My kids are already fine human beings
Many parents have the goals of guiding their children to be happy and productive adults. Those are my goals too, though I think that we shouldn’t parent only for the future, but also for the present. Children are not people in training; they are people right here, right now.
My children are happy and productive kids, who are free to be themselves and free to express themselves, right now. What we do right now affects the future in very large ways. Respecting the kids I have now, and not only the adults they will one day be, is the most important long-term parenting goal I can have.
Critical thinking, acknowledging one’s intuition, caring more about personal safety than being rude, and following one’s heart –those are the values that I care most about instilling in my kids. But as a parent, it is important to me to realize children are not playdough for us to mold, but people with personalities and opinions who need our help to navigate the world and to learn about its joys and evils.
My kids amaze me every day, but never in ways that I expected. Just like they have so much to learn about the world, I have so much to learn from them. My children deserve to remain the happy, free, and thriving people that they currently are. Which brings me to the biggest puzzle I have the task of solving this year.
Meeting educational needs
This year, my task is figuring out the best educational solution for my children, since my firstborn will reach the age at which education becomes compulsory next year. School starts later in our country of residence than it does in many countries, so we have been homeschooling in accordance with the kids’ abilities and interests. My daughter is thriving and, unlike mom, is a math whiz.
Homeschooling is working for us. I want to keep it up. The alternative is entering into a poor educational system, with the very real prospect of discrimination on ethnic grounds and because I am a single parent. But homeschooling is, in fact, illegal where we live. I certainly have the duty to meet my kids’ educational needs, but I want to continue homeschooling while also not breaking the law. Tricky stuff!
Besides the appallingly bad school options here, there is this other thing. I am twice exceptional, which refers to being both gifted and having a special need. I have known about the special need – in my case dyscalculia, which is numerical dyslexia – for longer than I have known about my IQ.
I was tested for a job many years ago, but only in the past year (more specifically since finding this wonderful organization, SENG – Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) that I realized that being gifted has affected my life profoundly.
Giftedness is a word that really doesn’t do people who have this “problem” any justice – it sounds all braggy, right? Being gifted affects so much more than achievements in the academic sphere, and it is a whole-person phenomenon that changes the way a person fits into society.
As a child, I received many labels that made me feel worthless and that were in hindsight related to giftedness. They included odd, possibly autistic, possibly crazy, lazy, a trouble maker, and someone with social problems (After all, wanting to hang out with adults to talk about politics as a kid is not normal! Well, actually, it is, when those people are at your intellectual level.)
Being more aware of what giftedness entails now, I am determined to help my children avoid the hurt and rejection that accompanied a high IQ for me. They have not been tested, but I know both are gited. Yes, “coming out” as gifted is tricky, and applying the label to one’s children perhaps even more so. I do think we have the right to acknowledge who we are. It doesn’t mean we think we’re superior; just that the gifted do not need to feel inferior.
Helping my children remain the unique, wonderful human beings that they are involves much more than parenting skills, unfortunately. It also involves making the right decisions in terms of where we live while they are children. During childhood, we help our kids create the basis which they will build on for the rest of their lives. The culture by which we are surrounded daily matters. The education they receivematters. The way we feel while we are children matters. Unfortunately, the ideal solutions are not always available to us.
Making peace with this country, and opening up opportunities where they don’t yet exist in terms of homeschooling, or moving away – those are the questions we’ll deal with this year. It will be an important year that will shape the rest of our lives.
I’ve put my traumas in the closet for a little too long, thinking denying their existence would make them go away. But the year behind me has been one of healing from past trauma and learning to accept myself. That overdue journey resulted in positive changes in my family, and since I started to heal, I realized thathappy and emotionally healthy parents are the basis for emotionally healthy and happy children.
Just like one in three other women, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I also have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from work-related trauma. And now, I am able to write this down and publish it on the web and not feel ashamed in the least. Being raped was not my fault, and I can now finally feel that.
Trauma has affected my parenting in many ways – in ways that I can See only now that I am beginning to acknowledge what happened and to accept myself. Only now that I feel so much better about myself can I truly be a present and active parent, who is genuinely and emotionally involved in my children, rather than doing everything on autopilot.
Now that I can feel joy, true joy, I feel my children’s smiles instead of just seeing them. Now that I canfeel, period, I am better equipped to deal with my children’s joy, anger, sadness… I am no longer a “natural parenting” robot, doing all the “right” things, like babywearing constantly, nursing on demand, and responding to their every cry promptly. Now, when I respond to my children’s cries (now that they’re older, those most happen when they are fighting over toys!), I actually feel something.
It is amazing! I hope that the kids have not suffered much from being parented by my trauma-denial self, who needed to lock away those darn feelings just to be able to get through the day. Back when my daughter was born, I just wasn’t ready to deal with it all. After starting my healing journey, I am thankful to be truly present as a parent to my children, a friend to my friends, and a human being, now, even though being able to experience feelings again obviously opened the door to feeling pain and sorrow too.