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New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education's Blog

What's the Story? 

Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.

 

A Stranger in a Strange Land

Zombies, minefields and other perils of parenting the gifted

 

My parents may be zombies, but at least they appreciate my brains!

 

I am ashamed to say it, but there was a moment, just a fleeting moment, as my child lay anaesthetised, that I prayed the CT scan would show something wrong with his brain so we could fix it - or at the very least understand what was going on. We were so severely sleep deprived that we were the walking dead; non-functional zombies, simply performing the basics in life and moving one small step at a time, barely able to respond to our toddler's day-to-day needs. The lack of sleep was destroying us. When the paediatrician had the audacity to tell us there was nothing wrong and that our child was simply bright and spent a lot of time taking in his world, I was livid. How was that going to help us survive? As it was apparent there was a no returns policy for our child's alertness, we simply had to stumble on, blind to what the future might bring. There are so many stories like this from parents of gifted kids, but of course not everyone's journey begins like this.  

However, regardless of how and when you begin the journey of discovery about your child's giftedness, there seems to be one commonality among parents and caregivers, a painful wince at the thought that you are, or will be, judged for who your child is and that lonely feeling that creeps in alongside this thought, as you begin to realise the impact of this for you, your family...your child. I understand. You are not alone. Truly.  

Yes, it is real that many will judge. Talking about our children, their abilities and qualities, behaviours and needs, can be a minefield. Family relationships can become fraught and friendships fragile. This is a reality for many. However, something really special comes along too: an opportunity to find community among other families who share in these experiences. I lost my best friend to being seen as "hot-housing" my child. He was, in actuality, an avid and early self-taught reader, but ... I gained a new best friend. One who has stuck around through thick and thin, eager to hear what amazing things my children have been up to and, equally, understanding about the challenges unique to gifted kids and their families.  

What's more, the gifted community is extensive, stretching end to end in New Zealand, and across borders to all the countries of the world. These families come from all walks of life and bring with them a range of values, beliefs and experiences; a rich wealth of perspectives that can wrap around you, giving you a feeling of warmth and comfort in the form of understanding and belonging.  They provide a safe haven to share, learn and grow stronger as a parent/carer. They will become your peers, your advocates in arms and, in some instances, your friends. Furthermore, this is the very community in which your children will have the chance to meet like-minded peers who can blossom into friends – forming deep connections based on strength

"...you think you know what I’m thinking right now. You fear I’m judging you. But here’s the thing: I see you, and I see him...put simply, your son is a poppy. I have three of my own, and I get it...I see you Poppy parent."

My Little Poppies 

It can, however, be difficult to know where to go and how to tap into these communities. In New Zealand we are very fortunate to have a number of charitable organisations working to support gifted kids. The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education offers classes to bring like-minded youngsters together to learn and socialise together. Face to face classes open up the opportunity for informally meeting other parents who also have children enrolled. The New Zealand Association for Gifted Children is another avenue, providing online forums for parents/caregivers to seek advice from each other about all things gifted, regional groups in a number of areas across the country for families to gather for activities, and annual conferences to extend and engage the minds of all, with the added bonus of meeting others in the same waka. 

Beyond this, there are many online networks to link in with across social media platforms. While being able to follow the pages of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted EducationNew Zealand Association for Gifted Children, and Practical ways to support gifted anxious kids on Facebook, for example, there are also international Facebook groups such as SENG and Hoagies Gifted Education Page who each share a wealth of information and resources through their posts. Furthermore, there are also national groups you can join to be able to engage in conversation, pose questions and share resources. Some of these are: 

 

So no matter where you are in your journey as a parent or caregiver of a child who is gifted, please remember, you are not alone. Reach out and connect to your community, and know that we do indeed understand. Truly. 

  

 

'What's the Story?' is a new blog section which is being written for the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, with posts being added regularly. The purpose of this space is to share musings and anecdotes relating to giftedness and gifted education to provide a form of information and support for those living with and/or teaching gifted learners. Please do share them along.

 

We would love to hear from you.  Grab a virtual cuppa and share your story in the comments.

What's the Story? Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.

 

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Please note that the views expressed in these blogs are those of the author and not necessarily representative of the views of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.

 Image credit: IMG_0052_20130324 "Standing Firm" by Kesara Rathnayake is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. The image has been modified. Support for champions by Social Innovation Camp is licensed under CC BY 2.0. The image has been modified.

 

 

Stranger in a Strange Land

 
 
 
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