If you’re the parent of a gifted child, then you already know about the difficulties that come along with raising outliers. Maybe your child is intense, struggles with anxiety, has trouble making friends, or is a bit overexcitable. The challenge is real, and it’s often difficult for others to understand.
But, it’s really kind of amazing to be parenting a gifted child, too.
There are so many things that I love about parenting gifted children, though I know that I don’t talk about them enough. Have you ever noticed that we, as parents, tend to focus on the things that aren’t going well? We search the internet or scour books and articles to help us solve problems – which is great. Solving problems helps our kiddos and makes us better moms and dads.
But celebrating what makes our kids great makes THEM better kids. Especially when we do it where they can hear.
The next time your gifted kiddo gets a letter telling them that they’ve been selected for early enrollment in an school or camp program, or they bring home a perfect SAT score, or they teach themselves to read before they have mastered walking, shout it out. (Or join our parenting support group on Facebook – Raising Poppies – and tell us there.)
In the meantime, here are some things that I love about parenting gifted children, along with some of the things you’ve told me that YOU love about parenting your own gifted kiddos.
Gifted Kids Are Curious
Following a set curriculum doesn’t work for us here. I’ve tried. Let’s face it, I was trained to teach in a classroom setting and it’s the model that I know. It’s also the model that gets me into trouble each and every time I fall back on it.
When I remember to follow my gifted kids’ leads, we have amazing discussions, learn everything there is to know about whatever subject has piqued their interest, and have gone both deeper and wider than the kids would have done if they’d been using a textbook or had been sitting in a classroom.
And I get to be right there with them.
It is so cool to be swept up by a gifted child’s curiosity. I’m going to be honest with you – I’ve never really cared, nor wondered, why poop splashes you when you (ahem) relieve yourself or how the septic system works. I just want the system to work and to have someone fix it if the sewers get blocked or damaged.
But my kids want to know. Actually, they NEED to know. They need to know everything about everything. And, so we watched several YouTube videos – the one about poop that sparked the interest (that I’ve embedded below – you’re welcome) – and others about septic systems, sewer pipes, and documentaries about how it all works.
It’s pretty interesting stuff. And, you know what, while it wasn’t on a lesson plan, the kids learned a lot. They learned about the physics involved in (ummmm) poop splashing, how to break surface tension so that it doesn’t happen, history, architecture, plumbing, water and sanitation, and so much more.
Most importantly, though, they learned to learn. They learned that if they want to know something, they can find it out. Their ideas have value and merit, and that wonder is a beautiful thing.
I adore how Mia says it, “Being a gifted parent of gifted children, I enjoy our wide-ranging, and sometimes deep, discussions on a variety of topics. We can chase rabbit-trails together and thoroughly enjoy ourselves in the process.” Don’t you just LOVE rabbit trails?
Cayla adds, “I love how everyday life sparks some of the deepest questions from my daughter and often leads us down unexpected paths to learning something I otherwise may not have taught her.”
Gifted Kids Are Original
You never really know what they’re going to come up with. One minute we’re deep in discussion about the pros and cons of some issue, and the next minute my six year old is passing out custom-made tickets to the show she’s putting on. The discussion stops, and we all file into the family room, take our seats, and are engrossed in the “Adventures of Logan” again.
I love this comment from Alexandria, “I love the adventure! My house has become like a quirky college campus you’d see in a movie. At random, without warning, a robot may come scuttling out of a room, or you think it’s a robot and it turns out to be a puppet, and it used to be your blender. One of the kids might start singing or song or reciting a poem I didn’t know they knew. 10 minutes of suspicious silence turns out to be a tense role-playing game played on three chessboards with every game piece in the house. There are intense emotions and high drama, but the adventures, oh the adventures.”
With gifted kids in the house, you’ll never be short on adventures again. What a beautiful thing! I can’t imagine a better way to spend my parenting life than to be continuously swept up into the adventures thought up by creative and original gifted kiddos.
Gifted Kids Make Cool Connections
My three year old is intensely interested in the solar system right now. And, while many moms of three year olds might nod their heads and say, yes, my toddler loves space, too. Mine goes beyond what Little Einsteins tells him about space. He loves Saturn because of an episode of that show, but he’s also asked us to read nonfiction books to him about the planets, can differentiate between the gas giants and the inner, rocky planets. He knows that Venus is surrounded by an atmosphere made up largely of sulfuric acid – and that sulfuric acid would kill him.
Connections are a cool part of giftedness. I love seeing how my kiddos view the world and make sense of it. I know that I’ve never compared myself to a planet when I was feeling poorly, but it was an interesting thing to hear him say.
Amanda says, “I love that I can explain something to them and not only do they ask more questions and show more interest, but they remember it, dive deeper into it and bring it up during later moments.” That diving deeper thing is so cool! I love that gifted kids just want to keep going.
Christine adds, “I love the connections my son makes, and I love that I can learn from HIM.”
Connections aren’t just academic, intellectual, or cognitive, either. Rachel says, “I love the depth of understanding, the connections between ideas, the ability to make great leaps in cognitive development. I also love the connectedness between gifted kids when they meet each other. Relationships can be intensely wonderful.”
And those relationships are wonderful – especially as we let ourselves be touched by our kids and their gifts.
Gifted Kids Teach Us About Ourselves
When we let ourselves fully embrace – and see the joys in – parenting our gifted children, amazing things begin to happen. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about myself from navigating the world of parenting my four children. And there are so many things I wish I could go back and tell the parents of the gifted kids I once taught.
I love what Melanie had to say, “In learning more about who my daughter is, I have stumbled across myself. I believed so many wrong things about myself, just because of my own unknown and misunderstood giftedness. She’s making it impossible to keep believing those things, because she’s so extraordinary in so many ways, but she’s somehow SO MUCH like me. She’s making me want to try new things, to start wondering what and who I could become if I was able to embrace this part of myself, this part I never knew existed until I saw it mirrored in her. The only way I know to thank her for this is to give her the understanding and celebration and acceptance that I never knew I needed.”
Those words just resonated with me. I have found pieces of myself in each of my kids and in learning more about their giftedness. It’s made me a better wife, mom, and friend. And, like Melanie, it makes me want to be the best mom I can be, so that they have the childhood I didn’t know I had craved.
And Melanie and I aren’t alone. Steph writes, “It took me 43 years to meet someone that I could truly relate to–my 7yo son. He processes differently, relating across widely varied worlds and topics. I totally get his curiosity, anxiety, and how he loves so much that he seems to ache. We are learning to embrace our ‘otherness,’” and KJ adds, “In short, when I met him, I found myself,” and Cristy says, “All the years of feeling deeply made sense when I saw my daughter doing it as well.”
Gifted Kids are SO Much More
For all of the challenges that come with parenting gifted children, there are dozens and dozens of gifts. It’s so important for us to focus on these gifts and fall in love with the journey – and our children all over again. They’re so incredible and have so much joy to bring. We just need to stay open to seeing the gift of their giftedness as often – or more – than we see the difficulties. It’s a beautiful world, when we take the time to see its beauty.
I hope you’ll share the greatest gifts YOU get from parenting gifted or twice-exceptional children in the comments. Brag about your child and the journey you’re on together.
And while you’re formulating your thoughts, I’ll leave you with Sandra’s words as I think they sum up so much of what we all feel about our children and what they give us, “My children look at everything through a different lens. Nothing is standard or the norm, thinking outside the box is their way of life. We live outside the box. Some days they twist the simplest things into complications that take hours to unwind, but this is the gift.
If we live in a world where we accept norms, and no one is questioning what we think and what we know, then the world will suffer. This is what I tell my children when they don’t fit in, when they are bored, and when they are asked to do more. The gift is the responsibility of keeping the rest of us in wonderment – why did you say that? how could that be? I never thought of that… what are you talking about?
This is why they are my gift and this is what I love most about their giftedness.”