I was so excited the day in 1997 when our obstetrician told us we were having twins.
We had waited for them for just a little bit longer than some people do, as fertility was something that I had to work a little harder at than some other things I had set to accomplish in our 25 and 26 years of life.
We found out at about 20 weeks gestation that they were both boys, so from then on we set to naming them.
As many can imagine, parenting them (let’s face it, being pregnant with them) has had its own set of challenges and rewards.
14 lbs is really too much baby for a uterus, and chasing two 18 month olds was enough to keep anyone on their toes.
And I’m not even going to go into potty training two toddlers at once or teaching two of them to drive at the same time right now.
For today, let’s focus on game playing.
One thing I was never able to completely do was to parent them in a way where one of them was able to consistently ‘win’ at games we played together.
We played a lot of board games (or ‘bored’ games as my husband and one of my sons tend to call them) as they were growing up. The person who won the game was always the person who ‘actually’ won the game.
In Uno, we each tried our hardest to be the one to run out of cards first. In Monopoly Jr., the goal had something to do with Mickey Mouse, so the effort that was put forth to win applied to that game as well.
When our boys were about 4 years old, we got together with a childhood friend of mine whose son is about 6 months younger than they are.
As we were playing, she got a confused look on her face.
‘How do you decide which one is going to win?’
I looked at her with an equally confused look, since the person who won was the person who got the joy of winning.
She went on ‘Well, I tend to let my son win, so if you have two the same age, how do you decide which one wins each time?’
At that moment, I realized how another facet of having and raising twins is different than raising singletons.
My children have never individually been my ‘one and only’. They have always each been one of my ones and only, but they have also had each other for as long as they have had their dad and me.
Parenting using a Zone Defense
Another incident that comes to mind from around the same age occurred when I took them to a playground with a childhood friend whose son is a little over 2 years younger than my boys are.
We went to a park in Fishers, Indiana, where she lived at the time.
There was a very large playground there, where we watched our children from far enough back to be able to catch them if any of them got too far away or hurt themselves.
We experienced some frustration because some of the other parents (or ‘those Fishers parents’ as we called them at the time) watched their children from such a close distance that if their child ran quickly through the playground, the parents had to either book it to the other side of the playground or jump up and go through the obstacles themselves.
Kind of like a zone defense vs. man to man in basketball. We utilized the zone defense, the one to one parents really put in a lot more legwork.
We were both amused when parents were on the playgroud itself. They had to do some interesting gymnastics to try to keep up with their child as they skirted out of arms reach.
These children, who we have now raised into twenty somethings and now have peers in college and in the workforce, are now much, much bigger than they were at 4 and 2 years of age.
The takeaway from this is thinking about how we, as we parent and are in relationships, are we providing that balance of support and autonomy.
We want our children to stay safe.
Those big giant heads help us to do that as we understand that they cannot meet their own needs.
As we are in relationships where we want our children to grow and become more automonous, how do we provide that support while also enabling them to have some small failures and to be independent in the process?
As someone who has supervised 20 something staff for many years, I started to hear ‘you are just like my mom!’ several years ago.
I have talked with staff about how their parents encouraged their independence, as I encouraged them to separate from their parents in ways that would help them to become adults who are able to work independently and productively.
This task, for me as a supervisor, is much easier than the task is for me as a parent.
As my children moved to Bloomington as 18 year old ‘adults’, I thought of all of the things my husband I had done to encourage their confidence and independence, and all of the things we have done that has allowed them to continue to rely on us.
Putting Into Practice
As you think about the people in your life who you are trying to help become successful, independent, good-enough decision-making adults, what are some areas that you feel you have success in?
What is one specific area that you can focus on about what you have done; whether that is with a friend, a spouse, an employee, or a child you have a role in raising; that you can look back on and think
‘I am doing a pretty good job at that task’?
What areas can you think of where you are helpful to someone else?
Now I encourage you to think of an area where you have what I call ‘room for growth’.
As you think about that area, what is something that you think about that you can be doing presently to help yourself, someone close to you, or a future relationship you hope to have?
When you think about that area you have room for improvement in, what is one specific thing you can think about that you will try to be better about?
For me, I encourage myself to remember that 21 year olds have a lot of independence and a lot of questions about how to maintain that independence.
The next task: identify something you’ll do, make a note of it in some way that you’ll remember, then make an effort and do it.
Now decide by when….
Happy Friday! It’s definitely my favorite day of the week!