Emotionally Healthy Twins
Should we give our twins identical presents?
Most of us would naturally give our non-twin children presents that reflect their talents, skills, and interests. But in our pursuit for perfect balance for our twins, it may not occur to us to do exactly the same thing—to buy a different present for each twin, a gift that reflects his or her individual predilections. Choosing individualized gifts for our twins tells them that even if they look very much alike, we don’t expect that they are the same.
What presents are appropriate for each age level?
For babies and infants up to two years old, it’s desirable to buy twins different variations in the same category of gift—for example, a stuffed animal, but two different animals, say a teddy bear and a dog or a rabbit. Keep in mind that the two stuffed animals should be of equal size, however, so that each child is reassured that both presents are of equal value. Need gift ideas for those little ones? LTD Commodities has a great selection for newborns and toddler gifts to give!
For two year-old twins you can begin to differentiate the gifts so that they match each twin’s interests and personality. But again, size is important, because twins will instinctively weigh and measure what the other is getting and compare it to what they are getting.
For toddler-age twins, books that reflect each twin’s interests are a wonderful present—say, one book about dinosaurs, another about trains. The key thing is to pay attention to what attracts your twins’ attention, to recognize the differences in what fascinates them as they explore the world, and to buy a gift for each that complements his or her particular interests.
Three and four year-old twins have a more defined idea of what they like. Some children may be drawn to television and video characters; others may be enthralled with dolls and action figures. It’s best to begin to differentiate presents at this stage, buying from two different categories—but be armed and prepared for the fallout that may occur.
What are the long-term benefits of buying individual gifts for twins?
Remember that you are sending an important message to twins about their life experience. Twins who have been treated as if they should be the same often live their lives expecting that they must maintain equality between themselves. This unspoken pact interferes with their freedom to be separate. The concept of equality and sameness needs to be talked about by twins and their families and replaced by a concept of twins as individuals.
The long-range goal
is that buying different gifts for your twins will be one of the
many ways that you give yourself and your twins the freedom to
expect and appreciate their differences.
Joan A. Friedman, Ph.D. is an
identical twin who has over thirty years of experience as a
psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of twin-related
issues. The mother of five children, including twin boys, she
lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband.
Published with permission from Da Capo Press / Lifelong Books.
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"Friedman makes sound arguments...her tone, while strong, is appreciative of the unique separation anxiety that twins face. A timely, important, and well-presented theory of parenting...Friedman might be the holy ghost of twin literature. As a psychotherapist specializing in twin issues, the mother of both twins and singleton children, and a twin herself, she comes to her topic with unmatched depth and breadth of experience." --Library Journal
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