(GENDER QUEER) PARENTING A 'GIFTED'? CHILD - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 12-15-2013, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello All. This is a real shot in the dark, made in part due to a feeling of isolation, both actual and cultural. I have no idea if my presence here will be welcome as I am not a mother but a parent. I have no idea if it will be useful but I hope so. I hope to gain some insights into what it means to parent a gifted child and share my own experiences with others you might have similar ones.

 

I am what I call a 'gender variant visual artist' specialising in photography and portraiture as a way of being seen in the world. I photograph those who, like me, are outside the mainstream. I am also an intersex activist, a feminist and a late in life parent of a 2 year old. 

 

My partner of 8 years is a psychologist who is doing a Phd as well as treating clients. We live in a small Swedish city 2 hours west of Stockholm. If you aren't aware of how things work in Sweden what I can tell you that from the perspective of someone who lived in the UK for 25 years and was born in the USA…they work pretty damn well, especially when it comes to having children and equal rights for LGBT people. 

 

Our child, Mika, is being raised with 3 languages. I am the primary caregiver and we speak English together. Mika's mother speaks German and Swedish is spoken by the maternal grandmother, German by the maternal grandfather and in daycare where Mika has gone 4 days a week since the age of 1. 

 

Mika was created via IVF with a known donor who is a friend and who has only donated to us. Legally our donor has no rights or responsibilities. For me/us it was important that Mika has a chance to develop a non obligatory relationship with our friend and know a lot more about him that height, educational level and eye colour. We see our donor/friend and his family 3-4 times a year and Mika has a half sibling that is 3 weeks older.

 

I won't go into detail here about Mika's possible 'giftedness' because for now I just want to say hello and see what kind of response, if any, I receive.  

 

My questions about parenting a gifted child go something like this: 1. IS our child gifted? 2. If so, why is it important? 3. How can knowing a child is gifted make a positive difference and 4. How does one talk about one's child without alienating other parents?

 

Thanks for reading this rather long introduction! 

MaPa Del

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#2 of 9 Old 12-15-2013, 12:29 PM
 
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Hello, welcome to MDC. I am quite new to the gifted forum as well but wanted to let you know that sometimes responses are a bit slow on certain days so please don't be discouraged by that.

 

To answer your questions...

I suppose the label itself only became important for our family when school services became necessary and school would only offer said services if our child has been tested. His teachers had done a fine job of differentiating and tailor fitting the material for his abilities but it got to the point where more was needed.

As far as talking about my child without alienating other parents... It's usually among friends where the topic of children come about. My friends have known for a long time that my children are not typical. They know I am not typical either. It's just what it is. We celebrate our kids, we commiserate with each other when issues come up.

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#3 of 9 Old 12-15-2013, 02:36 PM
 
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Both my partner and I are transgender. I don't identify as any specific gender beyond that- neutrois is most accurate but people really don't understand what that means. Mothering isn't the most trans-aware place, but it's not overly hostile, either. Unless being trans is specifically relevant, I don't mention it that much. You should put it in your signature and be aware that people tend to assume everyone on here is female and not everyone reads sigs.

 

There are dads on here as well, just for the record, as well as a few cis women with trans partners of various genders. I don't think we're the only genderqueer folk around, either.

 

To your questions:

Giftedness is a special need. I know that "special needs" has negative connotations of being "slow" or whatever, but it really just means what it says- special needs children have needs that are different than "normal". Gifted children often need more advanced academics than their peers- which often means skipping grades, taking advanced subjects, or getting different work than their classmates. They can have a difficult time with social interactions if other kids their age resent them for being smarter or they may have a hard time relating. They have unique challenges that need to be acknowledged and properly addressed.

 

A gifted child that is treated like everyone else will often fail in the same way that a child with a developmental disability of some kind will. Gifted children who are given work that is too easy for them get bored easily, they find school dull and uninteresting, they stop trying, they never learn how to handle challenging work and, when faced with a challenge, fail. School is not the only place for kids to get this- their parents are able to supplement at home (I know there's at least one parent on here who is basically teaching her child math)/through after school activities that provide the academic stimulation needed/etc. Occasionally, gifted children have the personality type that they will be driven and perservere without any outside help, in the same way that some kids with disabilities will be able to manage their disability without any outside help. But many gifted children that aren't given additional help will fall through the cracks. It's very common in the US for kids to coast through k-12, reach college or grad school or the real world, and fail because they never learned how to handle challenges or how to study or how to do anything that doesn't come easy to them. 

 

You don't need to actually call your child "gifted" or apply the label. If you are able to acknowledge Mika's needs and your school will work with Mika without any labels (assuming that Mika is 'gifted'), then that's perfectly fine. But if your child fits the "gifted" label, your child will have special needs that other children will not- and that is something you must acknowledge to ensure your child flourishes.


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#4 of 9 Old 12-15-2013, 05:12 PM
 
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Welcome!!!

 

 

At 2, it would be very hard to know if your little one is GT. Although many parents state they had signs early on, but others state that their littles ones didnt really seem 'different' until they were older and/or tested- so you just dont know. But there is no accurate testing for a 2 year old. Most testing is suggested for ages 7-10, unless needed earlier (5ish) for schools/schooling.

 

Genetically, if one or both your little ones biological parents are gifted-- odds are the young one will be too. Though, it may not present in the same way.

 

I have found it nice to suspect or assume if your little one is gifted because sometime you can a good sense from other parents that have been through the similar concerns (behaviors, schooling, academics, 2E, sleep, intensity, perfectionism, obsessions, etc). It also is nice to be able to run it by other parents if something is an age-appropriate phase or a gifted sensitivity/unusual behavior for an age.

 

As for talking to other parents….you have to get a feel for each friend/parent and see where the conversations lead. Some parents may comment on your little one if they see unusual behaviors (early reading, high vocabulary, obvious talent for something, or high intensity, etc) and sometimes it is in a kind I-have-been-through-it way and sometimes it is whoa-that-is-different way. 

 

Again, welcome!! You may want to check out the Multi-cultural Forum (many many bi/tri-lingual parents there) , Queer Parenting Forums, and the Parenting a Toddler Forums. There are also great forums on Education, working at home/out of the home, Fertility (if you decide to do IVF again and could use support), etc. They may all provide different 'audiences' and parents that have varying perspectives depending on the topic!

 

Hope you get a positive response and stay awhile!

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#5 of 9 Old 12-16-2013, 09:13 PM
 
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Hello MaPa Del and welcome!  

 

 

My son is known donor conceived as well.  He has 2 moms, and that been a non-issue on this board.  Most posts tend to focus on the kids.  

 

I don't often talk about my son's cognitive strengths around other parents, so reading and posting here has been very helpful for me.  I hope to hear from you and about Mika again!  Welcome!    


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#6 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 09:04 AM
 
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Hi and welcome.

 

I think that if you are planning to send your child to school (which I think you have to do in Sweden, is that right?) it can be important to have an understanding of common needs and challenges for gifted kids within the school system. Assessment that shows giftedness can be helpful in advocating for your child's needs for enrichment or acceleration, and also in avoiding the misdiagnosis which is common among gifted kids (eg. high energy and intense focus being mistaken for ADHD, a need to question and challenge being labelled as ODD, strong intense interests and lack of fit with peers leading teachers to question possible autism etc).

 

When your child is small, and mostly at home, comparisons with other kids are easier to avoid or brush off but it becomes more difficult once they enter the school system. Even when they are young, though, it can be difficult to talk take part in casual conversations with other parents-- about the cute things they say, for instance- without worrying that you might alienate other parents or sound like you are bragging. Plus I think it is kind of normal for most parents to want to brag a bit- because we all think our kids are awesome, whether they are gifted or not-- but when they are very precocious, it gets tricky. No advice, really- just wanted to say that I get it ;)

 

My son is also donor-conceived, btw-- queer family, he has two moms. I've found these forums, at least the areas I post in, to be pretty friendly and full of some very interesting and open-minded folks. Hope you find the same.


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#7 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 06:05 PM
 
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I think it is really hard to talk to other parents about what your child is doing. I suggest finding other things to talk about. 

 

My story is that I have 2 kids, who are know 17 and 15. Both are gifted (officially tested as gifted).

 

The older one is also on the autism spectrum, and had multiple delays when she was young. One of her labels is "pervasive developmental delay."  I've been on the other end of conversations where a parent is going on and on and on about all the wonderful things their child can do, and I always felt like crap. Message boards with other gifted parents are great for those, and family members like your partner and the grandparents, but please talk to other people about things you have in common with them. I've met very parents of *just* gifted kids who can pull it off. Those who do, do not take credit for their child's ability or believe that their child is better. They get that life just is what it is, and they are equally interested and supportive of what is going on with their friends' kids.

 

My younger child is just gifted. Because of the situation with her sister, her life has never been about being gifted. Its about how she has fun, what she likes. Granted, some of those things have been things like playing chess and learning languages. I think that the lack of focus on giftedness has helped her become more well rounded and balanced. Friendships are important, so are sports. She took glass blowing lessons for a while. She's been getting a great education (she started doing university level work this year) , but her IQ and educational attainments aren't the center piece of her life or self concept. (odd side benefit, she is super nice to the special ed students at her school, and doesn't think she is a better human being than someone with a lower IQ).

 

I've been around mothering for ions, and I think my family is the odd one out in some ways -- I'm happily to a very nice man and we are raising our biological children! Here, your family is more typical than mine!  No where cares how your child was conceived or the gender of your partner, just that you love your child and practice gentle discipline :thumb


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#8 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 06:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
 

I've been around mothering for ions, and I think my family is the odd one out in some ways -- I'm happily to a very nice man and we are raising our biological children! Here, your family is more typical than mine!  No where cares how your child was conceived or the gender of your partner, just that you love your child and practice gentle discipline :thumb

I appreciate what you're saying, but mixed-sex couples raising their biological children are not out of the ordinary on this forum. Openly genderqueer people, however, are VERY rare on this forum. I doubt that you have ever felt any concern that people may not respect the pronouns or terminology you use- which is something the OP may experience.

 

The OP being genderqueer is relevant, it's not about the gender of the OP's partner- it's about the gender of the OP. Most of the people on this forum assume everyone is female and casually use "ladies", "mamas", and other such terminology to refer to everyone else in a thread. If the OP has bad dysphoria or a particularly dysphoric day- being referred to with female terminology could be very upsetting. I've also seen more than a few people make very transphobic remarks about raising children as well, and no one remarked on it or saw it as odd- again, something that could be very upsetting to the OP to see.

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#9 of 9 Old 12-23-2013, 10:48 PM
 
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First, I agree with the OP that most families seem to be fairly "traditional" and most posters assume most posters are mothers; though given that this is "mothering.com" I think that's somewhat to be expected. (Also, unless one's handle is very gendered-sounding, ability to express a gender here is fairly limited.) However, I think that's all veering a bit off the topic of this particular section for the forum, which is gifted kids.

 

At 2, I think you can have very solid suspicions about giftedness, but confirmation will come later.  You know what your child likes to do and experience, so right now it's way more important to meet her needs as she expresses them than to worry about giftedness. Even with preschools I've found my 2 kids, who are likely equally intelligent, have vastly different preferences for learning and classroom organization style: DD needed quiet, and structure, and rules and loved "academics" and she was a Montessori kid all the way: DS was too high-energy and we left a perfectly nice Montessori for a more play-based school.

 

I don't know what schools are like in Sweden--heck, they're different all over the US, really--but for us it's been important to label DD as gifted because it interacts with her other special needs and makes her a very, very complex kid.  I can envision many scenarios where it wouldn't be important to label as such--if she didn't have special needs, if she was in a school that really individualized curriculum, etc.

 

As for other parents--I generally avoid talking about giftedness if possible unless you know their kid is likewise gifted.  


Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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