In our house, we have pressured our daughters Eden and Tal to be each other’s best friend. And it’s bad parenting. I know this now, after having interviewed more than 80 twins.
My husband is still coming along.
Two weeks ago, when Tal said her best friend “in the whole world” is Kinneret, my husband immediately corrected her. “No,” he said sternly, “your best friend is your sister!” Wrong. He’s just wrong here.
I had to remind him again: we are not to pressure them to be closer than they naturally would be as siblings. Here’s why I feel strongly about this.
Some twin interviewees told me that their parents would tell them that their twin is their best friend, no exception. And this made them feel awful when they just didn’t “feel it.” Because there is so much hype built around the twin bond, it seems almost unnatural for twins to not feel very close to each other. So if they are not close with each other, twins may feel abnormal, ashamed, or guilty.
Parents need to be sensitive to this. We need to alleviate the pressure. We need to recognize that siblings, whether the same age or not, sometimes get along really well and sometimes fight—and that is all normal. If your twins are not each other’s best friend, you have not failed as a parent and they have not failed as siblings. While having children who are emotionally close to each other is rewarding for a parent to witness, it’s not shameful for the parent or abnormal for the child when the twins’ bond is not very strong. For fraternal twins, in particular, they are simply siblings who happen to share a womb and birth date. Imagine if we expected all siblings (regardless of birth date) to be best friends with one another!
After discussing this at length with my husband, he seemed to really understand. I patted myself on the back for doing a good job of communicating this important issue with him. I was proud that I was able to convince him so effectively. The following weekend, however, he bought matching shirts for our daughters to wear:
*sigh* Some lessons need to be learned (taught) more than once.