Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: Raising Twins

Raising Twins: What Parents Want to Know (And What Twins Want to Tell Them)

I haven't done any book reviews for twinpanic.com since the twins were born -- mainly because I haven't had a lot of time for reading. I kept thinking about one book that I had read after I had tired of the reviews and decided to go back and look at it again.  Of course, I had read so many books, it was difficult to remember which one it was!

After much searching, I discovered that it was Raising Twins: What Parents Want to Know (And What Twins Want to Tell Them).  Upon re-reading, I see that this book has several things going for it, and one major strike against it.

  • The "What Twins Want to Tell Them" subtitle refers to the numerous interviews with twins sprinkled throughout the book.  I am reminded of a one-credit course I took on the politics of East Asia when I was in college.  The course had a succession of guest speakers, and midway through the class, my classmates pointed out that we finally got one who was Asian.  In other words, it's all well and good to hear from the "experts", but interviews with actual twins give a much-needed perspective.
  • The book takes a developmental approach.  For various ages, it first explains what a child can normally be expected to do at that particular age, then it revisits the topic to tell you how twins may differ.  It sounds obvious, but I found this approach to be unique among the books I've read, and it was a really good way to understand what to expect.
  • Tied in with the previous point, the book goes into a lot of detail to explain why twins need certain things.  In my review of Double Duty, I questioned the advice not to refer to your kids as "the twins" and suggested it was not that different from referring to any set of siblings as "the kids".  Raising Twins, on the other hand, explained that twins in particular struggle with differentiating themselves from their "co-twin", so it can be particularly important to use their individual names, in a way it might not for singleton siblings.
  • The book addresses twin development all the way through high school, which is somewhat unusual for a book about twins.  Most such books handle the first year, or the first few years, and, I suppose, assume that parents who survive that long can handle things for themselves.  I was interested to read how the twin relationship continues to play a role, even for teenagers.
Alas, the last positive point is also a negative point.  Because the book describes development spanning a period of eighteen years, there is very little about each specific age.  If I wanted to know a lot about six-month-old twins (I do!  I do!), there was just one tidbit, although a very interesting one.  (Children at this age may start to use transitional objects to comfort themselves when separated from their mother.  For a twin, this object may actually be his or her sibling.)  I can't imagine lugging this book around for eighteen years, only to pull it out every six months and remember what advice it has at this point.  For this reason, I cannot give the book my fullest endorsement.

Twinometer: 8/10.