Owing to the advances in the medical world, twins (or higher multiples) are becoming a lot more common in our society. Due to fertility treatments, a lot of parents are now having more than one baby at a time (sometimes as many as three or four babies!).
Parenting twins is one of the most wonderful joys and incredible experiences but having to care for two babies of the same age, at the same time is a monumental challenge – even for the most multi-talented of moms.
Besides being able to be in two places at one time and having an extra set of eyes in the back of your head, moms and dads with twins need to realise that although they may be very tempted to parent the twins as one – they must appreciate the fact that twins are two different individuals and they must be treated as such.
What to avoid, when parenting twins
- As tempting as it may be, do not look for names which rhyme when naming twins. They may have shared a womb for 9 months but the fact is that they are separate people and each twin should be given their own unique -sounding’ name. With age, rhyming names will also become troublesome for the twins – did you call -Jack or Zach? . A nice idea is to find names which have similar meanings, like Jonathan and Mathew both of these names mean -Gift from God . Use a baby-naming book or website to find names which are similar in meaning but which do not sound the same.
- When the twins are infants, moms can dress them up exactly the same, but when they grow older, let them pick out their own clothes. They may want to wear the same identical outfit, but usually they prefer to choose their own clothes and find their own style.
- Never compare twins. The babies may be the same age but this does not mean that the twins will sit, crawl, stand and walk at the same time. Each child will develop at their own unique pace and they will continue to do so, for the rest of their lives. When they reach school going age, parents should never compare their results or question Twin A as to why he or she did not do as well in Maths as Twin B!
- Schools prefer to separate twins in classes. Do not try to get the twins in the same class. With twins in the same class, one twin will rely on the other and will not develop to their full potential. When twins are separated they work better and they do not feel the need to compete with their twin brother or sister.
- As twins grow older, they will quickly learn to use their identicalness to their advantage, especially when they want to get out of a sticky situation. The dominant twin will be happy to put all the blame on the less-dominant twin. Parents of a pair of identical twins will need to brush up on their detective skills to figure out who did what! Don’t punish twins as a team – single out the mischievous twin.
- A form of discipline which works for one twin may not for the other. As in the case of regular siblings, one child may respond well to a -time out’ while another child may not. One twin may be very sensitive, while the other may have a carefree attitude.
Parenting twins as separate individuals will help twins to grow into self-confident people. Certainly parents of twins should also encourage the bond between their twins to continue growing after birth but it is just as important to encourage each twin to grow into a separate person who has their own interests (which may be separate from their twin’s interests).
Being a mother or father to twins (or any multiples) is an honour and a fascinating journey from conception to birth and beyond.
Interesting facts about twins:
- Identical twins share the same DNA, but each twin has their own unique fingerprints.
- A twin bond is one of the greatest bonds shared by humans – stronger than the bond between mother and child and husband and wife.
- There have been cases of twins developing their own special “language” known as idioglossia, which is nonsensical to an outsider. Due to this special twin language, twins are often late-speakers.
- On December 31, 2009 a mother of twins gave birth to one of a pair of identical twin boys at 11:59pm and the other twin was born on January 1, 2010 at 12:00 am.
- Twins run in the family, so if you are a twin (or your mom or grandmother was a twin, the chances are very high that you too will give birth to twins. This is not all together true. There is no gene for twinning. The only hereditary factor in twinning is the hyper ovulation trait and this results in fraternal twins. These twins are conceived by the fertilization of two different eggs and this could be hereditary. Twins do not skip a generation! Identical twins are a once-off and they occur when a single egg splits.
- Identical twins are always the same sex. Identical twins cannot be male and female.
- You can’t breastfeed twins. You can! A mother will produce more than enough milk for two babies and by using the -rugby ball method’ twins can be fed simultaneously.
- Last but not least; all twins are not identical.
It has been said that parents of multiples are personally hand-picked. As parents of these fascinating children (who have been fascinating humans for thousands of years) we owe it to them, to provide them with endless, unconditional love (no matter what they do or what they get up to). If you have just recently given birth to twins – prepare yourself for a non-stop rollercoaster ride and enjoy every moment of it!