They have the IEP, the ALP, the 504. They have afterschooling, summer camps, tutors. They have occupational therapy, vision therapy, therapy therapy. They have robotics class, debate team, competitive dance. They have classes and events and mentors.
In a perfect world, gifted kids have these supports. In a perfect world. I’m fully aware that not every gifted or twice-exceptional child has these opportunities, but they exist. They may be expensive, they may be difficult to find, they may be a pain in the neck to schedule and attend, but they exist.
But what about their parents? What’s out there for them?
Yes, there are SENG parenting groups, but they’re few and far between, and are only for a short period of time. Anything else?
<crickets…truck passing down the road…rustling in the bushes that may or may not be a skunk but your dog will surely let you know with great glee-turned-horror>
I’m even going to get a bit more specific. What is out there for parents that isn’t advocacy or ways to help your kid, but specifically for parents?
Not.Much. And it’s frustrating as hell. Here are these incredible kids, we have the honor and frustration of raising them, and the support that is so desperately needed just isn’t there. Our kids aren’t in parenting magazines or most parenting books. Our kids and our parenting needs are here and there on the internet, but are often shouted down by other, more mainstream publications. Last week a Babycenter writer posted a rather insensitive ditty about her perception of gifted kids and their parents. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I fired off a passionate response. And my little piece of the interwebz exploded. The frustration, the pain, the deep need for connection from the parents (mostly moms) who commented left me in tears for days. My own emotional over-excitabilities went into overdrive, my heart breaking for all the parents out there (including me) who were struggling trying to raise these incredible kids, with little organized support but plenty of condescending scorn from society.
I would love nothing more than to see support groups for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids. Not to figure out ways to advocate for state funding or 101 ways to convince the school to reverse its cranial-rectal inversion, but parenting. What to do when your kid has a five alarm meltdown over something so trivial your own brain twists itself into a question mark. How to keep your marriage strong when neither partner has the emotional strength to converse after an insanely difficult day. Ways to change the subject when well-meaning family members opine about your child with great fervor. I’d love to see family get-togethers where everyone there is in the same leaky boat and askance looks and snide comments don’t exist. Wine tastings. Lots and lots of wine tastings. Little talk of advocacy or school situations, but lots of I got your back and I know you got mine. If there’s already something like this out there, I haven’t heard about it, and please share if you have.
These amazing kids came into our lives, throwing us into Advanced Parenting (prerequisite: gestation), and our village doesn’t know what to do with us. We need our own neighborhood in the village, where the hearts and souls and brains of gifted kids and their parents can roam free.
Who’s with me?
Jen writes over at Laughing at Chaos.