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



7 Comments

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Like you, I am very happy for the new twin parents…as I am for any new parents of twins!

While there are without doubt many challenges (and yes, some more daunting than others!) to carrying, delivering and raising twins, I can honestly say that if I viewed those challenges as genuinely “burdens” or perceived the twin-family life “realities” as negative (as you seem to intone a bit in the above, maybe I’m reading too much in…), than they would be!

Personally, all of those challenges (and again, some are more challenging than others!) are not so awful as to make the “reality” of life with twins something that merits dread and anxiety.

As a mother of twins (now 6), I have confronted in some context/to some degree the elements that have motivated the writing of each of your line items above; but really, think the list is WAAAAAAY too skewed negatively. With twins I really think not only is the glass half full, it’s FULLY full. The list above makes it not only feel half empty, but fully empty!

In my opinion, raising twins IS hard, but not a hardship.

Comment by Cheryl on July 14th, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

I’ve felt at least 4 of those listed. Of course we are asked tons of dumb questions, which I try to keep an open mind about and graciously answering, because I didn’t know anything about twins until I had mine. But the thing that irks me the most is when the “gawkers” will completely ignore my singleton as if she were invisible.

Comment by Corinne on July 22nd, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

Oh brother, did you get it right. Actually, you also forgot overwhelming exhaustion (I did breastfeed, which certainly contributed to the exhaustion), getting tag-teamed by growing newborns, feeling jealous of others who are able to focus on and actually satisfy and coddle just the one baby - the list goes on and on.

When people ask me what it was like to have twins, I struggled with something positive to say for a long time. Finally I settled on the following: “it’s exhausting to have twins, but it certainly looks like fun to be a twin.” I realize it isn’t all sunshine for them either, but the person who is asking doesn’t really want to know the real answer, they are looking to make pleasant conversation.

I love my twins, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m grateful that they are boy and girl, so that they will be compared less. I put them in different classes at school, and try to make sure that they get different teachers regardless. We also don’t overtly balance what they get: they are just too different (frankly, my son is mildly autistic and my daughter is not - so different approaches are critical). I deal with them entirely as separate people, because - my GOD, they are definitely different people. But they still take a very physical comfort in each other, even when they are angry and yelling how much they hate each other (for the record, we are not allowed to say “hate,” because it is hurtful, but we’re allowed to WANT to pound each other so long as we don’t actually pound each other).

They are siblings. Very different people. They have a third sibling that also gets into the mix. But when they enter a situation that worries them, I see the little hands flick out and grab onto each other for security. I’m glad of that.

Comment by Bad mommy on September 24th, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

I am merely 11 weeks pregnant with twins and I already relate to everything on that list! Thanks for validating those feelings and helping release the tears that have been bottling up about them.

Comment by Bridget on August 1st, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

I just found your blog, and am so happy to hear your educated point of view. I especially identify with point #6…when old friends from work wonder why I don’t take the subway downtown with my 14 month old twins to visit, I just can’t explain how challenging it is to them. I envy those with singletons who can hold a conversations with friends and go for lunch with their one baby. I look forward to reading your book.

Comment by bea. on May 12th, 2011 @ 12:47 am

Dear Dr Friedman. I have just finished reading your book and logged onto this blog to read about the top ten twin parenting challenges ( and what a brilliant list !) I have always thought of my twins as 2 individual children , put them in two separate moses baskets from the start and longed to spend one on one time with each of them ( and in fact have made sure i get some). They are 15 months old and my husband and I have started to put some of our intuitions into practice (now verified by your book ).For example, I took my daughter to see her grandparetns in Germany recently, and both her and I flourished whilst we were away !Now I’ve read your book and reading all the informative ‘twins stories’ I know that I’m on the right track. I know many twins moms who always get stressed out because they are trying all the time to treat both of their twins equal, but for me this always sounds odd and is out of the question. I go to twins club meetings but even there the’ twins mystique’ is rife, even amongst many twin mothers. I will recommend your book t oany twin mums that I know, especially those who are just starting out on their journey to paretnhood and are finding it so hard to juggle two babies and dealing with their feelings !

Comment by Evelyn on June 22nd, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

I have 4 years old identical twin girls. I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant. Our children came at 35 weeks & I truly feel like I have only caught my breathe in the last month.
My husband has only just started working consistently - after leaving his full time job of 10 years the week before we found out we were pregnant!
I have worked since my girls were 5 weeks old - and breastfed for 11 months. While I feel proud of my achievements I am also thoroughly exhausted and would love some tips on how to ’separate the twins’ when one work full time and lives on a budget. I often find these lists assume there is a mother at home or spare cash to put kids into daycare on different days etc.
My instincts have always told me to treat them as daughters. I introduce as daughters and have always dressed them differently etc but the fact is they need more separate time and I am finding it hard to do that, in reality.

Comment by Amanda on October 9th, 2011 @ 11:21 am

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