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.