After raising my two daughters —one highly gifted and one twice-exceptional--and experiencing all the agony and ecstasy that that little phrase fails to convey, I decided to coach parents of gifted daughters. Although I had an MSW and had worked with children and families as a direct service provider and a researcher for over 15 years, I still felt like I was basically “flying blind” when my children were growing up, trying to meet their unique educational, social and emotional needs. This situation was exacerbated by the mixed messages I received from my community. On one hand, I was told: “All kids are gifted” (and, therefore, my child shouldn’t be given any special consideration) and, conversely that: “Your child is so bright, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” However, the reality, especially for my exceptionally gifted older child, was that, in my heart, I knew that her environment was not ideal...that she had special needs I was unable to meet. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t find a challenging learning situation for her (even in Palo Alto!) or adequately address her social and emotional issues. I often felt isolated and helpless, and worried a lot about how I was failing as a parent.
Fortunately, we somehow survived, using a piecemeal approach, desperately seeking out various counselors, therapists, extracurricular activities, tutors and a few caring educators as issues and crises arose during different developmental stages. But I realized that having the support of a parent (AND a professional) who’s “been there and done that”, openly sharing their wisdom, support and encouragement, as well as providing information on female giftedness, would have been invaluable.
But, before coaching parents of gifted, I wanted to learn more about all the relevant issues involved. Upon entering the world of gifted, what I found out right off the bat is that mothers don’t have much of a voice--unlike the professionals in this field. Despite the fact that raising a successful gifted daughter (in our sexist, anti-intellectual culture) is a huge achievement, the wisdom of women who have accomplished this is often lost. Therefore, I came up with the idea of interviewing mothers, like myself, who had been there and done that, in order to share their insights with moms currently raising gifted girls. Forty-three moms of 58 successful adult gifted daughters volunteered for the study, and shared their invaluable insights about each of their unique parenting journeys. This study benefitted greatly from the scholarly eyes of Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University and Dr. Paula Wilkes of Summit Center/Los Angeles.
I would love to share both the wisdom of these mothers as well as my own parenting and professional expertise with you to support your efforts in addressing your gifted child’s unique social, emotional and educational needs. By sharing stories of our discoveries, struggles and successes, we can tap into the joy of growth and adventure that parenting exceptionally bright children can bring, and identify effective strategies for nurturing their high potential.
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