Have a Heart ~ Visiting the Social & Emotional Needs of the Gifted

We have two choices when we’re different. We can become like a rock and internalize our experiences or we can open up our hearts, help others to understand, and forgive them when they don’t.

Often, every day, we do a little of both.

Why do friends….?
Why am I different from them?
Why do they think I’m weird?

You’re not normal. You’ll never BE normal.
You have a gift that sometimes doesn’t feel like one.
But it is.

There’s a lot of teaching and modeling empathy….PEOPLE JUST DON’T KNOW what it’s like to be us.


It’s confusing for us. We, the parents who watched our child lift his head long before he was supposed to, watched him speak words that no two year old should know; we were confused by it and maybe even concerned. Why do we expect a stranger to understand? Many of us took years, if not a decade or more to see through the expectations of normalcy and to come to some kind of place where we could sit in peace and accept that our child has a gift; one that others will look at in disbelief or even jealousy. It’s a burden, but we must never forget that it’s also a blessing.

Asynchronicity is that glow we get when our toddler speaks of his fascination with black holes, but it is also the confusion when he has a strange fear of the covers on the arms of a couch. (True story.) We learn to hide the covers and look towards the expanding universe for solace.

Asynchronicity is the realization that my child at age 8 can’t watch Finding Nemo with the other kids because he is broken in hearing that Nemo’s mom gets eaten and yet seeks justice for the many homeless who have no food. (True story.)

Asynchronicity is wearing a jacket in the heat of the summer as protection from “the elements”. The “elements” being people. Being different in this world takes courage, but it’s also a brutal battle from which we seek protection. We crave comfort and the place to just ‘be’.

Intelligence is only one piece of the puzzle as “we simply must take into account the psychological, social, and emotional needs of gifted individuals to encourage and support talent development….the academic needs of gifted individuals cannot be met without simultaneously addressing their psychological needs.” (Rinn, 2012, p. 107)

It never ends.
We just surround ourselves with people who DO understand and pray that others will one day see.

Lots of forgiveness.

And then there are those brilliant blasts of humor….
The ones where we just delight in the quirkiness, the depth, the unique turn of a phrase that makes us laugh and reminds us that our children are special and we see it, even if others don’t understand. We get to see who they are and love them into adulthood. We become their rock at times and at other times-the tide that pushes them forward to greater shores.

We’re teaching them how to live.
We’re teaching them how to be themselves in this world.

All I have that I can really give my kids is love, support, faith, and hope. Hope that it will get better, hope that someone in their educational walk will understand, hope that they will survive through it all and come out on the other side with more wisdom gained by the walk. Hope that they will pass on their own wisdom learned the hard way and make someone else’s life better because of it.

Sometimes I feel like Atlas holding up the heavens; though I haven’t been ‘condemned’ to do it. I consider it an honor. I am honored to shed light on the unique needs of our gifted children. I fought my own personal battle and won. It’s my children’s turn to do the same now and in their own futures. I still hold onto hope.

The strongest people are the most vulnerable. They have been broken and healed. Our kids endure a lot, but through their challenges, they gain wisdom that they will forever hold near and just maybe, they will be the ones to spread that wisdom far; to give hope to others just like them.

Rinn, A.N. (2012) Implications for addressing the psychosocial needs of gifted individuals: A response to Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, & Worrell (2011). Gifted Child Quarterly, 56, 206-209. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0016986212456076

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