One of the reasons I started this blog was I felt it important that the gifted community ~ beyond educators, academics, professional advocates ~ understand what it is like to parent a gifted child in the ‘outside’ world. A vast majority of us join the gifted community by proxy. Until our children become self-advocates, we are responsible for their care & feeding AND for doing everything we can to see they reach that esoteric state of ‘full potential’.
I read a lot these days. I read mainly about gifted issues. Sometimes I think I finish reading articles in my sleep or at least it seems that way when I awake in the morning. I’m not always pleased about what I read. Blogs written by educators do not reflect my experiences with gifted education. Too often, their reflections bear little resemblance to the real-world stories I heard from my kids when they came home from school and I asked them “how was your day”.
When you do a Google search on ‘gifted education’ … something many first-time parents do when their child is identified gifted or they suspect giftedness long before the first day of school … you can add date parameters. But frankly … it doesn't make a whole lot of difference. You see … more often than anyone will admit … you could read an article online from 1991 or 2000 or 2006 or last month and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. It’s just the same old same old.
Nature or nurture. Equity or equality. Lack of adequate identification procedures. Myths, myths and more myths repeated because there is no effective governmental policy regarding gifted education … anywhere. Blah … blah … blah. What’s a parent to do? I can tell you from personal experience that whatever you decide to do … there will always be an ‘expert’ somewhere down the road telling you that you did it all wrong!
You could read a book. Do you have time to sit down and read a book? I never did when my own children were younger. Heck … I hardly have time now. You should see the shelves of my Kindle … thankfully it’s in the Cloud so I don’t have to look at it every waking minute! You could join a gifted parent group. They really are a great source of information and camaraderie. Of course, as soon as the first meeting is over, they’ll be asking for volunteers. I know … I started a parent group and was the one asking for help all.the.time.
So … here’s my suggestions for ‘best practices’ when it comes to parenting a gifted child – search for blogs written by parents and occasionally by an expert; join a parent group but strongly suggest they consider utilizing social media and the Internet to communicate (this will reduce the need for monthly meetings); figure out how to tweet and join a Twitter chat for an hour a week from the privacy of your home (disclaimer: I moderate #gtchat on Twitter and am a strong advocate for the benefits they offer); and attend a state or national conference at least once while your kids are young (it will change your life and give you that ‘I am not alone’ glow long after it’s over).
And here’s the very best advice of all … your children are who they are because of who you are! That’s right. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. They have been identified gifted and you probably are, too; even if you weren't officially identified. They’re emotional and irreverent and difficult to get along with at times. And if you’re willing to admit it … you are, too. Parenting gifted children is not easy and you are guaranteed to make mistakes; but take time to find joy in every day. And … share that joy with your child. They will never forget those moments and isn't that what it’s all about … making memories to last a lifetime?