Tuesday, February 22, 2022

When you compare your gifted child to others

One thing parents of gifted children quickly realize is that their child is, well… different. Although bursting with intellectual smarts, astonishing talents, creativity, empathy, and insatiable curiosity, they also frequently manifest traits that can be a challenge. Many struggle with deficits in executive functioning skills that create roadblocks to success. Some underachieve, despite their capabilities. Still others struggle in their relationships with peers; impatient, socially awkward, immature, or discouraged by social norms that make no sense to them. While others may be in awe of your child’s abilities, they also notice the quirks and delays. As they witness behaviors consistent with asynchronous development, they scratch their heads. How can such an advanced child behave like someone three years younger? How can such a smart kid lack common sense? You may have trouble finding adults who “get it” and with whom you can commiserate or share your fears and worries.

Although you recognize that all children differ, with varying strengths and challenges, it is tough to watch your child struggle – or lag behind their peers. You want to appreciate and accept your child completely, quirks and all, yet you can’t help but compare. The dichotomy between their remarkable talents and their social immaturity, intensity, heightened sensitivity, and signs of asynchronous development can be daunting. All parents compare their child; it goes with the territory. But sometimes, comparisons evoke troubling and painful emotions: embarrassment, disappointment, shame, and envy. You might wish your child were more mature... or less complex... or require a lot less of your time and energy. 
And when your child accomplishes something astounding, but other kids take center stage, it leaves you wilted, confused, and perhaps, guilty over your reactions. As a result, parents of gifted children struggle with powerful emotions – often, with few outlets for support.

One of our greatest challenges as parents involves recognizing when we compare our child to others, and then coping with the uncomfortable feelings that arise. Yes, sometimes comparisons result in pride and excitement, as we are reminded of our child’s gifts and talents. But wise parents realize these reactions are fleeting, as there always will be someone out there who will surpass your child. We must stay attuned to when comparisons result in a level of embarrassment that alienates us toward our child and evokes resentment and shame. We also must appreciate that while envy is a normal reaction, it can make us miserable, and we can transmit these feelings to our child. Accepting another family’s or child’s “right” to succeed is essential. Learning to accept the fact that the school, community, and even your family members may let you down is an important life lesson. When we weather and rebound from disappointments, we also role-model healthy resilience for our child. Most importantly, cultivating gratitude and appreciation for your child – shortcomings and all – is essential.

Parents of gifted children struggle with these complex emotions. Please consider sharing your reactions in a survey where YOU can share your gifted parenting experience. I will tabulate the findings  and present them in an upcoming book, "The Gifted Parenting Journey: A Guide to Self-discovery and Support for Families of Gifted Children" 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.

Please note: the survey is now closed. Please look for results in future blog posts and in my upcoming book!

Thanks in advance!

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