Kristin, my friend posted a question you may be able to help with. She has boy and girl twins and both are tending to attach to her a lot now. Any tips to get them to veer back to dad? Typically the boy goes to dad and girl to mom. Thanks!

First, let me say to your friend:  I understand the need for a break.  When our three kids were all young, the attention they craved from me was life-sucking at times.  I applaud your shout-out on Facebook for help.  You are a mother, and you are also human.  A brave mother human who does not pretend to have it all figured out, and who is open to incorporating the experiences of others into your own parenting for the benefit of your kids, your husband and your marriage.

Balance is so tough with twins.  One without twins might mistakenly assume that because there are 2 parents, 2 kids and 2 genders, balance in this situation would be easy to achieve.  But twins are growing, changing, mimicking, developing, maturing, testing their limits, fighting for attention, and feeding off each other every single day during the early years.

Picture them like Gumby’s – charismatic and cute, but constantly bending and flopping in unexpected directions.  They have yet to develop a strong emotional core, and without a strong core there can be no balance.

Second, because every situation is different – I will tell you what worked for us and our own household dynamic of one boy and identical twin daughters just 25 months later.

  • On mothers and sons:  The nature of boys is to want to be big and tough like Daddy.  But it takes Momma’s nurture to get them there.  Daddy didn’t start out big and tough.  Daddy started out a little boy who needed his Momma.  When he skinned his knee, when he broke his toy, when his feelings got hurt and he didn’t know what to do with his emotions – he wanted Momma.
    Momma fixes the inner boy, Daddy molds the outer boy.  As the inner stuff starts to make more sense to a little boy, the outer stuff becomes more manageable and fun.
    So fun that this Momma now tends to get left in the dust for “Guy Time” with Daddy.  But even at 10, Gabriel still floats in between Craig and me.  He comes to me when he needs a hug, and goes to Daddy when the situation calls for a celebratory high-5.
  • On discipline:  This is tricky.  It has been our experience that boys are easier to discipline than girls.  The misconception is that boys are tough, so they can handle firmer discipline.  Girls are fragile, so we must be careful with their feelings during discipline.
    The truth is that both boys and girls are sensitive.  Discipline from both parents has to be fair and equal, making it a conscious decision to avoid the gender trap.  Decide on a consistent set of negative consequences for bad choices that apply to both genders.
    Are you as firm with your little girl as you are your little boy?  If not – balance it out.  The kids – especially twins! – need discipline to be fair, so they learn to trust in the need for it.
    Remember: Little boys are never as tough as you think, and little girls can handle more than those dimples and pigtails convince you otherwise.
  • On favoritism:  It happens.  It’s normal.  Especially with twins.  Sometimes a parent is drawn closer to one child than another.  Sometimes a child is drawn closer to one parent than another.  Favoritism is not good.  Eventually it leads to hurt feelings and low-self esteem for all involved.  Favoritism can be fixed, but it takes time and awareness.
    When the girls were younger, it felt like we had Twin Teams: Craig and Taylor vs. Sydney and me.
    Taylor is a personality clone of her father.  They have the same sense of humor.  They’re both prone to accidents and spills.  They love to be the center of attention, and will do anything for a laugh.  Craig and Taylor could relate.  They made perfect sense to each other.
    Sydney, on the other hand, is very much like me.  We both prefer the peripheral instead of the spotlight.  We love animals.  We treasure quiet calmness.  Sydney and I could relate.  We made perfect sense to each other.
    Craig and I both agreed this was a problem.  I wanted to feel closer to Taylor, and he wanted to feel closer to Sydney.  We knew we had to eliminate our separate teams, so that we could all be on the same team.
    We watched lots of family movies with the twins on our laps.  We switched the girls half-way through, whether they wanted to or not.  “Mommy and Daddy love you both, and we want to spend time with both of you,” we explained.
    We also stopped tucking them in at the same time.  I did my thing, and Craig did his own thing – without the distraction, interruption, or micro-management of the other parent (okay…ME.)
    We purposely shared our kids.  When the kids wanted me more than him, I removed myself (and my tendency to micro-manage) from the situation.  Once I was out of sight, I was out of mind.  And Daddy was (is) always way more fun!

Eventually, there was no more favoritism.  Quiet bonds formed and grew into larger ones.  Large, loud, giggly – and most often annoying – bonds.  And none of us would have it any other way.

Hang in there, Twin Momma!  Time (and double the patience) cures all!