Raising A Gifted Child – A Mom’s Perpective of Her Teen
When children start preschool and begin the formal educational process, every parent hopes that their child will be able to grasp the concepts and tasks presented to them, such as learning the alphabet, writing their name, or understanding addition and subtraction. As the child moves through the different levels of learning, most parents are more than happy with their child’s progress when their kids successfully accomplish certain goals and pass the qualifying hurdles presented to them.
What happens then when your child not only succeeds in passing the qualifiers, but exceeds them to a point where the parent is approached by a specialty instructor to ask if your child can be tested for the gifted program. What do you do when it seems your child is able to comprehend ideas and perform tasks more easily and quickly than their peers.
If you child passes this “gifted” test with flying colors, what does this mean for the parent? I thought it meant that the teachers would handle my daughter being smart and I wouldn’t have to do too much. Not that I didn’t wish to help, but I didn’t know really what to do. Yes, she may be smart beyond her years, but how could I help her with this and what did this really mean? It meant a lot more than I realized. When you have a gifted child, it isn’t just about them being smart, it means that they can process their thinking very differently than other children.
I guess I knew early on that my daughter engaged in a special way, because she would ask questions about things I had not heard kids her age ask. She was so inquisitive and philosophical about the world, relationships or just the things around her. With her entry into an accelerated learning program, I was introduced to more than I expected. Now I had to understand fully that she processed relationships, emotions, and interact differently. I needed to educate myself on how I could help with her this new approach, and also myself.
This was another lesson to learn for me as a parent. I have only one child, so I had to learn everything from scratch, and then I needed to learn more because I was advised that her brain works in a unique way. The way I communicate with her has to be different if I expect her to understand what I am saying. It is not that she can’t hear me, but it is because her brain accepts the words and concepts different than other kids. Not better, just different. And that is another thing I needed to understand and have other people understand too. She isn’t necessarily smarter than other kids…she is just able to process information differently. And sometimes this does mean she can “get” the concepts of what she is learning easier than other kids.
And that comes with its own issues and added problems for her too. Her relationships with her friends and peers are constantly changing. Her interests are at times different than other kids and it can be tough for her to be separated or separate herself from the normally of growing up and being accepted by her peers.
Parents do not want to see their kids unhappy, but then there are times we can’t do too much about that, because frankly we are not sure how to handle the situation in the best interest of everyone involved. It can really be a confusing trying time for the parent and child involved. I have heard my daughter say that she thinks both I and her teachers expect her to be perfect. And no matter how much I tell her that I don’t need her to be perfect, there is a cloud over her all the time that makes her feel pressure to be perfect. That is hard for me to understand, because it is not what I want for her at all. And my daughter and I have had many arguments over our differing perception.
As a parent I want the best for her (as do all parents) but I never want her to be pushed so hard she is unhappy anymore. So I have told her from the start, “If ever this gets too much and you don’t feel like you want to be a part of the gifted program, you can let me know.”
This past year she was in a math class where the students were learning high school and some college level math strategies and it got tough for her. She told me she wasn’t enjoying it anymore. She really likes to be challenged, but she doesn’t like to be overwhelmed, and when it gets too hard she wants to take a break. I agree she should, so she asked me if it would be okay to just take the advanced level of the class next year instead of the gifted math class. I told her if that is what she wanted than it is fine.
In the interest of full disclosure, there are times when she gets a lower grade then I expected her to get, and I question her if she asked for help on the subject matter. She doesn’t like when I do this because she feels that I am disappointed in her for the grade she got. And that really isn’t it at all. I just want her to ask for help when is has trouble understanding something…and to me that is what the teachers are there for to help her with those concepts she may not be understanding. This is point of contention for us…she thinks I want her to be perfect and that is not it at all. I just wish for her to be sure she is at least asking for the help she deserves to receive because I don’t expect her to understand every single thing she learns. I don’t think anyone get all they are taught. We are working on this.
With any child, we want the best education for them. And it is no different for a parent of a gifted child. However, because every child’s mind processes things differently, it can be tricky at times to understand how they come to the conclusions they do or why they react to circumstances. As a parent I am on a constant learning curve, and this is just another layer of understanding for me. I am working to be there for my daughter, and I also have to continuously be aware of in my interactions with her.
For you information, my daughter has written an article for this website on her perception of this subject. It is called Being Raised as a Gifted Child and her name is Amanda Davis.