Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Start a Parent's Group

"It's so hard to find like-minded parents."

I hear this so often from parents of gifted children.  They just want other parents to talk to who understand what it's like to parent a child who is so different from their peers.  They want to be able to converse with their two year old without people staring when he uses high level vocabulary.  They want to be able to chat with other mothers without being asked if they use flashcards or being quizzed on their parenting strategies.  

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  If gifted children are only 5% of the population than gifted parents are only 5% of the parenting population.  So for every 100 parents you meet only 5 might understand what it's like to be a parent of a gifted child.*

The sheer numbers of it explain why it might be hard for you to connect with other parents who are in your same situation especially if you are not in a school environment.

If you are having trouble finding a community organization focused on meeting the needs of parents and children who are gifted, consider starting one yourself!

Here are a few tips for starting a parenting group in your community.

1.  Get the Word Out!
Social media makes meeting people so much easier.  Post your parents group on Facebook, Meet Up or other sites to widen your reach.  If your children are school age, consider posting a flyer at their school.  For small children, post your information at a local park, library or other community organization.

2.  Provide information.
We gifted parents are information junkies- just like our children!  Consider doing a book study, watching a video seminar, or inviting a guest speaker to help parents gather more information on being gifted.  By providing accurate information on giftedness, you will also help draw in parents who really need to be served by this unique group.

3.  Provide Activities.
Work with other parents to create the kind of parent and child group you would all enjoy.  Consider tailoring your activities to the interests of your children with guest speakers, science demonstrations, hands on activities and fast-paced learning themes.  Give your children opportunities to practice social skills they may be lacking- consider including discussions, role plays, and other socially engaging activities to help in this area.

4. Be inclusive.
Sure everyone thinks their child is gifted.  While you may get people who attend whose children may not be gifted in the actual sense of the world, it never hurts to educate people!

5.  Be supportive.
There are many ways to parent all children, even gifted children.  Be supporting of opposing (but not incorrect) parenting styles.  We are each the perfect parent for our own children.  Strategies that work for one gifted child may not work for another.  Try to find common ground and encourage other parents in their process of parenting.  Offer advice only when it is solicited, and sparingly at that.

Have you started your own parents' group?  Are you involved in a parents' group? Do you have any advice or suggestions for other parents?

*I understand this is a simple calculation.  Of course most children have two parents, but also many parents have more than one child.  This is primarily illustrative and not necessarily quantitatively accurate.

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