Parenting and homeschooling gifted children can be wonderful. And challenging. And isolating. And exhausting. And it can chip away at the very soul of even the most confident parent.
Which is why we need each other.
Let’s face it, there comes a point in every story, from every parent of gifted kiddos I’ve ever talked to, when they stop and realize that their child is different than all the other kids around them. It may happen when they’re teeny tiny, or it may happen when they’re in their tweens or teens – but it will happen.
Research, observations of your best friend’s child who was born within weeks of your own precious peanut, and the late night conversations with your preschooler about the meaning of life and human existence all converge into your epiphany – you have a gifted child.
Questions tumble and whirl. And, in your search for reassurance, you feel alone. Nobody around in your sphere of family and friends really understands what it’s like to live with the asynchronous little one you spend your days with. They look at you like you’re a bad parent – and you think they’re right.
You wonder if you’ll ever figure this parenting thing out. Or if you even want to.
When I was a new mama, I looked for other new moms. I joined a parent group that met for play dates and went on field trips together. We just never really fit.
Have you every experienced that? Have you tried to get together with local moms groups, but felt that it just wasn’t working out?
When you’re parenting an outlier, you need the support of other parents of outliers. You need to find your tribe – people who get you and understand your kiddo.
Why? Why do parents of gifted kids need other parents of gifted kids?
Parents of gifted children need
- a place in which it’s safe to talk about the special and amazing things their kids are doing. Often parents of gifted kids hear snide remarks, lose friendships, or are made to feel as if they’re bragging when they share about their child’s accomplishments. In a group filled with other parents of gifted kids, they are safe to share.
- help in understanding their child. The asynchrony that is standard when raising a gifted child can be very frustrating to live with. Knowing other parents of kids who are struggling similarly, or chatting with parents whose kiddos have grown past some of those idiosyncrasies can really set a mind at ease.
- tips for advocating. Whether you decide to homeschool your gifted child unexpectedly like I did, or choose to keep him in a traditional school setting, you’ll need someone by which to run some of your thoughts when you need to fight for his needs. There really is power in numbers, and if you can get others together to help you advocate for your child or an entire district, change is more likely to happen.
- social interaction with others like them. Do you visit the library each week with a laundry basket to hold all of your books? Are yours the kids following around the volunteer docents at the museum, peppering them with questions? It’s so nice to meet up at a museum with other parents and their gifted kids. You can all hang back and let your little inquisitors loose together. Who knows what secrets they’ll unearth when they combine their efforts. And, when that asynchrony shifts, and they’re back to acting like six year olds, they can all run around outside together, while you parents chat and commiserate.
- support. Just like your gifted kiddos need social and emotional support, you do too. Parents, there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you are scared. That you worry whether your child’s amazing intelligence will help him discover the cure for cancer or destroy the world.
You’re not alone.
Gifted kids struggle with friendships.
Gifted kids have trouble staying motivated to do things they don’t want to do.
This makes your job really, really challenging.
You need the support of people who get it. Who get your kiddos. Who get you.
Forming a gifted parent group is a cinch – if you know other parents of gifted children in your area. If your child goes to traditional schools, you can ask around, find out the names of kids in his gifted program and contact their parents, or get in touch with the gifted specialist to ask for help.
If you’re homeschooling, it can be a little trickier to find parents of similar kiddos. I spoke at the Greenville, South Carolina Great Homeschool Convention, and met some wonderful parents of gifted kids (and some of the most adorable , fun, and quirky kiddos ever). When you head to a convention, and you attend sessions geared towards parents of gifted kids, you can ask some of the other attendees if they’re local and get to know one another.
Related: Finding Community
There are also lots of of Facebook groups for local homeschoolers where you can get to know parents and their kids. It’s hard, though, to share about your gifted child when you’re a part of a group that’s made up of all kinds of different people, with kids of varying ability. I’ve seen several well-meaning, and seeking, parents get trampled on within homeschooling groups because oftentimes, if someone doesn’t live with a gifted child, he just can’t fully understand what’s it’s like.
About nine months ago, my friend Cait (who writes at My Little Poppies) and I were talking about our kids, our sites, and our readers. Our kids are very similar. I often say to my husband that Cait’s Leo is the 7-year-old version of my 13-year-old Trevor. He’s JUST like Trevor was at seven, and I can see Leo becoming very similar to Trevor in his early teens, too.
Our readers, too, share commonalities. Most are parents, many are homeschooling (often suddenly and unexpectedly) gifted children of their own, and a bunch of them were asking each of us to open a safe group where they could share struggles and triumphs without others seeing their words in the Facebook streams.
You see, I was sharing resources and conversation starters on the Facebook page for this blog (Raising Lifelong Learners) and Cait was sharing similar resources on her blog’s Facebook page, too. But, when readers commented, liked, or shared posts, Facebook dumped them into their streams so their friends could see them, too. And many of them already felt misunderstood about their child’s giftedness, and they wanted to learn and comment, but didn’t want it all up for discussion with their friends.
Raising Poppies (Raising for my site, Poppies for Cait’s, and the two combined in tribute to this great article by Miraca Gross) supports parents of gifted and twice exceptional children – whether they’re identified formally or not. We believe that, as parents of gifted children AND professional educators (I am a gifted specialist and Cait is a school psychologist), that parents know their kiddos best. If you feel you need the kind of support you’ll get in Raising Poppies, then you belong. But, when you join us, read the pinned post – there’s one rule in the group, and it’s a deal-breaker. (Hint: We just ask that every stays kind. Kindness wins, friends… every single time.)
Our virtual parent group is amazing, and it’s one of my favorite places in which to spend time. I’ve made amazing friends there, and I firmly believe that you CAN make amazing friendships online. But, sometimes you just want to hang out with people like you (and your kids). In our group, there’s a document to help local moms and dads of gifted kids form their own in-person groups.
Remember that we need each other.
Whether you find a local group to form friendships for both you and your kiddo, or you join a virtual group, remember that you’re not alone. You can do this. And you’re an amazing parent – I promise.
More About Giftedness
Need more ideas about parenting groups? Check out the other posts in the Hoagies Gifted Pages Blog Hop. And, don’t forget, you can always search the archives here, for posts about giftedness. But, to save you some time, here are some great resources to get you started if you’re new here: