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COURSES: SUMMER 2011

Parenting Seminar

“Using Emotional Intelligence to Raise Compassionate and Resilient Children”

Sunday, June 12

12:30–5:30 p.m.

ADMISSION

$50 General

$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.



Everything You Want to Know About TWINS!!!
This event is a wonderful opportunity to learn about twins from an emotional, sociological and biological perspective.
If you still have unanswered questions, feel free to visit me at my book signing after the panel discussion.
Where: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Lenart Auditorium
When: Tuesday, May 18 @ 7:00 pm
RSVP: darwin@socgen.ucla.edu or (310) 267-5471
Admission: Free (parking is $10)


Recently I received an email from a despondent adolescent who was depressed and angry over the fact that no one seriously believed that being an identical twin might in any way account for his dissatisfaction with his life or himself.

He expressed that he felt odd, misunderstood, and sad because he believed that he had never had any opportunity to develop, create, or shape his own unique self. He said that his angst over these issues was dismissed as foolishness and self pity by his mother and his therapist. The teenager’s attempts to differentiate from his brother by doing separate activities were thwarted by his twin brother who ended up copying and mimicking his actions. There was no parental intervention to stop this interference or sabotage.

This boy feels adrift and isolated with his frustration and sadness because he is trapped in the “idealized” world of being a twin. Certainly, those people who have fantasized about being a twin or having a twin might readily dismiss this twin dilemma and understand the boy’s state of mind as reflecting expectable adolescent struggles. However, this is far from the emotional reality of many adolescent twins.

Imagine how troublesome it must feel to want to be your unique self and yet feel terribly unsure and conflicted about your own identity. Throw in the additional variable that the price of being your true self might come at the expense of the most significant attachment that you have. How does a conflicted adolescent cope with his or her longings for separateness and self-definition if it means the loss or alteration of the most important attachment figure? So often the twin who dares to separate is perceived as bad or wrong, and this projection creates enormous guilt and struggles for the teenage twin attempting to wrest himself into some sort of individuated person.

Do not underestimate the impact of a twin relationship on your adolescent twins.

While identical twins often have a harder time given that they have been treated as an indistinguishable unit for most of their lives, fraternal twins also have difficult obstacles to overcome. Fraternal twins frequently differ significantly in terms of their sociability, academic successes, and athletic prowess. While some sets of twins find a workable balance, many struggle needlessly because their parents do not acknowledge that the twinship can create difficulties.

One mother I worked with was exceedingly reluctant about considering the option of putting her fraternal teenage girls into different high schools. While it seemed perfectly obvious to me by virtue of the mom’s reporting that each girl was suffering tremendously by being compared and interdependent, she appeared reluctant and uncertain to provide each twin with what she needed because of the sanctity of the twinship. Reluctantly, she adhered to my advice on blind faith since she could not bring herself to acknowledge that the twinship had become a toxic attachment.

The girls are doing beautifully in their separate schools and she is forever grateful for my advice and counsel.  Again, this is another instant which substantiates my belief that parents of twins have to make important decisions for their children - the twinship cannot be such a powerful entity that decides how lives should be lived.



A heartfelt congratulations and welcome to Angelina and Brad’s newborn son and daughter – healthy fraternal twins! However, let’s not allow celebrity births to minimize the realities of raising twins…

What is not brought to light in these star-studded reports about twin births are the real life day-to-day emotional and physical hardships particular to raising twins. I know that many moms of twins have no forum or outlet to feel validated for their sacrifices and challenges.

So, to add a bit of balance, here’s my list of my top ten twin parenting challenges that impact moms who are raising twins:

  1. Surviving an uncomfortable pregnancy filled with anxiety and fear times two
  2. Deciding if you can withstand the social challenge and pressure to breastfeed two babies
  3. Feeling guilty and heartsick about not feeling bonded in an equal way with both babies
  4. Harboring murderous feelings toward your partner who got you into this mess in the first place
  5. Secretly ruminating about how you can feel so upset and disappointed after you have spent thousands of dollars on infertility treatments
  6. Silently envying how your friends who have just one baby can juggle their lives with such ease and meet a friend for lunch
  7. Acknowledging that having preferences does not mean that you love one twin more than the other
  8. Hating to ask others for help because you wish you could feel masterful and competent on your own
  9. Wanting to kill the curious people who ask you the dumbest questions about twins
  10. Managing the constant comparison and labeling of your twins by well-intentioned friends and family who are not into “individuality”

Of course, as usual, all feedback and comments are welcome! Am I on target or am I just way off base - have any of you mothers (or fathers) of twins ever felt any of the above?

To Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins,

Dr. Joan Friedman



A mom of two and a half year old twins explains that one daughter cries whenever mom attempts to take her out alone without her sister. Her daughter yells and screams and protests that she does not want to leave her sister at home. Mom feels angry and guilty about this situation.

She feels badly about the fact that her daughter misses her sister but at the same time resentful that her daughter is unwilling to spend time with her alone – without her sister present. Mom reports that her other daughter exhibits none of these behaviors when she is separated from her sister. In fact, mom notes that this daughter relishes the time alone without her sister present.

How do we understand this dynamic? Sometimes, one twin is more attached to her twin than to her mother.

Thus, the over dependent attachment to her twin is an attachment to mom via proxy. Parents need to understand this dynamic and attempt to make some restitution. While it’s exceedingly difficult to see one of your twins longing for the other, there is an important developmental lesson to be learned.

The intense separation fear has much more to do with an insecure attachment to mom and NOT unrequited love for one’s twin.



Parents of twins often feel like dreadful failures if their twins are not close. Do they need more reasons to feel inadequate?

Most parents hope that their children will be close; however, some parents of twins seem to assume or expect that closeness is part and parcel of the twinship.

I do understand how this expectation is created.

It is another manifestation of the “twin mystique” – a mindset which defines how twins should feel about one another. While it may seem counterintuitive, the more latitude and permission that you give your twins to have ambivalent feelings, the more psychic room you are providing to articulate, manage, and negotiate predictable conflicts that most siblings encounter.

Remember, often in the course of human interactions familiarity breeds contempt. Are twins exempt from these feelings just because they have that special twinship bond? I don’t believe so.

I do firmly concur that twins share an undeniable intimacy that is viable and authentic.

In my opinion the healthiest way to nurture this special bond is to foster free expression of twin differences so that they are free to love one another as individuals instead of feeling obligated to love one another because they are twins.

Food for thought? What do you think - do twins have to be best friends?



joan2.jpg“Don’t twins always want to be together?” This single inane question emanates from the mouths of the educated elite on down.

The Harvard educated high school college counselor cannot understand why my twin sons are applying to different colleges and why they make such a big deal about adjusting their schedules so they have separate classes. “I don’t understand this”, she mumbles incredulously, “don’t twins always want to be together?” Even the University executive vice president is shocked to learn that our son’s twin is attending a different college. “Don’t you realize that there is a discount for twins who are roommates?” he says to us.

Sadly, however, it is parents of twins who seem most outraged by our decision to send our sons to different universities. Our sons were aware from an early age that attending the same college was not an option. Although we recognized that some viewed this stipulation as mean, unfair, or unhealthy, my husband and I did not want our sons put in the position of having to decide this for themselves.

Parents of twins who have not recognized and nurtured their twins’ needs for individuality and separateness cannot tolerate the notion that their twins’ might want or need to be on their own. One parent I know sabotaged her twin daughter’s desire to have a separate college experience by urging the other twin daughter to apply to the same college after her sister had already been admitted. Months later she contacted me wondering why the twin who was admitted first was enraged with her sister and refusing to speak to her.

Parents, educators, and society at large need to revamp their mindset about twin togetherness.