I’m going out on a limb here: parenting the gifted is freaking exhausting. For eleven years it’s been a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. I feel like we just left the terrible twos, and now we’re staring down the barrel of adolescence. It’s more than a little terrifying. Our son is still 2e, still as intense as they come, still chockablock with over-excitabilities…but now there’s something extra there. Something a little discordant, like a badly out of tune musician in an ensemble.

It’s attitude. Or, should I say, ATTITUDE. And as with everything in his past, it’s more. It’s an attitude with greater range, more depth, and certainly more intensity. Everything is run through his quirky filters, and there are no grey areas. Black/white, up/down, right/wrong. This is where he’s driving me guano crazy. If I am right, and I most certainly am because I am always right, then you are wrong and I must inform you of this with great ferocity and volume. Give me strength.

He has not yet learned that it is often better to be kind than right. I am grateful that for the most part he has contained his ATTITUDE within the four walls of the House of Chaos, but it’s only a matter of time before it escapes into the wild and causes no end of trouble. Because under that I am right so therefore you are not ATTITUDE is an extremely sensitive young man.

As you read this I am in Milwaukee, for the annual Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted conference. I am unreasonably excited about going, not only because I will finally get to meet a lot of people who live in my computer, but because it is this very area of giftedness that exhausts fascinates me the most. I believe very deeply that giftedness is wiring, and an intricate part of that wiring is the emotional aspect. I homeschool our son, and am more or less confident that I can feed his intense curiosity and thirst for learning. It’s the other bits that throw me, because he’s so very much like me and so very much unlike me. Oh, and because he is more. So very, very more.

To be right or be kind. Something my son needs to learn, not because I say so but because it’s a life skill that doesn’t come naturally to him. And because his younger brother would really like to be right for a change.


Jen writes at Laughing at Chaos, and is the author of If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional, to be published Summer 2012 by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press.


11 thoughts on “To be right or be kind

  1. Really interesting. I think we all wonder what happens during adolescence. 🙂 I wonder what he says when you tell him sometimes it’s better to be kind than to be right. I wonder if he thinks it’s unkind not to tell people when he thinks they are wrong? Do you think he worries about the effects, what might happen to them? He’s probably aware he thinks the most. He may not do this with people he doesn’t care that much about (why so far it’s mostly contained within the House of Chaos :). Once he’s worked up, it might be hard to get his thinking out of him. I find many gifted adults don’t even realize they take the weight of the world on their shoulders. Jealous you’re going to SENG. Eager to hear what you learn. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I have no idea what he’s thinking. I suspect he’s blocking out my voice, to protect his heart. He is generally a VERY kind boy, and is so loving to younger kids and those who need help. But dang, when he gets the “need to be RIGHT” bee in his ear…whew.

  2. I just remembered something a highly sensitive and gifted masseuse told me: You may very well be right, but everyone has his/her own life’s journey. Maybe autonomy is something a teen would understand (in quieter moments, not moments of high intensity.)

  3. My son reminds me so much of myself and my need to be right when I was young. I wish I could recall what changed my attitude(to kind vs. right), I know it wasn’t until I was in late teens or 20’s. I’m sure it was just loads of patience from my parents and observing them being kind to others and TONS of maturity!

  4. I have a new favorite phrase: guano crazy! Thank you!! (mom to highly gifted 11 going on 12 (or 35) dd, who has a little brother that never gets a chance…)

    1. Ahem…I, uh…tamed the actual phrase. It’s a little more…well, take batsnot crazy and swap a certain four-letter word for “snot” and there ya go. 😉

  5. When I read the title, I was thinking, oh, she’s going to talk about parenting –ha ha.

    My younger daughter (11 yrs going into 6th grade) is usually pretty good about that, but she does have her moments. My older daughter was more into correcting people. She had to learn how to do it tactfully. I guess I gave her a lot of leeway in this area because I could see a lot of myself in her –especially when someone mispronounces a word (and English is their mother tongue).

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