I presented recently at the Gifted Children’s Association of BC annual general meeting.
One of the first things I did was ask the group: who likes the term “gifted”?
(Insert dramatic music here: dun dun daaaaaa)
Not a single hand went up.
Heads were shaking “no!” People laughed (as if to say “of course not!!”) They looked around, connecting with each other in their negative experiences and dislike of this word.
It’s a loaded word. And a misunderstood concept – this being gifted thing. We all feel it.
Then I asked: how many of you consider yourselves gifted?
Two or three hands went up. And the rest of the room sat there, with their hands in their laps, looking kind of embarrassed. Heads were shaking “no!” again. Some even said “no way!” quietly.
Or maybe I’m just projecting – because I’m sure embarrassed when the topic of being gifted comes up!
Well, I hate to break it to you, but if you’ve got a child who has been identified as being gifted, chances are very high that you are too!
Being gifted is a physiological difference – it’s about how your brain and nervous system functions. And it’s part of our genetics. I mean, really, none of our kids got dipped in vats of radioactive waste to make them this way!
I’ve found it’s an important step towards being the parent my gifted kids need, for me to understand my own giftedness! After all, if I’m in denial about who I am, then how can I expect to successfully support my children as they learn about and value and become who they are?
That whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing has NEVER worked for me! I’ve made a point of inviting my kids to help me see when I’m being hypocritical or inconsistent, so they do! Surprise surprise!
And beyond supporting their growth and self awareness, the hardest part of parenting for me has often been not letting things trigger me! When I react to something my kids say or do, it’s often because whatever is happening is something that resonates with one of my fears. It’s those big red buttons that kids (particularly teenagers) seem to be able to find and push.
I grew up feeling like I didn’t fit in. I grew up learning to bite my tongue and not ask all those questions churning around in my head. I’ve always struggled with overthinking things. I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome and worrying that I’m not good enough. I’ve felt like no one loves me and that I’m not worthy of any attention or praise that came my way.
Now, imagine trying to parent a volatile, intense, sensitive gifted kid from that wounded, damaged place. Yeah, it’s NOT pretty!
The most important things we can do to help our children grow to psychological maturity is deal with our own baggage!
Otherwise, we’re likely to just pass it right along, without meaning to. That’s how generational patterns of dysfunction continue on. And that, if nothing else, was something I wanted to stop. This is true for all parents/kids/families, but particularly important for gifted, highly sensitive, intense and creative kids!
I want better for my kids. And that ended up meaning that I had to want/do better for myself. When all is said and done, we can really only pass along what we have to pass along. Intentions and wishes are great, but I couldn’t expect my kids to learn lessons that I had never learned!
So, if you’re insecure about being gifted, being different, being too intense, too curious, too loud, thinking too much, feeling too much – may I highly recommend that you explore those feelings and where they come from.
I summarized much of what I’ve learned about giftedness here: http://www.iwasthinking.ca/gifted-what-does-that-mean/
I found immense growth from working with a counsellor who focused not on analyzing my thoughts (when I was already too good at over thinking to begin with!!) but instead got me out of my head and feeling/listening to my body and emotions instead. You can check out this amazing therapist here http://awarenessing.com or look for someone similar in your area! It may take a few tries to find a therapist who “gets” giftedness, but it’s worth the effort!
I’ve always noticed that I self select friends who are also gifted and sensitive and intense, so spending time with friends and talking always helps too.
As much as learning about myself and facing so many deeply painful thoughts, memories and patterns has been difficult, it has also been immensely rewarding! Becoming the parent my children need me to be is what has driven me on this journey, but the personal growth has been the real gift in all this. Once I let myself, I started seeing things this way: my children were sent to teach me what I needed to learn.
And, well, I sure do love learning…