My ‘Hey-Man-Whatever' Approach to the Teen Twin Bond
Since the moment my obstetrician told me she was hearing two separate heart beats at a routine check-up more than 15 years ago I have been worried. As parents, that’s kind of our natural state of being, isn't it? Once we found out they are di/di (meaning 2 sacs and 2 placentas) I stopped worrying so much about my pregnancy and started worrying about motherhood.
Two babies at once. How would I manage that? At only 20 years old, was I even qualified to raise twins? The short answer is no. I was not. But, like all new parents, I stumbled through the best way I knew how.
With twins, we get another level of worry. It's an extra layer. On top of the usual worries, we wonder when/if their relationship is being nurtured, but not to the point of damaging either child.
In the younger years, we toss and turn at night, fretting over when to split up their toys and give them separate rooms. We worry if one seems to bulldoze over the other. We wonder if they should be getting more alone time with Mom and Dad.
I know I became used to people without twins telling me what was best for my babies. “They say each baby needs one twin-free morning per week with Mom, or else…….” they would say. Or “you know you can’t let them be together past preschool. They say it damages them.”
First of all, who is ‘they’ that everyone keeps talking about? Secondly, since when are singleton parents keeping up with the latest twin studies? Am I the only mom who didn’t consider extensive twin research as bedtime reading before finding out I was expecting my own set? Maybe so, according to all these experts. I basically just followed my own instincts, good, bad, or indifferent.
My girls are in high school now and sometimes those comments have become downright critical. For example, some say I shouldn’t let them participate in the same activities or be in any of the same classes at school. To be honest, I have even done a bit of my own research to ensure we really aren’t damaging them beyond repair.
We have spent more than 14 years kind of letting them call the shots regarding their relationship. Within reason, it’s been up to them for the most part. When they wanted separate rooms we flipped a coin to see who moved. When they decided they wanted to be in separate classes for 1st grade we met with the principal and split them up. When they decided later that same year that it was a terrible mistake, we met with the principal again and got them back together for 2nd grade.
I have always figured that if they were siblings who aren't twins, I wouldn’t force them together or apart, so why would I now? Maybe we’re doing it all wrong. Who knows. They’re not quite 15 years old so I guess technically, the jury's still out on this whole child-rearing gig.
But they seem happy and well-adjusted. They have tons of friends and interests that don’t revolve around their twin. Above all else, they really are best friends. Their bond has never wavered. They love each other in a way I cannot possibly understand. I take that as a sign that letting them run the show hasn’t backfired on us yet.
One of my girls decided to run track this year. Earlier in the school year, she ran cross-country without her twin. About two weeks into preseason practice, she got it in her head that her sister might do well with it herself and began her campaign to get her on board.
All three of my children are aware of the house rule we imposed regarding activities. Each kid has to do one activity per year. We don’t care if it’s a sport, club, or art class. They just need to do something. With my twins' freshmen year half over, they both knew that meant she was running out of options. So, during the 2nd regular season practice, they both became runners for the track team.
My runner twin got her sister to agree by telling her, “Mom will make you join the paper or something if you don’t pick something on your own now.” Relieved, but a smidge insulted, I took her to her sports physical and got her the athletic paperwork signed for the coach.
At first I was concerned that there would be problems or resentment, as she would be relegated to “twin” status again. I worried her twin would feel overshadowed by her sister picking up “her” activity. I basically made them more competitive with each other in my head than they really are.
I have watched more than one practice and while they always look for one another on the field, they often head off in opposite directions and compete in different events.
I guess you can check back in 10 years and we can call my ‘hey-man-whatever' approach to my kids' twin bond a success (or a failure). For now, I’m just grateful to have the girls I have. I’m grateful they actually want to spend time together.
And even more than that, I’m grateful that they appreciate each other and have the bond they have. We are certainly looking forward to seeing how this relationship continues to transition as they become young adults.
Megan Loden is a stay at home mom to twins (identical 14-year-old girls) and a 10-year-old son. Megan, her husband, and kids live just outside of Phoenix. Her writing can also be found on Bluntmoms, sammichesandpsychmeds and scarymommy. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
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