Parenting Twin Siblings- as Individuals


My daughter and co- author Kali Cress Peterson had twins April 26. When we wrote Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships  we had no idea twins were on the way. So the October 2010 book about sibling forgiveness had no chapter on parenting twin siblings. Now- my love as a grandmother has spurred me to do some research in twins. I want to know how you raise twin siblings without future I hate you stories.

Part of my research has been hands on. I temporarily moved down to LA, where my daughter lives, to help care for the twins. So everyday and night, through the endless diapers, bottles and shifts to care for these boys (Dylan and Liam) I have been able to observe twins.

One thing I’ve learned, you must treat twins as individuals when indeed they are still twins. These are fraternal twins but they still have what twin experts call “ Twinness”. They shared the same uterus. So they have to be treated differently when they started in the same womb.

But the comparisons have already started with Dylan and Liam. One twin was bigger than the other in the beginning so family worried if he would be the dominant twin. It turned out at the last pediatrician visit both twins almost weighed the same. But this showed me how comparisons with twins can start right after birth.  So I have come up with some tips from my research to offer to parents of twin siblings to foster individuality and avoid future I hate you stories.  Here’s my first tip.

Don’t Compare Twins- Treat Them as Individuals
Parents, family members, and friends often fall into the trap of calling them “the twins,” “the boys,” or “the girls.” We have done this with Dylan and Liam.  While this may seem natural, it can leave twins feeling very unappreciated as individuals. Instead, what I am going to do now is always try to call them by their individual names. From my research I’ve found that you should try to switch around the order of their names when you call them: for instance, instead of constantly saying “Liam and Dylan,” mix it up a bit and call them Dylan and Liam, from time to time. This will put a stop to one twin from feeling as if he is always second best.

So don’t compare twins. Comparisons of children-like who got the first tooth, which walked first, who is the bigger baby, don’t support twins’ individual natures and can lead to future “I Hate You” stories.


About momlovesyoubest

Cathy Cress holds an MSW in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. Her new book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships , New Horizon Press, was published October 2010. Cress’s book , Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Jones and Bartlett, is the bible of geriatric care management and is out out in a third edition in February 2011 .Her book Care Managers, Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett,2008 is one of the few major books on the aging family. Ms. Cress is the founder of GCM Consult ,working with small and national who want to add or launch GCM businesses. She is on the faculty at the University of Florida in their on line master’s in geriatric care management -GCM . She has taught geriatric care management at San Francisco State University , UC Berkeley and teaches at Cabrillo College and San Mateo College. She was founder and director of Cresscare, a GCM business, for 25 years.
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