Discovering your child is gifted can feel more like a knot in the pit of your stomach than a reassuring pat on your back, and you may suddenly find yourself feeling isolated, alone on a parenting journey that you never could have expected (having no resemblance whatsoever to that described in the parenting manuals). And all you’re sure of is that you don’t get it. But you will. In the meantime, you can reach out to those who’ve been there. We may not always be easy to spot because we’ve learned to remain camouflaged, but we’re here.
Your tribe exists. You may feel alone, but you’re not. Even if you’re unable to find support within your family, your current circle of friends, or your community, it does exist. And it is often just a click away, on the Supporting Gifted Learners and Hoagies’ Gifted Education Facebook pages, for example. You can also reach out to your state gifted association, the National Association for Gifted Children, and Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted. Your parenting peers are out there. And, once you find them, you’ll feel as if you’ve come home.
You know your child. There are countless books on raising children and many an expert (often self-proclaimed) willing to tell you what you’re doing wrong—you’re spoiling, you’re pushing, you’re blah, blah, blah. The truth is, like most situations in life, unless you’re living with a gifted child, you don’t know what it means to parent one. You’re sharing your home with a challenging, intense, brilliant, asynchronous young person. It’s absolutely true that you won’t have all the answers, you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll have days of guilt and nights when your own personal parent blooper reel will endlessly repeat. When it comes to raising another human being, no one has all the answers, but you’ll find you have plenty of knowledge about your own kid.
You’re not crazy. Okay, maybe you are sometimes. But, more often, you’re not. Really.
Your partner matters. You’ll be tired, you’ll be frustrated, you won’t always agree, but you’re in this together. So take the time to nurture your relationship. I’m not talking about big things (though those are nice too)—a kind gesture, a touch, a kiss, a query about his or her day, or a reassuring word can go a long way. Remember you’ll be with one another long after your children have left the house. Try to ensure you’ll still know and like each other when you are.
You matter. Again, you’ll be tired, you’ll be frustrated. You’ll need a hand, or a shoulder, or a lifeline. Other times, you’ll need to be alone. That’s okay. Refuel, recharge, reboot. You’re no good to your child, yourself, or those around you if you don’t take the time to tend to your bliss—read a book, write in your journal, go for a walk, meditate, work in the garden, sip a glass of wine, eat a piece of chocolate. It may seem selfish, and maybe it is, but it’s also totally necessary.
You’ll gain an affinity for roller coasters. You’ll have ups and downs—often in rapid succession. But eventually you’ll become accustomed to the nausea, the heart-stopping thrill, and the intermittent screaming. And things will get better. You’ll learn how to support your child, your child will learn how to come into his own, your child will become her own person and her giftedness will become a welcome part of who she is. Actual roller coasters may hold no appeal for you, but when it comes to the gifted parenting ride, you’ll learn to appreciate the highs and lows.
You may find yourself. You’ll learn things about yourself you never knew you didn’t know, and your child’s growth in some ways will parallel your own. You will become a better you for having parented your unique kid.
Your kid is a kid. You’ll hear people say you need to let your kid be a kid. Um, duh. But not everyone does childhood the same. Your offspring may be a pint-sized wise man, and if you try to pretend he’s anything else, he’ll educate you. The more everyone stops comparing their children to those of others and refrains from judging various parenting styles, the more rewarding all of our journeys will be. So carry on, keep learning, and breathe.
You got this.
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This post is part of Hoagies' Gifted 101 Blog Hop.Click here to read other entries!
There are a bunch of reasons I’m looking forward to attending the 2015 SENG Conference later this week. Here are four of the biggies!
1. I’ve never been to one! If I didn’t know it were true, I’m not sure I’d believe it. After all my years living with, advocating on behalf of, and spreading the word about the gifted, I’ve never been to a SENG Conference. Well that changes in a few days!
2. Smart girls, diverse populations, and the search for meaning—just three of the varied and oh-so-interesting presentation topics. Sure, I’ve read the books, met the researchers (virtually, anyway), and internalized my own interpretations of their work, but there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation or the connection forged during the course of a presentation. I feel so fortunate to be part of a welcoming community of gifted passionistas willing to take part in information exchanges.
3. I’m going to Denver—like coming home to a place I’ve never been before (enough with the song references already). For reasons I won’t get into, I need a change of scenery and Colorado has plenty of that. And the people. I’m so looking forward to meeting the three-dimensional versions of folks that live on my computer screen—the parents, the children, the educators, the bloggers, the advocates, and all those who welcome SGL into their homes and hearts every day!
4. It’s the perfect way to wrap up National Parenting Gifted Children Week!
But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. If you’re headed to the SENG Conference this week, what has you most amped?
Another parent meeting, another mother declaring, “He gets it from his father!”
Really? Are you sure about that?
I’m not saying that your child’s father doesn’t play a role in your child’s giftedness. But it takes two to tango. And you, my friend, are part of the dance!
Look, I get it.
You aren’t the first woman to make that proclamation. And it’s not like you don’t have legitimate reasons for doing so.
You don’t have the creds—you were never identified, hold no higher education degrees, have no lofty career aspirations.
You were identified, excelled, achieved, and earned that Ph.D., but now you’re “only” a mom, volunteering at your kid’s school, serving on nonprofit boards, caring for an ailing parent, unable to find meaningful work that pays, but honestly (and a bit embarrassingly) feeling like your life has enough meaning already.
You did lousy in school—daydreamed, checked out, prioritized boys before books. Then you moved on to college and found a way to juggle time in the library with that spent on your love life, and achieved a killer GPA in the process. But that was a fluke—anyone could have done it.
As for all those opportunities that arose as you approached graduation, they were due more to luck than to any talent you possessed. Merely the right place at the right time.
You were labeled all sorts of things—shy, sensitive, a pleaser—but never smart.
And, after seeing the way smart girls were sometimes teased and made to feel unattractive, there was a part of you that was relieved. Driven by the labels bestowed, you worked diligently to mold yourself into society’s notions of what a girl should be. Alas, by the time adolescence hit, you were nearly a pro at hiding your braininess in an attempt to fit in.
Gifted women have their acts together. But you make a lot of mistakes, don’t have any direction, can’t keep a job, won’t play well with others—don’t, can’t, won’t, repeat.
Here’s the thing…
Each gifted woman—just like each gifted person, or each person for that matter—is unique. And your giftedness manifests itself in its own way. Believe me I understand the tendency to deny or keep it hidden. But, at some point, while you’re busy attributing it all to your child’s father, you may be forced to concede, “He gets it from me!” ***
Note 1: I know there are plenty of men who also practice denial, though I’ve heard it less often from them—or, perhaps, they’ve chosen not to share it with me. And they have reasons of their own, but that’s another post.
Note 2: I flipped a coin to determine which pronoun to use in reference to the child in this post; “he” won the coin toss, but “she” came in a close second. Feel free to read this post using either one. Goodness knows I’ve heard both!
Follow the links below for information on gifted girls and women and the traits related to giftedness in this population: