One of the hardest things to contend with as a parent of a highly gifted child is the lack of honest and worthy relationships that our children seem to be able to find among kids of their own age. There's a good reason for that: often, highly gifted children's best friends and relationships are formed by kids who are far different in age than they are. No worries though, as there are solutions to this perplexing dilemma.
* Encourage your PG child to make friends with people of all ages. The only time in life when people are pigeonholed by their chronological age is during childhood. Once we reach adolescence (or slightly beyond) we come to realize that age is seldom a barometer in whether or not we want to affiliate with other people. A 35 year old having dinner with a 45 year old? No big deal. But if a 12 year old wants to dine with a 22-year old, all kinds of eyebrows are raised. Remember: age is relative, unless you're very young…and then, it still might be.
* There is a difference between an agemate and a peer. Just because someone was born in the same year that I was, doesn't mean we are peers. We might have a lot or nothing in common, but age is seldom a factor in acceptance when it comes to PG kids. Let them know that if they don't get along with kids their own age, that doesn't mean there is something wrong with them. In fact, it might mean that something is right with them: that they want legitimate social relationships that don’t use age as the primary criterion.
* One good friend is better than having 20 people who like you but don't really know you. Growing up can be an arduous process for trying to fit in, especially for PG kids who wonder if they fit anywhere at all, socially. Let them know that, as adults, we have one or two close friends in our social milieu, and that is often quite sufficient. That might not be typical in middle school for most kids, but if it is for YOUR PG kid…then welcome to the adult world of social connections. I don't want even a single PG kid to feel lesser of him or herself because they like "failures" for not being the school's social butterfly.
Socialization of PG kids does not have to be tortuous or lonely. All our kids need to understand is that what is "typical" in social relationships among kids their ages might not be true for them. This doesn't cast aspersions on anyone; it merely accentuates the fact that being gifted involves as much of the heart as it does the mind.
Your PG kids will be fine once they find their social niche. And trust me…with rare exception, they will find it.
IntroductionWhen this seminar began, I had hoped to be able to offer some concrete advice on how to help your PG kids get more tuned in to the socialization arena (if they needed that), continue to progress as the social beings that they are (success breeds success!), or to come to understand that the "rules" of socialization are often unwritten and are neither universally understood nor applied (by adults or kids!). What I came to learn, thanks to the many on-line respondents who shared both advice and solace, was that all I needed to do was put out a "teaser" comment or example, and the rest of you filled in the blanks with stories from your own kids' lives. I may have been the "Captain," but it was the "crew" who came through and did the hardest work. Thank you...and thank each other!
Tentative FindingsAs I read each posting on this topic, I jotted down some notes about the more common pieces of wisdom and experience shared among those who participated. Here are several of them:
Tentative Conclusions (I LOVE oxymoron's)
I hope you enjoyed this on-line seminar and that this synopsis does, indeed, reflect the views of many of you who participated in it. Take care. Hug those kids!
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