As a family coach, blogger, and independent educator, I often say that although my work has some to do with gifted children, it actually has more to do with gifted families. Parents will come to me when they suspect their child is gifted, stressed out with a million questions. And at some point in our conversation, they will realize they are not only asking about how to best support their children, they are also asking about how to best support themselves and their partners.
I call this The Cycle of Realization. To be honest, it’s more like a Winding-Staircase-That-Never-Ends of Realization.
And that’s when the mourning begins.
A clinical understanding of giftedness as a holistic, inherent cognitive difference has only now begun to explode into popular culture. Everywhere, people are working hard to develop strategies to support the gifted learner. The semi-joking question I get from gifted parents all the time is “Where were you when I was five?”
When that gifted parent was five, the presiding parenting dictum was that children were to be seen and not heard. Often the only explanation any child got for anything was “Because I said so.” Questions were interpreted as distractions or unhealthy attention-seeking behaviors that were to be ignored.
This type of authoritarian parenting often shuts down a gifted child’s drive to learn, explore, and create. If a child is chastised every time she makes a comment or asks a question, you better believe that child is going to go underground with her giftedness. Going underground with an inherent aspect of our selves results in depression, anxiety, and poor decisions.
Gifted parents can’t help but wonder “How different or better would my life be if I had been identified as the gifted being I now realize I am?”
After I help a gifted parent develop some empathy and strategies to support their gifted child, they begin to see all the ways they could have been supported more effectively by their parents and educators.
My next step is to teach them to self-empathize, using healthy self-talk that includes phrases like:
I did the best I could with what I had.
I acted out in the past because my need for understanding was not being met.
I tell them to put phrases like these on repeat in their mind as they parent their own gifted child. This soothing self-talk can serve to ease the sometimes upsetting realization of how much better your childhood could have been, while you actively work to create a supportive environment for your own gifted child.
Does this sound like you? Are you a parent just beginning to realize that this gifted stuff applies to you, too?
If you’d like to listen and share your experiences with navigating how the traits of giftedness apply to you, please join Sara Yamtich and me on July 9, 2014, for a free community call. During the call, we will offer peer support to one another as we discuss characteristics of adult giftedness, including insatiable curiosity, high sensitivity and perceptivity, multipotentiality, perfectionism, and entelechy.
It’s sure to be a great time and I sincerely hope you’ll join us.
To receive details, please take a moment to sign up for Sara’s mailing list. We look forward to hearing your voice!
This post is part of the Gifted Parenting GHF Blog Hop.
Be sure to go visit the other stops on the hop!