Every time I meet adult twins, it seems they always want to give me advice on how to best parent my 22-month-old identical boys. I don’t necessarily mind receiving these little tidbits, but it sure would be nice if they all agreed with each other! I hear things like, “Let them be their own people!” and “Don’t dress them alike!” and “Spend time alone with each of them!” This all makes sense to me. But, then I also hear, “Don’t force them to be separate!” So, what is a well-meaning parent of twins to do? How do I not screw up my kids? (Ok, how do I TRY not to screw up my kids?)
I have to admit that my boys do NOT get a lot of alone time with my husband or I. I had a great plan that we would spend an hour alone with each baby at least once a month, but even that small goal didn’t happen. The problem is, like many working parents, we don’t get a lot of family time – so when we have a free weekend, we want to spend it all together. I can count on my two hands the number of times my boys have gone somewhere alone with mom or dad. When I think about how much “alone time” a singleton (first born at least) gets with his/her parents, it makes me sad that my kids haven’t had that. It makes me worry about their identity development – growing up to perceive themselves as only a part of a unit, rather than as a whole person on his own. It makes me wonder if this is why their speech is a bit delayed – because for the majority of the time we talk to the both of them rather than one by himself, and because they communicate so well nonverbally with each other. Also, someone told me once that something like 40% of language that multiples hear is directive – like “No, don’t climb on that couch!” or “Leave the dog alone, it’s bath time!”
Of course, the boys love each other, and love being together. For the most part, they giggle and laugh and chase and wrestle together to their hearts’ content. It is not uncommon for us to see them holding hands while riding in their stroller, or to check on them at night and find them snuggled together in one bed. Asher always brings his brother his favorite stuffed animal, particularly when he is sad. Felix always grabs two pairs of shoes when we are getting ready to leave the house. Even with other peers, they have wonderful social skills for toddlers – they wait their turn, they share their toys, and they don’t grab toys from others. Would this be the case if they were singletons? I don’t know. I just know it makes my heart happy to see these things. And hey – we’re all doing the best we can, right?
How about you other moms of multiples, or even moms of more than one kiddo? How much alone time do you give to your kids?