Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Journey

When a baby is born, it is rare that a parent’s first thought is … “Wow, my baby is gifted”! Every new life is precious and special. That is the way it should be. Every child comes with a set of gifts to be discovered. These very gifts are what make each child unique. This precise idea becomes the focal point when a child is identified as intellectually gifted. It is where perception and reality collide and the mythology takes over. How parents react to the myths surrounding giftedness will change their child’s life forever.

Parenting gifted children requires a skill-set that is often developed through on-the-job training. Until recently, few handbooks or how-to books even existed on coping with giftedness in children. Birthing classes do a good job of disseminating information on delivery, care, and feeding of a baby. But how do you respond to a baby who carries on a conversation with you just as they are beginning to walk or correctly identifies a sign for a favorite store from their carseat? What do you do if they show all the signs of readiness for kindergarten, but haven’t enrolled in pre-school yet? What do you do if you think they are ready for their first library card before they even start school?

Gifted parents face harsh realities early on. If they try to advocate too early, they are labeled as pushy, arrogant or misguided about their child’s abilities. Battles with school districts and their ‘in-the-box’ mentality can take a heavy toll on parents and entire families. In what other part of society are the best and brightest marginalized as much as they are in our educational system?

My solution is to relax and enjoy the time with your gifted child. Yes, there will be battles fought and you will most certainly be discouraged at times. Yes, your child may be defiant and precocious. Yes, you may have to cope with a child who is diagnosed as 2E – both gifted and learning disabled or health impaired. Yes, you may have to give a little extra of yourself to support their intellectual requirements by making difficult decisions concerning their education or how to meet their social-emotional needs. But there will also be those ah-ha moments as well when they grow into adulthood. The journey lasts a lifetime, so you might as well enjoy it!

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