A few years ago, I had an epiphany while experiencing my child in his natural, intellectually charged state. I remember the moment when I realized there is nothing normal about this kid and his entire life would unfold differently than whatever I might have envisioned for him. Every mainstream rite of passage has become irrelevant and most of his milestones have nothing to do with child development. This life thing. We are just doing it a little differently.
We all have some vision of what parenthood will look like and most of us are underprepared for the unique responsibility of raising incredibly divergent, profoundly gifted children. Everything about my children’s natural temperaments has dictated my approach to parenting them and supporting their learning needs. While certain parenting concepts are instinctual, most mainstream approaches to raising profoundly gifted outliers will never suffice. These cognitively advanced, highly sensitive children pave their own way and parents are usually pulled along for the ride, ready or not. The sooner we understand our unique children and their atypical needs, the better off we are at supporting their psychosocial, emotional, creative and intellectual development.
My firstborn has a very sensitive intellect that he shares with others selectively. He exudes his general intellect openly but his true depth of mental acuity is reserved almost exclusively for me. As he matures, it has become quite clear that he is able to learn anything he is interested in with profound understanding and within a relatively short time. His interests are quite specific and often interrelate with the common thread being that his depth of knowledge in said areas will surpass most adults. He hoards facts and delights in releasing categorized information at the most opportune times. This is his normal.
His creatively intellectual prowess is both entertaining and overwhelming at times. That is the thing about incredibly abstract thinkers with a strong sense of justice, a complex moral high ground and an affinity for well crafted argument, they can be a lot to take in and you may have to be more engaged than you ever anticipated. Expect the unexpected and have knowledge at the ready. You never know when an impromptu dissertation will commence.
My youngest child expresses his over the top character in a delightful yet paradoxical way that, at times, elicits confusion. He feels so deeply and has a very strong sense of justice and loyalty coupled with an affinity for violence and a love of all things cute and colorful. His intense emotions are more challenging for me than my emotionally abled husband who steps in and comforts him empathically. While my oldest and I linger in our minds, my husband and youngest are more connected with their emotional range. As a family, we try to guide and support each other when needed while cultivating compassion and awareness for all differences in human character.
Raising incredibly divergent children outside of mainstream parenting and educational paradigms creates an experience that is qualitatively different from the norm. We embrace it. The opportunity to develop authentically is the anchor in our radical unschooling lifestyle and freedom to follow one’s passion is omnipresent. We enjoy one another’s eccentric personality and support each other’s expressive nature.
We didn’t get here haphazardly.
I forget sometimes how different our experience is from others because of the impact of neurological wiring on psychosocial development. Profoundly gifted children are intense in every way which extends into all areas of life. A mismatched intellectual environment or creatively sterile one may elicit problematic behaviors that get pathologized due to traditional, boxed in expectations of how children should be. As soon as we ditched a schooling mindset wholeheartedly, meaningful learning took over and everyone became happier as a result. Removing school and external expectations was the first step toward our liberation.
As a parent, I have changed my views about children, learning and life. But for my divergent children, our life might be predictable and dull. With a heavy sprinkling of yogic philosophy infusing its way into our lives, we have all developed a healthier, more mindful approach to happy, authentic living.
It is hard to remember what I had envisioned for myself prior to parenthood. I definitely thought I would enjoy motherhood and assumed I would have two kids that would do well in school and have a lot of friends. So, my view was rather myopic, clearly. Today, that version of me and what parenthood might have looked like has shifted. A lot. I didn’t plan on having eccentric, divergent kids but they sure have helped shed light on who I was a child and who I am becoming as an adult.
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Enjoy other blogs in this blog hop on the depth and breadth of giftedness