In my experience, gifted children often have one or both parents who are gifted. That is the good news. And the not-so-good news.
The good news:
You can relate to your child’s challenges because many of them are similar to yours. You, too, are highly sensitive and have plenty of empathy so your child will feel seen and deeply understood. It will make sense to you when your child takes deep dives into their interests and then moves on to the next passion and the next deep dive. Your creative thinking abilities will be useful during power struggles and difficult events with extended family. You will work extra hard to schedule play dates and organize extracurricular activities because you know how hard it is to find friends. You will tirelessly advocate for your child in the school system because you remember those painfully dull years in classrooms where you were bullied and bored. You feel a particularly compelling love for this little soul and an extraordinary sense of responsibility for their safety, well-being, and fulfillment.
The not-so-good news:
You can relate to your child’s challenges because they are similar to yours. If you have not addressed your own issues, you may notice said issues popping up at the most inconvenient times. Your frustrations and anger over your own losses and limits may mingle with those of your child to the point where it is hard to distinguish between them.
You, too, are highly sensitive and have plenty of empathy. Parenting is not easy for anyone. Being highly sensitive may mean it is harder for you to tolerate your child’s messiness, noisiness, smelliness, and meltdowns. Your empathy might make it harder for you to know how and when to set healthy boundaries.
Parenting is the only job you can not leave after 2-3 years or in those moments when it is rather repetitious (think Baby Shark and Frozen) and less than intellectually stimulating.
Your creative thinking abilities might be less useful when you are able to come up with multiple numbers of the potential catastrophes that are looming.
It was difficult to find friends when you were childfree. Now, well, who has the time? Even though you may have built-in relationships with parents of your child’s peers, you may long for someone who wants to discuss fractals and Toni Morrison rather than preparations for the next birthday party.
The school might be the last place you want to be tirelessly advocating. If your memories of school are less than stellar, having to meet with teachers and confront them about your child’s frustrations may create extra anxiety and a desire to break things.
You feel a particularly compelling love and an extraordinary sense of responsibility. This might be terrifying.
What can be done:
I bet you know what I am going to say. You must find support for yourself. Your child will benefit as you model self-compassion and you take breaks from parenting. I know there are particular circumstances where time for yourself will seem impossible. But you are creative. If you know this is essential for your child’s well-being, you will find a way. If you think you are supposed to be a perfect parent because you are so smart, think again. Build that village. If you experienced trauma as a child, find a therapist. Talk to someone who understands giftedness about your own early frustrations and loneliness. Keep a journal. Make art. Move your body. Find resources on boundary setting, sensitivity, and twice-exceptionality. Join or create a Facebook group. Dance it out.
I am not sure what to tell you about the terrifying part of parenting. This might be a time when denial and compartmentalization come in handy. Or religion. Or your witchy ancestors. Maybe it is helpful to know you are not alone in your fears. Or to read this soothing poem by Kahlil Gibran.
And finally, if you are the parent of a gifted child and you are also gifted, there is very good news and a little not-so-good news. But, hey, if all else fails, just let it go, let it go, be one with the wind and sky, let the storm rage on (um, for those of you who don’t know, that is from Frozen, I’m not really telling you to let it go!)… Doo doo doo doo doo doo. (um, for those of you who don’t recognize this, it’s from Baby Shark, click on the link)
To my dearest bloggEEs: If you are a parent, how are you doing? What is your good news and not-so-good news? If you are a child of a parent, what would you tell parents that was helpful when you were younger? Sharing your experiences in the comments makes this blog so much richer. Thank you. And thanks to the reader who suggested this topic. Much love to you all.
(Note: For those of you who are eager to know about my next book, Saving Your Rainforest Mind: A Guided Journal for the Exceedingly Curious, Creative, Smart, & Sensitive, we are in the layout stage. I think we have a cover design! I will keep you posted.)
(Another note: For those of you waiting to hear more about my sound channeling, I’m giving that project a bit less of a priority, probably because it is way out of my comfort zone. But I will let you know when I have something to share.)