Double the fun, but also double the trouble — this is what many parents of twins say. All the attention is usually focused on how fun having twins can be; after all, twins do have quirky qualities that can often be amusing to see.
Of course, while there are many obvious similarities between these two individuals, there will also be significant differences.
The characters Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield from the “Sweet Valley Twins” series of books (arguably the most famous twins ever) are prime examplea. One prefers horses and books, while the other gravitates more toward boys and the Unicorns (not the horse-like creature, but rather the members of a popular middle school sorority).
When it comes to the challenges of being parents to twins, staying on top of the twins’ after-school lives is commonly brought to light.
According to Barbara Klein, Ph.D., the author of Twin Dilemmas: Changing Relationships Throughout the Lifespan, school-age twins (adolescents in particular) “want experiences of separateness from their brother or sister.”
This means that they seek out new and different friends as well as pursue activities that their twin doesn’t necessarily like. So after the children’s daily routine of attending classes in school, parents must manage the real differences that the twins freely display.
What are these real differences between twins, along with the after-school situations they encounter that potentially pose challenges for parents? Four of these are discussed below:
1. How the twins want to spend their free time
For example, one might want to pick up an outdoor sport and join a team, while the other might want to sign up for LEGO robotics classes. The difference in how they want to spend their free time is definitely going to be an issue.
If the sports academy is on one side of town and the tutorial center that provides the Lego classes is on the other, the schedules for lessons and training may overlap, and parents will need to solve this sticky situation.
2. Their different sets of friends
Many parents fail to easily comprehend the dynamics of each twin having his or her own clique. So, there are times when parents would naturally assume that the twins will be together to hang out at the mall or attend playdates or parties, but actually, only one of them is invited or wants to go.
This can create a strain on relationships and stress for the twins.
3. Their need for one-on-one time
Creating one-on-one time for each child may prove to be difficult for some parents. You are more likely inclined to deal with twins at the same time all the time, which may have the twins feeling like their individual needs do not matter.
4. The issues they face in school each day
These are some of the common problematic situations that twins may experience in school:
- Suspicion of conspiracy
All of these can be stressful for the twins and their parents to deal with, but there are practical and actionable steps to manage these challenges.
1. Create open communication lines.
When the twins are pushing for their individual preferences, sit down with them to discuss the problem and work on a solution together. They could either try each other’s interests to see if they might actually enjoy it or suggest they take turns doing their activities.
By opening communication lines, you may just find that they are willing to compromise and have ideas on how to make things work for everybody’s convenience.
2. Create a schedule board of activities for the twins.
This is a visual representation that twins are also separate individuals. They have their own groups of friends, different interests, and preferred activities.
The schedule board will remind them that each twin’s exclusion from certain dates or events in the other twin’s life does not translate to “lonely moments” or missing out on time spent together. Rather, they are opportunities for each twin to do what they want to do on their own, to explore, and to grow.
3. Spend one-on-one time with them.
Even if the twins like to spend time with each other, it’s important to remind them that they have their own value as individuals. This is why you must give each of them their own time with you.
One-on-one time with each twin will provide you a better grasp of who they are, what they are going through, and what they want to be.
4. Remind them that they should be each other’s ally at all times.
Support the loyalty your twins have for each other. Encourage them to stand up for themselves, especially when they are feeling attacked, criticized, or discriminated upon in any way by their peers or other people because they are twins.
In conclusion, seek information online and find new friends who are going through or have gone through these twin concerns that you have. You can benefit from each other’s experience and also support each other’s process. No matter how challenging raising twins can be, you won’t feel alone, and your family’s bond will become stronger for it.
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.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and five centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next five years. Connect with Premier Genie on Facebook and Twitter.