Today begins National Parenting Gifted Children Week hosted by SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted). You can follow the Blog Tour throughout the week and download SENG's free NPGC Week ebook, The Joy and the Challenge: Parenting Gifted Children .
Twenty years ago today, I joined the gifted community with the birth of our first child. Unlike the Harry Chapin song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, our child arrived, but not in the usual way. You see … our little bundle of joy decided to join us 7 weeks early. After a month in the NICU, we brought her home not knowing for sure what the future held. Throughout the first year, she reached few developmental milestones such as holding her head up or walking on time which was cause for concern. Those concerns were soon replaced with amazement at what she could do!
The first child can be a daunting experience for new parents. 2AM feedings are followed by 10AM logins to the Internet searching for the latest information on parenting techniques. For the parent of a gifted child … even before they are identified … you are hoping for encyclopedic results to your searches. One day your baby is cooing and the next day you swear they are ‘listening’ to your conversations! Soon, they are engaging in the conversation.
With the birth of our son two years later, we simply assumed that all children could talk by a certain age and that reading was no big deal. We later learned from talking to other parents and then pre-school teachers that our children were indeed advanced for their ages. Subsequent testing and entrance to the gifted program confirmed this.
The road to becoming a gifted parent has many entry points. It is certainly the road less traveled. It has twists and turns as well as bumps along the way. We all travel different paths; but when we connect, there is almost always a special bond. These connections ultimately help us to build bridges over rough waters and share in the joys of our children’s lives.
Although it was not available when our children were born, we now use social media platforms to connect with gifted parents locally, nationally and even internationally. These connections help us appreciate the fact that raising gifted children is a challenging responsibility; no matter where you live or in what circumstances you find yourself.
The past twenty years have taught me that the perfect parent does not exist; nor does the perfect child. The frustration that comes with trying to find the right placement in school for your child, combating the myths that surround gifted children, explaining to teachers what ‘asynchronous’ development means … it will all fade in time. The happy memories remain!
It is easy to become overwhelmed by a precocious child. Once you’ve answered all of the ‘why?’ questions that you can, you one day realize that you no longer have all the answers. It is a surreal and exciting, yet humbling, experience to watch your children grow into incredibly gifted adults.
When you’re having a particularly stressful day with your emotionally intense gifted child, consider this … your child has the potential to one day change the world. Not all parents are so privileged. Count your blessings!