I’ve always thought Barbara Streisand’s song was weird. “People . . . people who need people . . . are the luckiest people in the world,” as though a human walks this planet that doesn’t need people.
The truth is, we are bio-evolutionarily designed to need people. Back in the day our basic survival depended on belonging to a community, and it takes an extraordinarily long time for our brains to catch up with the changes in the world, so we continue to be pre-programmed to need quality relationships.
Yes, introverts also need plenty of space and alone time. Yes, some people need more friends than others to feel content. But, at the end of the day, we need people. We especially need people who understand our day to day experience. People who simply “get” us.
This can be tricky for gifted kids, but I’m not going to be writing about that today. Today we’re going to set aside our kids for a second and focus on our own need for community. For as tricky as it is for gifted kids to find their peers, it is just as complicated for parents of gifted kids to find their peers.
I remember being in a playgroup when my oldest was a toddler. His vocabulary and attention span far exceeded other kids in the group. Parents would comment about how easy it must be for me since he could be such a good listener and could express his needs. And there was some truth to that. But, there was also some downsides. He was more sensitive, empathetic, and imaginative than other kids – so there were night terrors and excessive caregiving attempts and logically negotiating from the age of 2. Whenever I tried to bring these things up, or ask for support from other parents regarding how to answer the big, tough questions my kid asked, like the 3-year-old asking “does it hurt when we die?”, the other parents would stare at me blankly. They simply couldn’t relate.
I learned very quickly what I could and could not share within a group of typical parents. And the truth was, most of the bigger struggles of my parenting experience were not relatable to parents of more typically wired kids. I also had to be careful about sharing the bigger joys of my parenting experience, as many parents would feel I was bragging. Really, I was just looking for connection and understanding. I was looking for my people.
This parenting of intense, gifted kiddos is intense work. These kids ask the big questions, feel the big feels, engage in life with full force. It can be very hard. And we need people walking alongside of us who get it. We need to be able to share our parenting experiences with other parents who relate. We need to be able to be understood when we talk about our worries that our kids aren’t being challenged enough academically or to share our struggles to set appropriate expectations given the asynchrony of our child. We are people who need people.
That’s all well and good, but how do we find these people?
Join us at the WATG annual conference. We have sessions designed specifically to support parents. We have a room set aside to foster connection between parents. We have other parents who get it.
Search out a SENG Parent Support Group in your area.
Talk to your GT coordinator to see what resources are available or to coordinate your own parent connection time.
Join the Wisgift listserv, or
Seek out online support – there are facebook groups, blogs, websites, podcasts.
Connect with your child’s friend’s parents. We tend to form relationships with people of similar intelligence, and chances are, those parents will relate..
Remember to take care of your own needs as a gifted adult, as well. Join book studies. Audit college classes. Find gifted adult support groups online. Check out Mensa groups in your area. Audition for a community theater production. Take an art class. Do things that will more likely put you into contact with other similarly wired adults.
Remember . . . people need people. It can often feel isolating or impossible to find other parents or adults like you. But they are out there. Promise.
Gifted @ Home
Heather Boorman, MSW, LCSW