“My ten-year-old, Christopher, is getting failing grades. I think he has ADHD. He may be in the principal’s office more than he’s in the classroom. His camp counselor told me that he might be gifted but how’s that possible? If he were gifted, he’d be getting A’s, wouldn’t he? I don’t know what to do anymore. I get so angry with him but it doesn’t help. He just withdraws or acts out and I feel like a jerk. I hear my father’s words coming out of my mouth and then I hate myself. What can I do?”
William came to see me for counseling because he was frustrated and discouraged. He felt lost and alone. He was a single dad whose alcoholic ex-wife came and went in their son’s life. Christopher was smart, highly sensitive and confused. He felt abandoned by his mother and misunderstood by his teachers. Achieving in school was the last thing on his mind.
It became clear to me that Christopher was indeed gifted. William described him as an early reader, extremely curious and extraordinarily perceptive. He had difficulty controlling his intense emotions and showed sensitivity and empathy when he wasn’t feeling threatened by the bullies at school.
As I described the traits of the rainforest-minded and convinced William that his son fit the bill, I asked William to tell me more about himself. I suspected that he was also gifted as I experienced his articulate descriptions, depth of sensitivity, creative ideas and broad range of self-taught abilities.
Here’s the thing: When you find a gifted child, a parent who is gifted isn’t far behind. Not always, of course. Sometimes it’s a grandparent or your wild Aunt Nellie. But I see this phenomenon again and again. The more you recognize and understand your rainforest mind, the more you will understand your child.
William was a rebel in high school. Skipping classes, smoking pot. His father was an abusive alcoholic and his mother was ineffective. He dropped out of school his senior year yet managed to teach himself enough about computers to land a good job designing video games. But because he’d been unsuccessful academically, he didn’t believe that he was gifted. It took some convincing.
After we spent time looking at ways William could problem solve with Christopher’s teachers and communicate more effectively with his son, I knew we had to look at William’s childhood experiences if we were going to make any lasting change. William was ready and able to handle a depth approach.
Using relaxation techniques and gentle guided visualizations, we discovered a sad, lonely young boy in William’s psyche who needed his compassion, attention and love. It’s a complex process that takes courage and sensitivity but, over time, William connected with this child, saw his sweetness and vulnerability and accepted him into his heart.
Not surprisingly, once William accepted himself, he could see Christopher more clearly and appreciate his struggles. William’s anger was less easily triggered and he was able to recognize his son’s giftedness. Christopher then relaxed enough to cooperate more in school and begin to excel. The two of them spent quality time hiking, telling stories, laughing and playing video games. Enjoying their rainforest minds.
And connecting with their sweetness, their vulnerability, and their loving hearts.
This post is part of a collection of blog posts on the topic of giftedness over the life span. Click on the link to read more great posts by parents and professionals: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blog-hops/gifted-ages-stages/
To my blogEEs: As I’m sure you know, names and identifying information are changed when I talk about clients. What do you think of this post? Do you see other gifted individuals in your family? Have you had similar problems with your child? What questions does this bring up? And, as always, I love hearing from you. If you don’t want to comment publicly, you can contact me via the About page.