Archive for July, 2010

Singleton Siblings of Multiples

Posted on July 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I received this message today:

I’m 52. The impact that my twin sisters have had on my life is trememdous. As a child through high school, they hurt me over and over….not intentially. Halfway through high school, I “learned and embraced” their twin relationship, and that worked into adulthood. Now, they are still inclusive with one another and exclusive to others, including my children and my Mom. I find them to be selfish, self-centered, and caring only about each other and each other’s children. The rest of us can rot in hell. Oh, they’re kind, but it’s a image. Do I sound angry? You betcha!  I lived with it but I’ll be damned if I will allow them to do the same thing to my children!
And here are my thoughts:
You didn’t leave your EM address so I am answering you here and hope you receive my thoughts.   I am so sorry for your pain, both for your own and that for your children.  As a mother myself, I can understand the depth and breadth of your wish to protect them.  I don’t have any definitive answers but I would like to offer a couple of thoughts, which hopefully may help you, even partially, understand about their relationship.  A multiples relationship IS a challenge.  Multiple-birth children are bonded from conception and their bond preempts the parents, other siblings and in some cases, the multiples’ ability to have other in-depth relationships other than with each other, including with spouses and sometimes their own children.   A woman recently wrote regarding the death of her twin aged 45 years and her “loss of her best friend and confident in this world” and she complained her husband would not let her speak of her sister nor support her in her grief.  She was upset by this and completely unaware that due to her overriding relationship with her twin, her husband had signed on for the back seat, always behind the twin sister and was resentful and no doubt now hoping to be No. 1 in his wife’s life.  This speaks volumes of a cloistered and very sad focus that some multiples, even inadvertently, foster to the detriment of anyone else, including spouses.  What chance might other siblings have if even those chosen as life partners don’t feel important or included?
52 years along, parents are more aware of the challenges respecting their multiples’ bond so focusing on teaching each to be individuals with separate interests and goals, is helpful but it still doesn’t always work out in spite of informed efforts.   Obviously I am not aware of how your childhood worked out, but I believe parents have some say in the matter by encouraging individualism with their multiples such as splitting them for sleep-overs, play dates, separate classrooms, sports, music and so.  Just because the children are multiples does not mean they always have to be together.  Helping them focus outside of themselves is essential for many reasons, some of which you have stated yourself, most importantly the multiples may not be the only children and parents have a responsibility to ALL their children.  I am left wondering how that played out in your house.  If your parents did not teach all of their children how to include others and what exclusion feels like, then your Mom may be now paying for this oversight by being excluded herself.
With respect to how your children are being treated/ignored by their aunts, consider having an honest conversation with your children but try not to let your anger/hurt lead the discussion.  Address how hurtful exclusionary actions can be and here are good examples.  Address alternatives to the exclusion so that your children can understand that leaving others out for any reasons, can be hurtful.  Share with them that your sisters are making choices and it is about their behaviour and not theirs.   You might wish to share that you felt left out growing up but I would encourage you, once again, to not let your own feelings, which are justified, lead the discussion.  You have a right to your feelings and if you feel it might work for you, consider some professional counselling.  You deserve some peace around this issue and its outcome and to know it is not your fault but a result of the circumstances of their birth, and if I can hazard a guess, perhaps your parents parenting style as well.  Twins were a novelty 50 years ago and their “cuteness” and “sameness” reenforced rather than the fact  they were also individuals.
I recently read an excellent book, One and The Same by Abigail Pogrebin published by Doubleday.  Abby is a monozygotic (identical) twin and she writes about the challenges and joys of her relationship her twin sister.  If you thought it would also help you understand a little more about the burden (yes, it sounds to me as if your sisters are burdened by their twinship) they carry, give it a read.  In truth, you are freer than they are and based on what you are sharing, I would believe that sadly they are very limited by their relationship.
Enclosing very best wishes,
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