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ask joan During the Q&A session following one of my recent presentations, a mom in the audience asked my advice about how to handle an uncomfortable situation she was experiencing with one of her four year old twin daughters. She related that one daughter was thrilled about every opportunity to spend alone time with her. Mom described joyful outings eating lunch together and going to museums. However, when it was the other daughter’s turn to have her special time with mom, the child screamed, refused to leave the house, and clung to the nanny. Naturally, this mom was upset, remorseful, and angry about the fact that her daughter was rejecting her. Mom asked me if I thought she should just let her daughter stay home, with the hope that the situation would change over time. I adamantly clarified that these circumstances warranted immediate attention and intervention. I said that she must work hard to get reconnected to this daughter. I suggested that she begin to spend time alone with her daughter at home for small amounts of time, especially in the face of expectable tantrums and rage. I told her that the compliant daughter should leave the house with the nanny while mom spends time alone with the 74

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agitated child. Little by little if she feels that mom understands and tolerates her feelings, they both can reconnect with more love and understanding. I cautioned mom that this would take some time. Also, I emphasized how helpful it would be if mom could articulate what her daughter might be feeling, such as, “I know you are upset, you want to go with the nanny, but I love you and want special alone time with you”, etc. If not handled sensitively and promptly, the girls will grow up with enormous resentment toward one another because one will be labeled the good twin and her sister’s identity will be organized around being the bad, unlovable one. The divisiveness between them in the face of mother’s overt preferential feelings will be emotionally devastating for everyone. Unfortunately, a good/bad schism between the girls already exists, and this dilemma has to be confronted and remedied sooner rather than later. It is so crucial to fight for a connection to twins, trying hard not to compare them and appreciating each one for who she is. For more information and professional advice on parenting twins, consider learning more about Dr. Friedman’s practice and her current book Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children. Dr. Joan A. Friedman is a psychotherapist who has devoted many years of her professional career to educating twins and their families about twins’ emotional needs. A twin herslef and having worked through her own twinship challenges and parented her fraternal twin sons, she is a definitive expert about twin development. She is the author of Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children. Her second book that is now available, The Same but Different, addresses the intricacies of adult twin relationships.

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Multiplicity Spring 2014  

Raising multiples in non-traditional ways with articles on military families, life as a single mom, discussing racism with your kids, teachi...

Multiplicity Spring 2014  

Raising multiples in non-traditional ways with articles on military families, life as a single mom, discussing racism with your kids, teachi...

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