Parent-child relationships don’t fit into neat categories, but one thing is well known: if you are not happy expecting twins, your relationship with them may be more difficult later. If you are having difficulty coming to terms with the idea of twins, it’s best to admit your feelings honestly and seek help.
There’s no doubt that parenting twins is hard work, particularly in the early months when you’re suffering from lack of sleep, so accept all the help you can get from friends and family. Don’t feel guilty if you relate differently to each of your twins. At first you may not be able to distinguish between them or feel any love for them, but remember that your love will grow in time.
Watching twins develop is not only double the fun, you get the added bonus of discovering how they relate to each other. Within their relationship twins enjoy an instant audience, a forever playmate, non-stop stimulation and a degree of understanding that is hard to find outside a twinship. They are with each other more than with any other person, including their parents. Small wonder that twins can be very intense and exclusive at times. Identical twins can also have difficulty knowing which one they are.
Surprisingly, identical twins brought up together are less similar in character than identical twins brought up separately. It’s thought they show ‘couple effects’, complementing rather than duplicating each other, so one twin is dominant, the other submissive.
From the very start twins have to take turns so they learn to share and co-operate early. However, they may squabble more than other siblings, for myriad reasons, including egging each other on and competing for attention. This kind of behaviour is best ignored as far as possible unless anyone is getting hurt; some fighting is healthy as it’s part of growing apart.
Having twins means that the father has to become more involved in day-to-day babycare, leading to a closer relationship. However, some parents find that if the children relate well to each other, their need for parental approval and consolation is less, making them appear quite independent for their age.
Twins and language
It’s been known for generations that twins talk in a way that is slightly different from other children. Your child may of course be different, but as a rule twins’ language is six months behind: they talk later, in shorter and simpler sentences. They usually grow out of it but sometimes it can have lasting consequences, such as reading difficulties and behavioural problems. Major studies are currently under way to investigate the reasons for this, but parents can help language progress by making a point of finding the time to talk and read to each of the twins individually each day.