DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a set of 12-year-old twin daughters. They are both sweet, smart, funny girls, but they are different in a lot of ways. One of them is confident and social and speaks her mind constantly. She is also considerate of other people’s feelings while maintaining her leadership skills. My other daughter is not so outgoing. She is shy, spends a lot of time by herself and is more of a follower. She has an amazing attention to detail and is very dependable when I need her for something. I try to accentuate my daughters' differences but also treat them the same.
As they are approaching high school soon, I would like my daughter who is shy to become more social. How do I get her to come out of her shell without pushing her too far? -- Mother of Twins, Minneapolis
DEAR MOTHER OF TWINS: Start by accepting your daughters for who they are -- as they are. Your introverted daughter may remain quiet and somewhat withdrawn. That is OK for her. Do not push her. Instead, learn what her interests are, and point her in those directions. If she is into music, encourage her to play an instrument or take singing lessons. If she likes a sport, suggest that she join a team. Whatever she fancies, you should encourage. Chances are, she will blossom naturally when she is in an environment that feels safe and stimulating to her.
As far as your outgoing daughter, pay attention to her as well. Check to see if she is making smart choices in terms of friends and social activities. Often, the gregarious ones intersect with others who do not always share your family's values or views. Be sure that both daughters learn how to be true to themselves.