Traditionally, the gifted members of a tribe were taken
under the wings of the elders, and nurtured in ways that satisfied, supported,
and promoted their gifts so that they grew up to be considered integral and
cherished members of their society.
Contemporary society is inclined to reverse this
process, imagining that the gifted are capable of finding their own way, and
then ostracizing them for being different or rocking the boat.
American society ostensibly supports creative
initiative and lauds independent thought. This myth generally neglects to
mention that American society also tends to torment creativity and
independence wherever it may surface—until it proves itself. Only after
proof of success, does our society show acceptance. And even then, it often
places the survivor on an unrealistic and unsupported pedestal.
Gifted children and adults can benefit from the
opportunity to explore their “differences” as they are: to discern the
gifts those differences may bear, to accept the difficulties associated
with them, and to learn to navigate a society that may well never fully
It may be expected that some gifted people are so
unique they will never find general populations who experience life as they
do. From an early age, gifted people are likely to experience this isolation,
and be confused and frustrated by it. Without a truly supportive parent or
other understanding mentor, the gifted are likely to experience depression,
anxiety, disillusionment, shutdown or avoidance.
However, with understanding and guidance, such unique souls can learn to appreciate
themselves, appreciate those who are different from them, and learn to
successfully navigate the world as it is.
Support for the gifted, as individuals and in
groups, allows the opportunity to experience the comfort of being accepted:
neither denigrated, nor venerated for their gifts. Too often, people with
intellectual, creative, physical, spiritual, or emotional gifts are
misunderstood, disparaged or neglected. All people benefit from emotional
support and guidance. The more exceptional an individual is, the less
likely she or he has satisfactorily experienced either. Working with a
professional experienced in the exceptional
needs of the gifted can help to provide both.
In families where the parents are also gifted, they
may have been derided and neglected in their families of origin, and come into
parenthood frustrated and ill equipped to support their children, though they
want to. Guidance in the form of consultation, counseling, or therapy for gifted individuals, families, and groups can address
Exceptional children are not the only ones who
benefit from counseling. Any gifted adult who is struggling in their life may
benefit from counseling that addresses their specific issues.
Family, school, work, social
and community environments each pose their own challenges to the gifted
individual and the gifted couple or family. Knowledgeable guidance can provide the comfort
and direction needed to best understand and appreciate one's personal pattern of
abilities and limitations, and play to the strengths. It can also help a
person learn to appreciate, nurture
and support others across their unique pattern of gifts and adversity.
Guiding the Gifted
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