Posted in: Adolescent Twin Dilemmas, Ask Dr. Joan, Babyhood, Dr. Joan Rants, Preschool, Sibling rivalry, Toddler, Twin bliss, Twins Mystique, Twins Stereotype, Twins and Parental Connections, Twins in the News, celebrity twins
“Using Emotional Intelligence to Raise Compassionate and Resilient Children”
Sunday, June 12
$40 Skirball Members
$30 Full-Time Students
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
In this seminar, participants learn to help their children become emotionally intelligent and find ways to express their feelings authentically and appropriately.
Through a keynote presentation and multiple workshops, participants will learn how to use Mindsight with their children to help them discover their feelings as a source of strength.
Techniques for cultivating resilience and well-being will be explored. The seminar will also enable parents and caregivers to strengthen bonds with children, leading to stronger families and communities.
Designed for parents, expectant parents, mental health care practitioners, and teachers, the program includes the keynote lecture and two ninety-minute workshops, Session A and Session B.
Dr. Joan A. Friedman will be offering a worshop during Session B, from 4:00pm till 5:30pm.
Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins
Facilitator: Joan Friedman, PhD, author of Emotionally Healthy Twins
Drawing on her experience as a twin, the mother of twins, and a psychotherapist specializing in twins, Dr. Friedman outlines seven key concepts for helping twins develop into self-realized, resilient individuals. Her current research about adult twin development will enhance parental awareness about twins’ ongoing emotional growth.
Posted in: Ask Dr. Joan, Babyhood, Preschool, Sibling rivalry, Toddler, Twins and Parental Connections, Why?
I was speaking with a mom of twin toddlers the other day that was lamenting the fact that her girls were no longer content playing by themselves. They both want mom at the same time now and are bent on outdoing the competition. Mom used to be able to placate one while she handled the other. Unfortunately, now the stakes have changed. If she is sitting with one on her lap, the other comes and rests her head “assertively” on mom’s knee, making it very clear that she is not pleased about her sister’s “top billing”.
I reminded mom that developmental stages just happen. Often we are so preoccupied with the everyday hustle and bustle that we don’t necessarily recognize the shifts and changes until we find ourselves right smack in the middle of them. Parents of adolescents bemoan the fact that it felt as if their beatific son or daughter turned into a surly adolescent over night! Something similar occurs with toddlers. Their invigorated sense of self and new felt autonomy changes the rules of the game. Parents need to understand the game beforehand so that they can be aware of the winning strategies. This does not mean, of course, that you will win by entering into a battle of wills. To the contrary, the emotional strategies that help you understand and communicate with your child will help to socialize and protect your forward moving toddler to feel masterful in a secure and predictable world. In addition, there is the challenge of learning how to evaluate which battles are worth fighting. Aside from issues of health and safety, many first time parents understandably struggle with figuring out what is important for their children within the framework of their family, the community, and their culture.
Dr. Jenn Berman has a wonderful new book called Super Baby. It is available for early order on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. Her chapters that describe how to handle an out of sorts toddler are excellent because they help parents understand a toddler’s emotional and physical struggles from the toddler’s age appropriate developmental level. Dr. Berman gives lovely examples about how to talk to toddlers, how to give them choices, how to set effective limits, and “how to say no without saying no”. She explains why parental predictability and consistency is key to a toddler’s healthy emotional maturation.
Parents of twin toddlers face additional challenges. Often they are required to make a decision that benefits one twin and makes it difficult for the other. Some expectations must be the same for both children in order for the parents to model consistent, clear, and unwavering behavior about specific limits and rules. For example, one mother told me that she had to take away the bottle from one twin because the other refused to use her Sippy cup when she saw her sister with the bottle. Another mom told me that she had to enforce the same rules for both of her sons about using the pacifier in order to quell the protests of inequality. It takes tremendous courage for parents of twins to make decisions that do not necessarily reflect the individual needs and wishes of both children. Usually parents of singletons are not so vigorously or repetitively challenged by their children about “unfair practices”.
While I believe that parenting the first time around involves a big learning curve for most couples, the additional commotion and complications of two at a time poses an extra challenge that is exhausting and depleting. The good news is that this stage does not last forever. In fact, these little dynamos turn into loving preschoolers who remind us about the infinite wonders of life all around us that we often take for granted.
Posted in: Adolescent Twin Dilemmas, Babyhood, Preschool, Sibling rivalry, Toddler, Twin bliss, Twins Mystique, Twins Stereotype, Twins and Parental Connections
Posted in: Babyhood, Twins and Parental Connections, Uncategorized
Recently I consulted with two mothers of twins seeking help to
understand why they have felt persistent guilt feelings since the birth of
their twins a few years ago. In both these cases the birth of twins was
spontaneous and natural – with no infertility issues. Initially, neither of
these moms relished the idea of having twins. Both felt robbed of the
traditional rituals and experiences that normally accompany the birth of a
singleton. One mom was enormously disappointed that her longings for a
vaginal birth were frustrated when the obstetrician informed her that a
C-section was imperative given the position of both babies. Moreover, after
the birth of the babies born at 37 weeks, she was not emotionally prepared
for their week stay in the NICU. As we spoke together about these
experiences, it became clear to both of us that her gnawing feelings of
self-condemnation and inadequacy were directly related to her inability to
give herself permission to feel anger and sadness about how much the twin
birth had disturbed and disrupted her romantic expectations about
motherhood. There was no one with whom she could share these expectable
ambivalent feelings. Sadly, twin moms often do not have access to others
that can empathize with the enormity of their situation while understanding
that these feelings have nothing to do with not loving or wanting their
children. Twin moms need this specific support to trust that negative
emotions associated with adjusting to motherhood do NOT erase or minimize
the love and concern they have for their babies.
Another mom spoke to me about feeling depressed and disconnected since
the birth of her twins. She shared a harrowing story of having to spend
months on bed rest in the hospital until she gave birth to her healthy
twins. She had been told that it was of the utmost importance to stay
positive during the hospital stay because becoming upset might induce
contractions. She had never had the opportunity to understand the emotional
impact of this experience. I explained that if traumatic feelings from past
experiences are not revisited and relived, our mind dissociates. In other
words, we push aside or “forget” threatening thoughts because it feels
enormously uncomfortable to think about them. However, the price we pay for
protecting ourselves in this way can develop into a self-destructive and
depressive quality that interferes with our feeling connected and adequate.
In many cases excessive guilt feelings cover up unconscious or conscious
feelings of anger and sadness.
I want to quote a few passages from a chapter written by a British
psychoanalyst named Dana Birksted-Breen published in a book entitled
‘Spilt milk’: Perinatal Loss & Breakdown, edited by Joan Raphael-Leff.
‘postnatal blues’ . . . relates to a state of mind surrounding a
physically and emotionally taxing major event, particularly if it took
place in unfamiliar surroundings and in an atmosphere of emergency, leading
to feelings of relief, exhaustion, heightened sensitivity to circumstances,
disorientation, etc. . . . women who coped well with the experience of
having a baby tended to modify their idea of what a mother should be like
from an idealized one to a more realistic one. Postnatally, a good mother
was now felt to need, for instance, to be diligent, hard-working, reliable,
and to like being at home with children. The women who did not cope well,
on the other hand, retained an image of a good mother as ‘loving’,
‘patient’, ‘unselfish’, ‘never losing their temper’, and they
felt themselves to be at odds with this image of the perfect, selfless
In conclusion, I would like to ask my readers to copy and paste the link
below in order to cast a vote for my book Emotionally Healthy Twins before April 1st because it
has been nominated for the DOUBLE UP BOOK AWARDS.
Posted in: Babyhood, Sibling rivalry, Twins Stereotype
We often “label” our children as a means of distinguishing each one’s personality, quirks, or differences. We innocently remark, “He’s very sociable, she’s a go-getter, he’s introspective, she’s a people pleaser.” However, in the case of twins, this naming or labeling frequently turns into an identity rather than a well-intentioned description. Twins struggle throughout their lives to find and define their uniqueness. Careless and thoughtless labeling by family and friends makes a challenging situation even more overwhelming.
With two same age siblings sharing mom, dad and physical space practically 24/7, neither twin has much of an opportunity to be known or recognized for him or herself. So, what often begins as a seemingly harmless distinction may turn into a long lasting characterization.
The other day I was speaking with a mom who has 2 1/2 year old twin girls and a one year old son. She described how one twin is very kind, maternal, and loving toward her younger brother while the other twin is angry, rejecting, and disinterested. Mother expressed concern that the “angry” twin was not behaving like her sister. I explained that most children have some sort of reaction to the birth of a sibling. In the case of twins responding to a new baby, there can be a definitive difference.
If one daughter covets the role of loving mommy toward her baby brother, what role is left for her sister to play? If she, too, acts as the loving mommy, she has one more reason to compete with her sister – this time for the attention of the new baby. If she does not feel like participating in yet another competitive struggle, she can devise a different and distinct strategy – which is to behave in an oppositional way as the hostile, angry, and unloving older sister.
I told this mom that I appreciated this mean-spirited strategy because the “angry” daughter refused to pretend to be a good girl; she was articulating her distress and sadness in an authentic way. I advised that mom attempt to help her daughter talk about her angry feelings with empathy and understanding and to let her daughter know that she understands how she feels and that things will get better. I also suggested that she take out her “angry” daughter alone so that she feels reassured that her angry feelings don’t make her unlovable; also taking her out alone with the baby will provide her with an opportunity to engage with her brother without being burdened by her sister.
The twin dynamic makes the sibling issue a bit more complicated. Parents seem more accepting about a singleton’s ambivalent feelings toward a new baby because there is no other child with whom to compare or judge his behavior. Parents of twins are consistently thrown into this world of compare and compete.
Parents who have worked diligently to carve out a separate attachment to each twin will feel better equipped to handle these inconsistencies with less guilt and fear that they are showing favoritism or special treatment. They won’t “label” their twins because they will understand this behavior is an adjustment reaction that will resolve over time - NOT a permanent personality trait that will distinguish one twin from the other.