I have come to the realization that I am an annoyingly contrary parent. I could blame it on having twins with very different personalities…and so I shall. I sometimes feel that being a twin parent is an opportunity to witness a nature/nurture experiment in action. But it’s a lot more complicated than I thought. Although my twins were born on the same day to the same parents, and have had as similar an environment as it is possible to have, that doesn’t make their upbringing identical. They have one very big difference in their experience: me. Since they are both so different, I end up parenting differently with each of them and their unique personalities, hoping that they don’t pick up on too many inconsistencies!
I first became aware of it when my two first started to be properly mobile. My son, who I will call Ernest, (not his real name, but appropriate nonetheless), was a very cautious toddler. We used to persuade, encourage and cajole him to climb on a climbing frame, or go down a small slide. “You can do it!” I would say. “It’s completely safe – I’ll catch you,” I would coax him. We praised every tiny step towards overcoming a fear. We would call him courageous, brave, grown-up, you name it.
And then there was my daughter, who I shall call Joy (again, an appropriate nom-de-plume!). While Ernest was trying to pluck up the courage to go down a two-foot slide, she was hurtling headfirst down helter-skelter. While Ernest was reluctantly climbing onto the first rung of a rope ladder, she would be jumping off the top level of a climbing frame with wild abandon, utterly trusting that we would catch her, whether she’d warned us or not. And was I praising these feats of bravery and courage? Not in the least. “Joy, be careful. Think before you jump. Check that it’s safe first. Not so high.” We were desperately just trying to keep her alive!
To read more about this experience, click here…