do This
Raising twins or multiples is a challenge. You’ll be wise to listen to those that have gone through the same experience as you. Just remember to filter the advice you receive so that you only use what aligns with your goals, parenting style, and family situation.
Joe Rawlinson is the father of four children, two boys and identical twin girls. He is the author of two books for fathers of twins, “Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins” and “Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.” Joe also makes unique t-shirts for parents of twins at the Twin T-Shirt Company. You can find more tips and tricks for preparing for and raising your twins at dadsguidetotwins.com.