I have two wonderful daughters who were born twenty-one months apart. It was so cute when they were little dressing them alike, doing the same things, and people always asking me if they were twins. I enjoyed that clothes, stuffed animals, toys, and bedspreads were all the same, but sometimes in different colors to differentiate whose was whose. It made life so easy for me (or so I thought) as things were equal and fair among the girls.
Something happened though as my daughters grew. I started to experience their different personalities, different opinions, different attitudes, and different ways of handling situations. I realized I had two completely different children and I did not understand either of them, nor know how to interact with either of them. It took several years to realize these differences and to relearn how to work with my children.
I have one daughter who likes simple, but nice designs in her clothes; she appreciates a more subtle approach. She is shy, takes longer to get to know someone, and does not always come forward to share what is on her mind. She is my computer techie and logical thinker. She works out a problem in her head and then she can talk about it. She is also self-motivated in her schoolwork. My other daughter is sparkly and appreciates bling and bold colors. Every new person she meets is a potential BFF from the get-go. She is quite compassionate and emotional and has a need to talk everything out. She doesn’t mind, or doesn’t remember, repeating the same story for each person in the house.
There were so many differences that one would think they would be obvious to me, but I was blinded with my twin complex. God had to show me that my children were different and had different needs in regards to school, duties around the house, discussions and interactions with others. He showed me that just because they are twenty-one months apart does not mean that they are in the same place physically, spiritually, or emotionally.
As God has been reforming our family over the last eight years, I assumed that if my fourteen-year-old understood, the twelve-year-old understood as well. We were teaching the exact same material to both girls at the same time. My twelve-year-old, who is now almost sixteen, shared with me just recently that she was not really listening back then. Her maturity was not to a level that she could believe the words of Christ because of what they proclaimed, but she obeyed because her parents expected that of her. Fifteen was the age at which her maturity started kicking in and she had to claim Christ’s words as her own and not because Mom and Dad said so.
My second daughter is the one who really needs those late night talks and really questions why people do certain things. She is the type of young woman who wants nobody left behind, wants everyone to be having a good time at a party, and is crushed if she does something that causes someone to be mad at her. This is a stark difference to my other daughter who does not need many friends nor worries too much if she is different. My oldest daughter does not always need the heart to heart talks, but I have discovered that when she does, I have to draw those conversations out of her. One daughter got math very easy and the other struggled to the point we had to try several different curriculums with her. The one who struggled in math is a very creative writer while the other is technical and straight forward in her writing.
So now that I have a daughter turning eighteen in June and one turning sixteen in March, I can clearly see how they are different, how God has blessed each of them with great strengths and challenges. I have had to learn to treat them differently, to expect different things of them, and to remind them, and more so myself, that they are unique and not to compare themselves to one another.
- Jenni Zimmerman
Jenni is a homeschooling mom. She and her husband, Chris, live in Washington state with their four children. The entire family are earnest students of Biblical law.