Mindfulness starts with self-care, especially for parents of gifted children. Self-care is what one needs as a unique individual to stay calm, centered and working from the useful cognitive zone of your brain. Staying out of the “too muchness” of parenting gifted children is an art and science that starts with nurturing ourselves with the qualities unique to our own personal needs.
You may think you have to rush through dinner preparation to get to that nagging assignment that is torturing your 10-year-old. Or perhaps, skip a needed break to fold a load of laundry. Or even get to bed later than is good for you in order to conduct research into summer programs for your gifted children. These small acts add up. Do we ever catch up? Are we ever not looking at potential schools, programs, summer plans and ideas that suit our gifted learners? It seems we never will catch up when our attention is almost exclusively devoted to the betterment of our gifted children, yet….. Are we present when we’re with them? Do we negate our own needs to get that next thing done, only to find ourselves feeling overtired, stretched thin, even resentful? Who are we serving when we attend to everything else but our own holistic needs?
Where to start? There are many suggestions good for both our children and ourselves as their caregivers. Starting with ourselves allows us to work from a place of strength, and model the qualities we like to see in our children. Our bodies are a treasure trove of valuable information. You might even say there are messages, such as that ache in the low back that says, “I feel vulnerable. Take it easy today.” Or notice that the aura of a potential headache that declares, “Too much! I need space and some quiet.” Or even chronic jaw tension that seems to beg, “I’m stretched too thin!” Every person’s body declares these messages uniquely. What are yours? For many of us these messages can occur quietly, (like our intuition!) and are easily overlooked. Just like that quiet feeling you had about the movie you suspected would be too scary for your sensitive child. And was…. Your body's messages might even be overlooked at difficult demanding times, later leading to overwhelm. If this is a common theme for you, consider taking a short break of quiet reflection to turn inward, check in, be reminded of the soothing peace that always resides within when we take time to seek it. Skeptical? Experiment with what works for you. Self care needs are unique. Just like your gifted child.
Life can appear to demand so much of us when we are parenting children who are often a hot mess of overachievement, deeply intense, or maddeningly perfectionistic. Maybe you too carry some of these themes common to the gifted child? How might we help ourselves? Does operating on overdrive support these needs? How do we prevent ourselves from falling off the cliff of too muchness? Would we treat a good friend the same way we treat ourselves? Would we ignore a friend’s cry for rest, quiet, or a moment of reflection?
These and so many other questions will be addressed and discussed with other parents of gifted children at the CGCC Books & Virtual Coffee conversation. Our guest speaker Michele Kane, Ed.D., is a beloved CGCC mentor, educator and co-author of our current read, “Planting Seeds of Mindfulness; Creating the Conditions to Help Gifted Kids to Flourish and Bloom Intellectually, Emotionally, and Spiritually.” You might be surprised to learn that when you model the behavior you hope to inspire in your children you are incorporating an element of mindfulness. This modeling is an invitation that can occur gradually and naturally over time, as you emphasize the things you need to be the calm center point of your home, who supports the balance of so many of the challenges and joys of parenting gifted children. Please join us on Thursday, February 11 at 9 am for what is sure to be a valuable conversation on Zoom. Sign up through the CGCC website.