With twins, one of the most common misconceptions is that one will do for two. Never mind buying two strollers! Never mind getting two cribs! They’re one, an extended unit; a baby, but in two bodies.
Twins are often lumped together, seen as one whole child with two faces and four hands. They don’t get to be individuals, especially when they’re infants.
When I found out I was expecting twins I freaked out because I knew nothing about raising one child, never mind two. So, I researched and read books and educated myself. One thing that I was determined to never do was give my twins a complex about not having a concrete individual sense of self.
As a mother, I was going to foster two strikingly independent personalities.
Admittedly, I went overboard when my twin girl were babies. They got one of everything. If Twin A got one thing, Twin B got the same thing – but, different. A different color. So they’d know which one belonged to who.
Food was, and still is, divided equally. The get the same snacks at the same time. Turns out, when it comes to toys, they actually swap them about more times than I can count. They argue over who owns what, too.
There is a natural order of swapping between them, one that I never thought would happen since most of what I read about siblings was about how constant the fighting over toys is.
Recently, the new Nintendo Switch console came out and my girls desperately wanted one for Christmas. I know Dr. Joan A. Friedman said not to teach twins to share, but when it comes to something so pricey like a new tablet or gaming console, sometimes one will have to make do.
Christmas came and went and we’re well into the new year, and my twins sharing a console didn’t cause the world to end. In fact, it’s actually taught them some lessons that they hadn’t had to learn yet.
It taught them to be patient when it’s someone’s turn to have something.
It taught them how to communicate their problems (Twin A was hogging the game, Twin B took the controller from me) to an adult (me) without having a tantrum.
It taught them how to work better together to figure something out.
It taught them that sharing can be fun.
It taught them that two people can enjoy the same thing at the same time without feeling like they were being left out.
It taught to accept that they can’t have everything (Parental Controls are used to restrict games that are for older kids).
It may just be the glitter of a new and expensive toy, but my twins are much better at sharing – not swapping toys around, but actually sharing. So. I agree with the advice that you shouldn’t teach your twins to share. However, you should provide them with the opportunity to learn how to share themselves. (But be prepared to mediate some inevitable fights. They’re still kids after all.)
This is a guest post. If you’re interested in contributing to Multiples Illuminated, please head to our submissions page for more information on how to do so and what topics we’re interested in publishing.
Emily Thompson is a neighborhood mom (and coincidentally a Cyber Safety Consultant) passionate about child and teen online safety and is a firm believer of building a loving and trusting relationship between parent and child through open dialogue, education, and monitoring measures (when and if necessary).