Friday, August 22, 2014

When Parenting Is Hard...

Sometimes parenting is hard.  We all kind of knew that.  But you don't really know until you're in the midst of it.  The middle of the night wake ups.  The rolling on the floor tantrums.  The ten different pants to get the ones that feel just right.  The deep, soul-searching conversations and the questions that sometimes don't have answers.

It's especially hard when you're parenting children with special needs.  Children take a lot out of you, but special needs children take until you feel like you don't have any more to give.  Until you know you don't have any more to give.

And it's even harder when your child with special needs is not accepted as a child with special needs.  You know the line, "Oh your child is SO bright; life must be all sunshine and roses and easy."  Maybe they don't say that but there is a side of raising a gifted child that no one sees.  No one can quite understand the intensity if they don't experience it daily.

Some days it feels hard.  Harder than it should be.

You can feel so alone.  Your child just doesn't fit.  Even in a playgroup with children their same age, it's just a little off.  The things that work for other kids, for other parents just don't work.

It's just so hard.

I'm hear to say I understand.  I've been there.  I am there.  And while I'm struggling through it as well, I've found some things that help.

Here are 5 ways to help you fight the hard feelings:

1.  Find a support network.
If you feel like you don't fit in, you're probably right.  If the playgroups or parents group you're in doesn't feel like it's meeting your needs, keep looking!  Try to find a local organization for parents of specifically gifted children.  If there isn't one locally, consider starting one yourself.  You can also seek out a long-distance friend with children like yours.  The internet makes our world bigger and smaller at the same time.  Some of our best friends live in other cities and states around the country.

2.  Educate Yourself
Sometimes it helps to have an explanation for why your child might be doing something.  It helpsto know that they really are "normal" (whatever that means!).  I can't count the number of times people have come to me expressing relief, gratitude, peace- someone who finally gets what it is like!  While you may not have a supportive local community, there are many resource at your hands.  Read books about being gifted, join an online web community, or find blogs of other gifted parents.  The more you know, the better able to parent your child.

3.  Advocate for Your Child- and Yourself
Most people don't really understand what being gifted actually means. Sometimes, it's as simple as educating people.  In a kind and affirming way, let them know who your child is and why. You don't have to say "My child is gifted, so...."  You can simply let them know your child has certain needs and preferences- just like we all do.  Child deserve respect for who they are just the same as anyone else, and it's up to you as their parent and advocate to make sure they get it.

4.  Give Yourself Grace
We all have good days and bad days.  On the days that are long, give yourself grace to fail and grace to move on.  Don't hold on to your bad days.  Ask for forgiveness, learn from your mistakes and make peace with the parent that you are in the process of becoming.

5.  Look for the Blessings
Sometimes in the midst of parenting difficulties, it's helpful to look not at what's missing but at what's right in front of you.  Yes, your freezer may be full of underwear from your highly sensitive child but your nightstand is also decorated with her hand-picked flowers.  For everything that frustrates you, find five things that delight you.  Write them down if you need to in order to remember.

What other ways have you found to cope with the challenges of parenting a gifted child?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Again, excellent posts. They are truly helpful to me as a mother. I lost friends over my son; 25 year long elementary school friends. I was accused of bragging on my son. I stood up angrily and defended myself losing them. It hurt. Why? Because to me, it was not anywhere close to bragging. It was more of me venting the difficulties of raising my special needs child; I was desperate for someone to hear his stories in hopes they could understand and help. They never helped. They never understood my struggle because to them he is a well mannered adult like child that could go to dinner with us and even join the adult conversation. He was the only child allowed at our once a week dinners as he didn't crawl under the tables or have tantrums (yes all children do but it's for different reasons than sitting still with adults at dinner). He needs stimulation, but he could bring a book or electronic learning device and be happy. I didn't know this exception to allow him would back fire. To me, it was only necessary since my husband worked evenings, and I have little to no help. I spent every evening after my stressful purchasing management position alone with my son the only child who happens to be gifted but wasn't identified yet, I just knew he was unlike any other child I knew. I have a close bond with him emotionally and we speak very open and honest to each other. My friends recognized he was different and intelligent and that I put a lot of effort into giving him special attention to cater to his intellect such as museum trips. Naturally, I spoke about these trips, my son, what I do as a Mom to challenge his mind, what he achieves, how his brain works, his oddities, my frustrations, etc. hoping for more ideas, help, and support. I wanted to fit in as a parent like he desired with his peers. However, all they heard was me bragging. When my son played with their children and quizzed them with math facts, animal facts, passionate desire to study paleontology and quizzed other kids on dinosaur names, and corrected their English grammar all they heard was bragging. When all he wanted was another child to discuss grammaticality correct his passion for knowledge.
    I would always be asked from my own family, friends, and strangers what I did to raise a smart, caring, and well behaved young man. I had no answer, but I was blessed. They didn't see the struggles at home that I experienced. Such as his worry of death, his shaking in fear if he felt he accidentally caused harm to one of our pets, the non-stop quizzing of a working Mom who leads a team of 10 everyday to only come home for another 5 hours of questions, the fear of his social awkwardness, the explanations of how correcting ones grammar doesn't make friends, defending your child's sensitivity to your husband who is confused by it, etc etc. All they seen was the well mannered, well spoken, and intelligent young man that I am raising.
    My son and I have both learned that keeping his giftedness' on the down low to other children and parents prevents us from being out casted more. However, we have found those relationships required with those who do understand or family who sees my struggles and is compassionate just willing to listen.
    I hope to help educate more expecting parents of the signs of gifted children and encourage them to join support groups if indeed their child is gifted.


I love to hear your feedback! This website is intended to be a welcoming and safe space for parents and advocates of the gifted. All wholesome and encouraging questions are invited, as well as questions or concerns relating to gifted topics.