Monday, January 24, 2022

Why parents of gifted children need support (and a request for your input!)

Your child is gifted - incredibly bright, curious, talented, creative, and downright amazing. So, why in the world would you need support? Well, for one, you might feel alone, since many of your friends and possibly most of your extended family do not understand. You might feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising and educating a child whose mind is like a sponge. You may be reluctant to tell others your child is gifted because you don’t want to sound like you are bragging. You even might harbor some misgivings and frustrations that you keep to yourself. 

Reactions like these are understandable and widespread among parents of gifted children. Yet, since there are few opportunities for dialogue, many parents feel isolated and muddle through without much guidance. Some even may believe that they are alone in their ambivalence or anxiety, and assume that other parents of gifted children do not experience these conflicts. Without communication or opportunities to share similar experiences, parents of gifted kids may feel just like their children do – outliers; alone and misunderstood. 
Please note: the survey is now closed. Please look for results in future blog posts and in my upcoming book!

Parents of gifted children feel isolated for a variety of reasons:

1. There are few adults who understand their stressors. They face ongoing "threats" of judgments and accusations that they are exaggerating their child's needs. They are accused of pushing or prepping their child. And they feel reluctant to share their child's accomplishments, always wary that someone will accuse them of bragging.

2. Many schools refuse to provide gifted education, especially since it is not a legal requirement in many locations. Parents feel alone as they navigate advocacy battles and worry that if they voice their concerns too intensely, there might be backlash against their child.

3. They find themselves explaining, clarifying, and apologizing for their child's sometimes socially immature, quirky, and asynchronous behaviors. Those unfamiliar with giftedness may not grasp why your young child can add up the grocery bill, yet have a meltdown in the check-out line when you won't buy them candy.

4. They feel sad and heartbroken when their child is teased or bullied, or at the very least, excluded from social gatherings. They understand that their child may be too socially immature or impatient or unable to navigate the social drama in their peer group. Yet, it can feel devastating to witness your child's social struggles, and evokes fears about their social adjustment in the future.

5. Many parents also question themselves, and struggle with powerful emotions - guilt, regret, fear, anger, and envy to name a few. Without much guidance from others, they are left to their own devices to balance the needs of their intense, active, sensitive, and intellectually curious child with those of their family and society at large. Not an easy task.

These questions loom large, although most parents of gifted children plow through on their own. Yet, understanding more about their own needs, thoughts, feelings, expectations, and struggles is essential for their child and for their own well-being. While there are many wonderful books that address gifted children's needs, there is little information available that documents the parents' experience (with the exception of some first-person articles or books that describe a parent's personal child-raising experiences). To fill in the gaps, and shed light on the parenting experience, I am writing a book, "The gifted parenting journey: A guide to self-discovery and support for families of gifted children" under contract with Gifted Unlimited Press. This book will cover the many emotions and expectations parents of gifted children face, and how understanding and coping with them can enhance their parenting. It will include both clinical and research information, along with vignettes related to the parenting experience. 

Here is where you come in, dear readers!

I have included a brief survey below where YOU can share your gifted parenting experience. I will tabulate the findings and present them in the book, and also periodically through my blog. Please take roughly 10 minutes of your time to answer this survey and return it as soon as possible. You also can enroll in a drawing for a $50.00 Amazon gift card.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thank you in advance!

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