Sunday, February 12, 2006

Twin Births and Listening to Other People's Advice

By Christina VanGinkel

When an acquaintance of mine recently found out that she was expecting twins, she rather panicked. All of her children so far, three to be exact, we raised as babies in what she herself referred to in a casual and relaxed manner. No schedules, no rituals, pick them up and rock them for hours, pretty much let them do whatever it was they wanted to do.

This worked out well for her, even though she knew many people who frowned upon not having the baby's on schedules, especially both her mother and mother-in-law. They had more than once pointed out that not having the children on schedules as infants, would make their toddler and ensuing years hectic, stating that if they did not learn to follow a schedule early on, they never would.

Well, all three of her older children had made it to school aged just fine, and did not seem to have any issues with following a schedule. She had spoiled them rotten as the saying goes when they were each infants, but she did implement discipline early, for safety reasons, because that was her way. If a toddler crawled up on something they should not be on, she would take them down herself, tell them in a very firm voice 'NO!" and put them down where they belonged. She would do this time and again until they stopped whatever behavior it was she did not want them doing. So even though the kids had no set bedtimes, no nap times, even could eat whenever it was they were hungry, they still held her as both a figure that loved them over all else, but also had no problem disciplining them. Still, in her mother's eyes and her mother-in-law's, she always still heard that her kids were a bit on the rebellious side, and it was because she never made them follow a schedule as infants.

I always rolled my eyes whenever they told her this in my presence, which they did often, as it was in both of their nature to let everyone know what they thought of her lack of a schedule. Well, several years later, with her first three kids in school, quite well adjusted, getting good grades, and not having a problem adjusting to a bedtime, which was implemented during the school year, but not summer months, she wondered what in the world she was going to do with twins. Her mother and mother-in-law have already started. With more gusto than I ever heard them with in the past, stating that if she did not get those twins on a schedule, and a strict one, from the minute they were born, she would rue the day.

I can tell that she is a bit intimidated by the thought of having twins and having to tell them both that they were right all along, all at the same time. When she innocently asked me what I thought, I did tell her. I do not know if it was what she wanted to hear, but I told her anyways. With twins, I responded that, a schedule of some consistency was probably the right way to do things, at least as first. I also responded that as she had did so well with her first three kids, all infant and toddlers at the same time at one point, that she should let her own instincts guide her with these two new additions when they arrived. If a schedule worked, one that she gave a fair chance to, and tried to put into place with a real effort, then go with it, and do not listen when others spouted off with an I told you so attitude. In the same breath, if after trying one it did not seem to help get both babies into sync, and one was miserable from having to follow the other's schedule, as invariably a schedule would work for at least one, then she would have to make the adult decision of continuing it or letting it fall by the wayside. What I told her was to do whatever she felt worked.

I figured she would scoff at what I had to say, that it was no help whatsoever, but smart person that she is, looked at me and asked if I thought she did a good job with her older kids. I did. She then asked me if I meant that she should just take these babies as the individuals that they would be, and just let the scenario play it out as she did with her others, and when I responded that was exactly what I meant, she just smiled. As if she had accumulated ammo for the next time, she had a run in with her mother or mother-in-law. For no one could tell her she had failed the first three times out, and she had proof to back up that argument in the form of three well behaved, well oriented school aged children.

If you are expecting twins, know that even though there are two, they are going to be as unique little people as night and day, and that how you raise them will be just as unique from anybody else that has already been there. You can learn from others, and things like schedules may be the perfect thing you will need to get thorough their infancy. If no schedules in the world work though, that is ok too, as they are babies, and babies occasionally just like to do their own thing!

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