Fostering closeness?

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Categories Development, Fraternal, Infants, Mommy Issues, Relationships, Toddlers

File this one under “crazy things I shouldn’t waste energy worrying about,” but I figured some of you guys would know what I’m talking about.

One of the many things people love to comment on when they see twins is something like “oh, they’ll always have a playmate!”  “Friends for life!”  But as someone who had a little brother quite close in age, and as someone who fought like cats and dogs with said brother until we finally hit college and lived in different states, I have to wonder…  Is simply being a twin any kind of guarantee that my kids will be friends? That they’ll be close to one another?  I know, I know.  They’re only 12 months old. They steal toys from one another and scream.  That’s normal.  But I don’t feel like they even seem to notice when the other isn’t there.

There’s plenty of cute interactions, of course.

"Sharing" (grabbing) the dog's toy.
"Sharing" (grabbing) the dog's toy.

If one is being tickled or otherwise having a giggle-fit, the other will start laughing, too, even if they’re in the other room.  They babble and laugh at each other when I put them down for a nap (adorable, but sometimes frustrating). But aside from having their cribs next to one another, we never really co-slept them like I imagined I would.  As newborns, my son was much fussier and often slept in the swing.  Putting them together didn’t seem to provide any additional comfort, so we didn’t really do it.

But I wonder… are there things I can (should?) be doing to foster closeness between my different-as-can-be boy/girl pair?  I know it’s developmentally rather early for them to really play together, but should I try to encourage more activities together?  Obviously, they’re pretty much with one another all day, every day.  I’m a stay-at-home-mom, so it’s only one parent to two kids most of the time.  There’s no such thing as only one of them going for a walk or going outside on the swings.  If one goes, we all go.

And does it really matter? My brother and I were together plenty as kids.  Only 17 months apart, there were several years when we were home most of the day together, and we shared a room up until I entered first grade.  No matter. My brother and I could scarcely be more opposite.  I was a sensitive people-pleaser who liked arts & crafts and cooking, he was aggressive and athletic, and a biter for nearly two years.  We get along pretty well now, but I wouldn’t say that we’re close, and there was a solid 18-20 years there where we hated each other so much I can practically taste it.

I guess I just hope that my kids really do have that “special bond” that everyone talks about.  I’m no fool, I know it’s no guarantee against slammed doors and fights.  But it would be nice to know that, at the end of the day, they still want the other one around.  And I’m sure it’s just one of those parenting/life lessons: there’s only so much you can do.  You can encourage, you can provide opportunities, and then I guess you sort of have to just hope.

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12 thoughts on “Fostering closeness?”

  1. I’m definitely in the hope category. I also think it’s a function of age. We never saw much closeness between Nate and Alex until they could say each other’s names. Now when they are apart from each other, they ask about each other. I think talking makes a big difference bc you can see what’s going on in their brain. Now you’re just seeing the physical interactions… later the verbal interactions make their emotions a little more clear.

  2. For the first year of their lives, I was pretty sure that Maddie and Riley didn’t care at all about each others’ existence. But at around a year, something clicked. I had never thought about why, but I think LauraC’s onto something in that their awareness of one another seems to coincide with their naming of each other. M&R call each other YaYa, I think from Maddie’s failed early attempts to say “Riley.”

    Ever since they have been YaYa to each other, they have been inseparable (not that they spent any real time apart before). Sure, they squabble over toys and push and hit like all two-year-olds. But they HATE to be apart. If I give one a time out, the other stands outside the door, ready with a toy, asking, “Go get YaYa?” If one gets up from a nap before the other, the one who is awake can do nothing but talk about the sleeping one: “YaYa still sleepin’. Wake up YaYa? Go get YaYa?” They hug each other and kiss each others’ boo-boos. They bring each other toys. I have never seen Maddie more panicked than one time when we were visiting my family and, because of the way the room was laid out, she couldn’t see Riley when she woke up in the middle of the night. She was hysterical. Sobbing. “YaYa! YAYA!” When I went in and picked her up, her heart was racing. As soon as I showed her Riley with a flashlight, she calmed right down.

    I didn’t do anything in particular to foster their closeness, although I’m glad they are so bonded. Who knows hhow long it will last; I expect their degree of attachment will wax and wane over time. It’s so fun to see though, so rewarding even if I did nothing to make it happen!

  3. I think it’s similar for us as for Laura and Snickollet. They talk about each other a lot now especially if they’re gone. Even when I try to do special one on one time we chat about the missing twin a fair bit. They try to comfort each other and often say things like “S come too!” or “J turn!” They still fight and squabble over toys. Or my lap. But they do love each others’ company.My sister and I (22 months apart) fought a ton growing up, but we also were each others’ built in playmates because we had no other siblings so we had to make up or be bored. I don’t think I’ve done anything special, it has just happened over time.

  4. I have to agree with everyone who has commented so far…we haven’t done anything “special” to ensure closeness between Maggie and Burke, but they definitely ask about the other if one is gone. And they get mad if one has an appointment and the other is left out (but that is probably because of FOMS – Fear Of Missing Something – rather than “closeness”)

    They definitely have times when they WANT to do things separately. Burke wanted to come in mommy’s orange car this morning while he mandated that Maggie stayed with daddy. (It didn’t happen, as I was going to work…) But for the most part they make sure the other is included in all plans. They’re even remembering Logan now!

    For the first year, year and a half – they didn’t really acknowledge each other at all. I remember getting giddy when they first played TOGETHER, rather than beside each other.

  5. You know I was wondering about this the other day. I think one thing that may be the difference is that twins have always had to share everything, they don’t know any different. When you deal with siblings, even if they are only so many months apart, one of them still remembers what it was like before the other one got there, and I think that makes for a different type of relationship. Right now, mine are only 4 months and the extent of their bonding is that the girl regularly manages to maneuver so that she can manage to kick her brother in the head as he looks confused…

  6. i am seeing a slow change in their closeness…but at 15 months it seems like a lot more interest is in fighting than loving. although they have started giving each other kisses and feeding each other lately, and i think mason said ‘ooooooo-wen at the park today. with it there is also the hair pulling, toy snatching and biting, ooooh, the sneaky biting. but i am hoping they are as close as maddie and riley, or as close as they need to be as they grow.

  7. Mine are pretty close at age 3 but still fight plenty! The only thing I plan to do to foster closeness is to try not to compare them and make them feel like they are in a competition. My sister and I were close in age and fought a lot and I think many of our issues had to do with feeling like we were in competition with each other (grades, sports, attention,…). So, I think encouraging them to do different activities so they’ll both have their chance to shine separately, can in the long run make them closer as they will be less likely to butt heads.

  8. Perhaps the trick with twins isn’t to foster closeness, but to encourage individuality (so as to foster closeness – get it?) The closeness just happens by virtue of being together all the time. At 16 months, my girls are really just starting to show that they give a darn when their twin isn’t around. Waking up from nap time before the other is when I notice it the most. Whichever one is awake will stand at the gate that leads up to the stairs and look at me like, “why don’t you go get my sister?” So, it will happen, but don’t be discouraged when you start feeling like they hate each other (as I often think when my two are screaming and hitting and biting each other).

  9. I have three sisters…2, 4, and 6 years younger ( and an older brother and a younger brother). Growing up we were the best of friends and the worst of enemies. As adults we are the very best of friends and I couldn’t imagine life without them. We had a VERY close family growing up and that continues to this day.

    My husband has a twin sister. They are not close at all and didn’t have a close family growing up. Not sure if that has anything to do with their closeness, just an observation.

    With my b/g twins I really hope to instill the importance of family and hope that they always remain close even through the many fights they will certainly have.

  10. Like many above, I think the closeness will come with time and despite the fighting. My twin girls only began to notice each other well into their second year.

  11. Sorry, just stumbled upon this website and have been reading a lot of past posts… great stuff, this site!

    And as part of a b/g twin set myself, I can honestly say that there is absolutely no guarantee that they will be friends or anything. I had two friends (g/g set of twins) in high school who considered each other “best friends” even though they were fighting constantly, while my brother and I pretty much hated each other until I finally upped and moved to Japan, got married and started my own life… okay, it has only been since September, but whenever we talk via webcam, we can still get angry and swear at each other, though we’re the kind of family (same with my older sister!) who will bicker for ten minutes and literally the fight will be over once one of us cracks a joke or starts laughing, and then we just forget about it and move on… only to have another bickering session begin a few minutes later. :) Honestly, it’s actually a good form of entertainment, and never thought I’d miss it like I do ^_^

    And as a woman who, one day, hopes to continue the family tradition and become a mother of b/g twins (I’m a twin, my cousins are b/g twins, my aunt and uncle are b/g twins, my grandmother’s mother was part of a b/g twin set, et cetera) myself, I hope that my kids turn out NOTHING like my brother and I did, because I can only imagine how annoying it was for my parents to constantly have to listen to it… >_<

    Hope yours don’t turn out like we did ^_^;;

  12. …Yeah, just to add something I forgot to mention, NEVER COMPARE THE TWO OF THEM and ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUALITY!!!

    Growing up, my brother and I had to share e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. We never got a break and the worst was when a) my parents would compare our grades and ask why one wasn’t as good at math as the other (and it wasn’t just school– it was pretty much for everything!) or b) when one child would get more attention from a parent or loved one than the other.

    For example (and please don’t think I’m whining, but this is very good advice for rearing twins!):

    When spending time with my father’s side of the family, it was hardest for me because my older sister had cousin #1, who was a girl and the same age as my sister and my brother had cousin #2, who was a boy and the same age as my brother and I. So I was usually the monkey that was left out.

    My grandmother would always take us out for days together, but since five kids was too much at once for her, she would take my sister and cousin out, then my brother and cousin out, and then JUST ME for a Sunday with Grandma!

    You have NO IDEA how great it was to spend quality time alone without anybody else with her, because it was at that time that I really got to know her and we became really close because she only focused on me.

    So with twins, be very careful to (especially when they’re older and they’ll start to have memories that they’ll actually remember when they’re 15, 18, 20, etc.) spend quality time with them each apart, because as a twin, you are always grouped with the other, and that’s a very hard and unfair way to live.

    So yeah ^_^ Hope it helps!!!

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