While our multiples share a special bond, it is equally important that we encourage them to shine as individuals. One of the challenges faced by parents of twins, triplets and more is to foster the unique development of each child while encouraging the unique bond between their children. In order to assist their multiple birth children to shine as individuals, parents must encourage them to make individual decisions. This also draws attention to the need for immediate and extended family, friends, caregivers, educators and medical professionals to consider their interactions with the multiples; and reminds the media and general public to consider how they view and represent multiples.
For twins and higher order multiples (triplets and more) to grow into strong, independent adults, they must learn to make their own, individual choices. Sometimes being an individual means that the ultimate choices are the same and sometimes it means that the multiples will choose very different paths. The important note here is that the multiples have been able to make their choices as individuals and not as part of a set. We thank ICOMBO (International Council of Multiple Birth Organisations) for the information contained on these pages.
- Encouraging Individuality, a factsheet written by Multiple Births Canada
- Helping our Multiples Shine, written by Nancy Segal
- Twinship – an Emotional Seesaw, written by Joan Friedman
- Karen’s Story – written by a mother of twins
- Susan and her twin sons commenting on Individuality and Twinship
In 2013 we had the honour of hosting Dr. Joan Friedman at our Multiples NZ Conference (previously NZMBA Conference), hosted by the Hamilton Multiple Birth Club. She has given permission for us to share parts of her presentation with our wider community. Our sincere gratitude goes to TAMBA (our UK equivalent) for funding the costs of making these presentations available to our Multiples NZ Affiliated Members. Simply click on the image below to be taken to the Members Area of the website where you are able to access this file.
“Allowing twins, triplets and more to make independent choices starts at an early age. It is important to allow them to articulate individual likes and dislikes, which can be the same or different from each other. To encourage the multiples to grow as independent adults, listen to each person and assist them to make their own individual choices, and then support each child in their choice.”
“Twinning rates in western nations have increased dramatically over the last three to four decades. Recent statistics show that twinning rates have virtually doubled since 1980, reaching a high of 1/30 births. This increase is party explained by the fact that (1) women are delaying the child-bearing years, leading to increased fraternal twinning, and (2) infertile couples can take advantage of a wide range of assisted reproductive technologies to have families. All of this means that greater attention to the unique psychological and behavioral circumstances of twins, triplets and more is needed.
Twins grow up in tandem, sharing birthdays, school grades and many other experiences. They are often seen together, causing many people to view them as an inseparable unit. However, twins are individuals in addition to belonging to a unique and special twosome. Even identical twins who share all their genes show differences, possibly linked to early birth events or school experiences. Celebrating each twins’ individuality, while acknowledging their twinship, is a key goal toward which we should all aspire.“
Nancy L. Segal, Ph.D
Professor of Psychology
Director, Twin Studies Center
“Nurturing individuality within a twinship is a developmental process that requires attention and attentiveness. Right from the start it is important to think about twins as two babies who happen to be born at the same time. Spending time alone with each baby helps parents get acquainted with the babies’ distinct temperaments. It also facilitates bonding, which is quite overwhelming at the outset when caring for two babies. Feeling attached to both babies individually helps mitigate our natural tendencies to have preferences, make comparisons, and create labels.
As our twins grow into their distinct selves and we concentrate our efforts on parenting two different children, we must resist becoming seduced by the ‘twin mystique’. This term implies how easily we slip into embracing a romanticized notion of twinship. It is crucial for our twins’ emotional well being that we champion their autonomy rather than have them live up to the doctrine of best friends forever. If we can enable our twins to articulate some of the hardships and obstacles they confront, they will have the capacity to develop a simultaneous appreciation of separateness and connection. Ultimately this will put them on their path toward healthy intimate connections as adults.