The Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Parents
Yes … you read that right! The experts love to discuss the social and emotional needs of gifted children, but what about their parents? Sometimes they are ‘included’ in an article about social- emotional needs, but only concerning how it relates to their children. Bah.
Where do I begin? Talk to any parent of a gifted child and you hear … all about how gifted their child is. That’s it? What about you? You do have needs, too. Being a good parent to a gifted child can only be enhanced by discovering and meeting your own needs along the way.
Here’s how the story often goes: baby is born; baby discovers Socratic learning; pre-school years arrive and it appears the child doesn't quite fit in; child is assessed with uncommon abilities … parents left wondering (for the most part) … how did this happen? Parents begin down the path of discovering exactly what it means to be gifted. Surprise! It’s suddenly apparent that they are on a parallel path … to self-discovery.
It’s one thing to have a social-emotional child. It is quite another to be a parent with unmet social-emotional needs and try to parent that child. Society is quick to judge perceived ‘bad parenting’, but it has even greater disdain for parents of gifted children who don't get it right.
So what’s a parent to do? Let’s check in with the few experts who do understand that it’s a tough job parenting these kids. Since they're experts, it’s a sure bet a few strategies have been devised to deal with the situation.
Strategy No. 1: Hit the books and the Google before it’s too late! Since it would be a bit presumptuous to start during birthing classes, the next best thing would be to learn all you can about ‘giftedness’ once it has been determined that your child is showing signs of accelerated development … the sooner; the better.
Strategy No. 2: Find a peer group. How do you do that? Often times, other adult gifted people do not admit they are gifted or simply do not know it. That makes the search for peers rather difficult. The best place to start is with groups … online groups found in places like Facebook, Twitter, SENG, and offline groups such as state gifted organizations with local affiliates and gifted parent support groups.
Strategy No. 3: Admit your own giftedness. You don’t need an IQ test to realize that you are different. The Institute for the Study of Advanced Development has a fantastic checklist of adult characteristics that will make identification fairly simple. A few of the characteristics listed there include: out-of-sync with others; overwhelmed by interests; passionate, intense feelings; and love intense discussions.
Have I piqued your interest? It is as important to discover and work to meet your own needs as it is to do the same for your child. It will make you a better person and a better parent. Understanding who you are and why you are that way will bring hope and enjoyment into your life. You will no longer be defined by what you feel others think about you. Now, isn't that reason enough to start down the road to self-discovery?
I've included a few links below to get you started:
“Discovering the Gifted Ex-Child” by Stephanie Tolan
“Can You Hear the Flowers Sing? Issues for Gifted Adults” by Deirdre V. Lovecky
“Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult” by Stephanie Tolan
“Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon: Extra Intelligent,Intense and Effective” (book) by Willem Kuipers
“How to Charm Gifted Adults into Admitting Giftedness: TheirOwn and Somebody Else’s” by Willem Kuipers
“The Gifted Identity Formation Model” (click filename) by Andrew S. Mahoney