Here’s the scenario: a parent contacts me for help with raising their gifted child. They describe the child’s intensity, passion for their own interests, sensory quirks, asynchrony, and learning differences. They may hope I can help their child with emotional regulation, or with finding an educational fit. We talk about resources, I point them at books, articles and organizations, and we begin to find ways to make life a little smoother.
At some point in this process, the conversation inevitably comes around to the parent’s childhood. Maybe it’s in the form of a comment such as “I know exactly what the teacher is talking about — I was that way too at that age”. Sometimes it’s more direct, as in “I just read that article you gave me to help understand my child, but it felt like it was talking about me!”. Or the especially poignant “Why couldn’t I have had some of these options growing up? I would have been so much happier.” At this point, the conversation turns to the idea that maybe the child isn’t the only gifted one in the family, that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Many parents are taken aback, especially those whose giftedness was not apparent as they were growing up, due to things like learning differences, or an environment that wasn’t supportive of their social, emotional or intellectual needs. They might sputter, and say “But I flunked out of high school!” or “I can’t be gifted, I don’t draw ….. at least that’s what my second grade teacher told me.”
So the next time you find yourself rejecting the idea that “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” when it comes to your own child, I urge you to embrace the fact that you, too, are a tree. Read, talk, find other trees in your area (or online…). Give yourself the gift of self-understanding and self-appreciation, even if you need some support to do it. It’s never too late to have a happy gifted adulthood!