I remember how I was before I was a parent. Let’s just say I had opinions about how people raise their kids. We all have those “I would never allow such and such moments” Now I know what a life-altering experience it is to become a parent. Especially, the more kids you have. And especially if at least one of those kids happens to be gifted. Raising kids is a difficult job often accompanied by doubts and fears you never imagined. We could go on for pages about the normal concerns almost every caring parent faces, but in the case of raising gifted children who are atypical for obvious reasons, let’s just focus on a few of the most common worries we struggle with:
Expecting Too Much
This is a big one, because, on one hand, gifted children show so much promise and demonstrate the ability to pick things up rather quickly. On the other hand, they are just kids and very often their brains just don’t make the connections we expect them to. We want to push them and invite them to challenge themselves, but sometimes that doubt sets in. We wonder if we are pushing too hard. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say– no, you are definitely not pushing Jr. too hard! On the other hand, this feeling that sometimes surfaces as guilt is a totally normal reaction to the responsibility of shaping and disciplining young minds. Kids test their boundaries all the time and there is nothing wrong with doing the same thing as a parent. When you discover your child’s limitations, the important thing is to respect them and deal with them constructively.
One fear that comes with the feeling that we are pushing too hard is that we will somehow ruin their drive. We equate discipline and challenge with taking away their childhood. While balance is important, personal struggles and hurdles are an important part of life. There is also the chance that your child may be a little bit overly emotional. When we experience this, we have to remind ourselves that we are not the unsympathetic beasts he may see us as in that one particular moment. We have to keep perspective as nurturing adults.
This is a really big fear that always comes up for parents. It’s also a tricky situation. The value of the public school system is always up for debate. The argument for private schooling or homeschooling is always very heated and full of pros and cons in every direction. What most parents want for their kids is a good education. More importantly, they want a good solid foothold that will help their children be more successful when they’re grown. There are different ways to get there, but some have more hurdles than others.
What I would say about this is that how you educate your child is an important decision. The outcome will impact their childhood and possibly their future. However, you are not going to destroy their potential or their chance of success because of the choice you make. The important thing here is to be involved as a parent. Not necessarily as their advocate at school, but as their mentor at home. Understand the school’s role and what you sign up for when you finish enrollment, then just fill in the rest the best way you can. It will be fine.
It is vital that you do your part as a parent to ensure your children are learning as much as they can, within the school syllabus and outside of it. There are many things you can do to help support and guide them through their education, like making sure they have access to the best resources available and that there are always opportunities for extracurricular activities. Pay attention to the things your children are interested in and help them find ways to pursue those interests. For example, if your children are interested in music, try your best to provide them with time to pursue their music outside of school; also, do your best to give them the tools they need to learn and develop new skills like buying them that drum machine or instrument they want. Just because you’re not sending your child to a private school or homeschooling doesn’t mean that you can’t give your kids the best opportunities for success and happiness in life.
Not As Smart as Jr.
Okay, the last thing I know we all deal with is the fear that our gifted kids are smarter than we are. I know I do. I know his score. It’s intimidating. But he is just a kid. He may learn things very quickly, but he doesn’t have the experience I do. Experience accounts for quite a bit of intelligence. This kid will run around the room with a blanket on his head until he hits a wall unless I stop him. He’ll fall out of his own chair in the middle of lunch. He can remember the capital of Kazakhstan but he can’t remember to pick up his underwear and put it in the hamper.
The bottom line is, yes he can learn more than I ever knew when it comes to certain subjects. However, he is still a kid with a lot of blind spots who needs constant guidance and supervision. I know someday, when his debate skills are fully developed, he’ll be a big challenge. But I have time before then and when it happens I know I’ll be ready and you will be too, especially if you really are concerned about it now.