How to Bring up Gifted Children
My son has a fantastic genetic lineage. I know it, he has an inkling of it, we never discuss it. He is gifted and talented which I would have expected "normal" for him. What surprises me all the time, every time, is how wordly-wise he is. That does not come from genetics. He is so in tune with his surroundings and the people around him I am convinced he is a bodhisattva brought to me that I may realize enlightenment in this lifetime. Maybe. At any rate, he did not learn being street-wise and world-wise from me. I cannot claim to be either of the two.
As a parent of a gifted and talented child, I am constantly challenged. I call verbal arguments with him "every day dokusan" which means a verbal combat between a Zen Master and his student. The one problem I have is distinguishing who from who.
Gifted children require very careful handling. On the one hand, they need to be loved and nurtured just like any other child. On the other hand, as parents we can Inspire, not compel, nudge, not command them. It does not go with their nature. As Spock said in one of the episodes of Star Trek, superior minds breed superior ambitions. Gifted children are wired differently. They think more and therefore you have to reason more. They will respond to reason not an outright command.
On the other hand, there are times when one has to assert their "parenthood" every once in a while. I do. The fact is that he can out think and out talk me on topics that I am not likely to think about. He is more aware of the current events than I am and he knows more history than I do. His vocabulary is twice as big as mine and when we discuss debate topics I am constantly surprised at this eloquence.
As I am a trained scientist, I know the scientific laws. They do not change very much. Their applications do change but I can pick up any scientific journal and connect with the contents with little difficulty, and I can be caught up with ten years of past research on a topic in a couple of days. I know I can not do that with current events and while I do love history, I only want to read bits and pieces of it so I can not have a complete picture.
One of the things I have always done is to always talk to him as if I he is an adult. When he was little he could be with his friends and be a child with them, but in the back of my mind I always held the thought that I am bringing up a child who has been gifted and that someday he would be able to use those talents in the service of his fellowmen, in whatever capacity he so chooses. Therefore I am not bringing up a child. I am bringing up an adult in a child's body.
Yes, just like other children, they need to be loved unconditionally, but they also need to be reminded of accepting everyone as they are and enjoying everyone as they are.
Here are the following tips that I have found useful.
1. With privilege comes responsibility. Different sides of the same coin.
2. To those who are given much, much is required, not necessarily in terms of money but in terms of talent as well.
3. It matters little how the others perceive you, it is how you perceive yourself that matters.
4. The golden rule is golden because it really is. Do not do unto others.
5. Every man, regardless of their station in life, must be treated equally until otherwise necessary to not do so.
6. That which you love to do will always give you the greatest happiness and therefore the greatest reward.
7. For every action, there is a consequence, therefore choose your actions well.
8. Between everything else and love, choose love. Always. An action coming from a space of love will always be effective and complete.
I think this will be true of any child, gifted or not. It is the delivery of the message that is crucial. With a gifted child it has to always be delivered with "In my opinion, this is so and so..but you are free to think and act as you please, after all, you can think and decide for yourself with one caveat. You do not harm yourself or others."
© 2009 by Melinda M. Sorensson