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A Mental Healthy House With Twins - Part 1
Posted by dirkgently1066
12th Sep 2015

Bringing up a child is hard. Bringing up twins is even harder.

But what about bringing up twins plus a third child whilst battling mental illness? That is tougher still.

There are lots of reference materials out there for parents, including books on bringing up multiples. But the majority of these are, understandably, geared more towards mums. But us dad's are an important part of our children's lives too and many of us don't have a clue what we are doing.

And so this feature will explore some of my thoughts; the highs and the lows, the mistakes made and the lessons learned. And all of it against the backdrop of an ongoing recovery from depression and anxiety.

**Ready Or Not, Here We Come!**

You're going to be parents to twins. Congratulations!

The first thing to bear in mind is that there is only so much space floating around in mummy's tummy. Your little princes or princesses are probably going to surprise you with a visit well before you're ready.

There is nothing you can do to prevent it and nothing you can do to prepare. No matter how ready you think you are, you are not. This will be a ride like none you have experienced before.

So what can you do? The main thing is to be involved. A dad's role is a strange one during these early times. The babies need to bond with mum, especially if breast feeding and so you can start to feel like a spare part. Rest assured you are not, so do what you can; cook, clean, change nappies, keep the house running. Mum will be tired, irritable, emotional and quite likely in a lot of discomfort.

Resist that bloke urge to fix. Don't try to take the feeling away, don't attempt to invalidate it with cold logic. It is how she feels. You don't have to mend, sometimes it is enough to simply be there to listen, to reassure, to comfort.

**I'm Not A Number, I'm A Free Man!**

It is a fairly common trait that we assign labels to people. It is a convenience, a way for people to relate.

Throughout my life I have been variously described as the quiet one, the smart one, the arrogant one, the fat one, the moody one, the stressy one, the laidback one. Most of these were not meant vindictively, they were meant with humour and affection.

And so you, and those around you, will be tempted to fall into the same habit with your twins. One cries all the time? Must be the stroppy child. One never finishes their milk? The fussy child. One who eats too much? The greedy one.

And what's wrong with that? It's just a bit of fun. Isn't it?

Perhaps, but there is a subconscious undercurrent too. Growing up, I was the 'smart' one in the family. I got decent marks at school, I completed my A-Levels, I went to University. And I went on to suffer from depression and anxiety that drove me to be hospitalised.

And labelling played it's part. Being called the smart one created a sense that I must always achieve, that anything less than full marks represented a failure. Then, as I got older and moved through University and work, I realised that I wasn't as smart as others. There was always someone better. One of the traits that I had allowed to define me had been taken away. I began to work harder, feeling that I had to put in twice the effort of others just to keep up, never satisfied by an achievement, focused on the negative, discounting any positive, always looking over my shoulder in case someone figured out what a fraud I was.

And so on the one hand my subconscious had created a thinking pattern (a schema) based on perfectionism whilst at the same time creating a secondary schema based on a sense of fundamental inferiority. I could never hope to achieve the standards I set for myself. I was setting myself up to fail.

This may seem an extreme example but it is revealing of the power of these schemas to take root in our subconscious and direct how we live our lives.

So however your children behave, whatever they take interest in, whatever they say or do, always remember that they are not their actions. They are individuals. Do not clip their wings to try to fit them into a predefined box.

Let them fly.

Read more of my parenting blog on my website (1066allstars.webs.com), including;

Playing Favourites
What About Me?
Life Moves Pretty Fast
What's That Coming Over The Hill, Is It A Monster? No It's Their Brother!

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