Reviewed by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
In classic Delisle style, Parenting gifted kids: Tips for raising happy and successful children frankly addresses many issues parents frequently face. If the reader is a parent who is just beginning the journey of raising a gifted child, this book will not only provide practical advice, but it will cut through the clutter similar books are laden with. If the reader is a well-read parent, this book will feel validating and helpful. With chapters aptly named “Understand what gifted is... and what it is not,” “Take charge of your child’s education” and “Make a life, not just a living,” readers are immediately aware of Dr. Jim Delisle’s powerfully clear message.
While parenting in general is chock-full of pitfalls and second guessing, parenting gifted kids can be even more exhausting and mystifying, as they are indeed exceptional, and public sympathy for these parents’ plight is even less encouraging. In this book, however, Dr. Delisle gives parents tools and strategies for understanding their children’s overexcitabilities, building meaning in their lives and working with the school systems that fail them.
In “Taking charge of your child’s education” (Chapter 4), Dr. Delisle explains simply his views on acceleration. “Moving along at the pace that accommodates one’s learning abilities does not involve acceleration as much as does catching up” (p. 54). What does Dr. Delisle think of differentiation? On page 52 he states, “Differentiation and cooperative learning were, and continue to be, the equivalents of an education train wreck for gifted students.” While this reviewer wouldn’t recommend a parent using these exact words when communicating with administrators, this statement and its explanation give parents insight they can use when planning appropriate accommodations for their children.
Concerned about multipotientiality? In Chapter 8, “Write your dreams in pencil,” Dr. Delisle gives parents a constructive plan for how to help their child work through this concern. Is 12 or 16 or 18 too young to ask what a young person wants to be at 35 years old? He states unmistakably, “Yes, it is” (p. 150), but there’s hope. This chapter discusses in depth the complexities of this oft unsettling parental concern.
Though interwoven throughout the book, “Make a life, not just a living” (Chapter 9), extends the discussion of character building. Dr. Delisle provides inventive ways for parents to foster meaning in their lives. As he points out, “to live a life of hollow achievements dries up even the most ardent of spirits” (p. 161).
Parents often wonder how to address their child’s feelings of being different. How can they assist their son or daughter in understanding these feelings, and/ or handle other children who aren’t their true peers, but rather their age mates? Delisle addresses it plainly, “Tell your child the truth!” Naturally he delves into this concept with keen insight and clarity, stating plainly in Chapter 2, “Know the distinction between “Better at” and “Better than” (p. 21)!
Parenting gifted kids: Tips for raising happy and successful children is bound to be a book parents reach for time and time again to assist their exceptional children, advise each other and quote while advocating in their local schools!
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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