A thousand years ago when I was elected student body secretary in high school . . . and my twin sister was not. . . how was I to know that she felt awful?  Last week over coffee we recalled this experience and so many others that are difficult for twin teens.   I had no idea that my sister felt so guilty about getting into a prestigious and highly academic high school program that I did not qualify for.  As a result, she told me that she chose to only participate for one semester rather than two.

Even though these events occurred more than forty years ago, they remain salient emotional markers in our adult relationship.  My sister and I are grateful beyond words that we had each other during our growing years.  We both recognize and acknowledge that it was our twinship that protected us from unhealthy family dynamics.  Most siblings, including twins, form a distinct relationship with each parent.  I tried to take care of our mother emotionally.  My sister, on the other hand, experienced such profound maternal disappointment that she stopped feeling any connection to her at all.  Both of us reacted in different ways to a situation rife with maternal neglect and cruelty.

As we have raised our own children, we have a renewed appreciation about how our unique connection to one another actually saved us.  I have interviewed hundreds of twins and am often told that the twin relationship served as the anchor and safety net in family situations where the parents were emotionally damaged.

While my sister and I are similar in may ways, we have distinct preferences and personality traits.  I love to shop and spend money; she buys her clothes online and is careful about “saving for a rainy day”. Nonetheless, our shared experiences create an unbreakable bond that allows for individual differences and perspectives.  Our need to create an even balance is no longer an issue, as it was in high school.  So, we can tip the scale in many directions without either one of us feeling fearful about falling off - such are the advantages of wisdom, mindsight, and hindsight as we grow older and wiser.



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Dr. Joan

I have twin teen 13 year old girls and they are very close. However, one of them is very sensitive about having her own identity and not being clumped together. We have tears then people they do something and the teachers or their peers say “its a twin thing” or if they pick out the same backpack. Recently, they both tried out for drama club and they received the parts of “Twins”. Well my daughter has been in tears because she felt they received the parts because they were twins not because of her acting. She is quite upset. Any advice on how to help her not get to upset? I think it makes her sister feel bad..at the very least her sister thinks she is being a baby about it all. Any advice would be appreciated

Comment by Natalie on September 3rd, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

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