Are Twins and Multiples Built-In Buddies?

Friendship In the Family

Are twins built-in buddies?
Are twins built-in buddies?. Kris Timken / Blend Images / Getty Images

There are many wonderful things about having multiples in the family. One of the most fun is the "built-in buddy" factor. There are many occasions when having a same-age sibling is an advantage, not just for the twins themselves, but also for their parents.

The Advantages of Twins as Built-In Buddies

From the very beginning, my twin daughters have enjoyed each other's company as playmates. I fondly remember them as six-month-olds, just learning to sit up on their own.

They would sit on the floor, facing each other, with a box of baby toys between them. It was a joy to watch them as they passed the toys back and forth, gurgling and gnawing on the soft plastic. They not only entertained each other, but us as well.

As preschoolers, they baffled the other two-year-olds in their class with their interactive play. Developmentally, they outpaced their classmates, who still preferred parallel play, as their teacher termed their independent play style. After the school day, they'd continue the playtime at home, creating intricate stories and games with their dolls and stuffed animals.

My friends with singletons of the same age would complain about the constant challenge to keep their children entertained. They struggled to find a moment for themselves, when their child didn't demand their attention. This was never a burden for me as a parent of twins; my twosome kept themselves occupied.

As they've grown older, the girls have recognized the benefit of twinship for themselves. Having a built-in buddy makes it much more comfortable to explore new situations, such as starting school, joining a team, going away to camp, or traveling on vacation. As they approached their preteen years and began to rely less on Mom and Dad and more on friends, they were comforted by the presence of a companion within constant reach.

The Drawbacks of a Built-in Buddy

But having a built-in buddy isn't always as ideal as it appears to the non-twin world. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all, and like any relationship, the girls frequently needed a break from each other. The fighting between twins can be particularly intense, as many parents will attest. When twins don't have friends outside of each other, there fighting can become even more focused. 

Sometimes it is more difficult for twins to develop outside friendships. That was certainly the case for my twin daughters. On occasion, it was difficult for them to establish close individual friendships with other girls, since most of the world perceived them as a package deal. It's true that twin discrimination exists to some extent, situations where twins are excluded or overlooked instead of being recognized for their individual qualities. 

What Parents Should Do

As parents of multiples, it's our job to balance the benefits of "built-in buddies" with the individual needs of each child.

Recognize that each twin or triplet deserves one-on-one time with parents. Encourage each child to develop their own outside friendships. Don't expect constant harmony when they are together; rather, build space into the multiples' relationship by providing opportunities for individual playdates and activities. If you allow your multiples to enjoy their special relationship, but encourage them to develop as individuals, they will find a social balance that both honors their bond, and prevents it from becoming stifling. 

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