I just wanted to share a little more from our family's personal story, something that has helped me to be a better and more supportive Mom to our gifted, highly sensitive, highly creative and divergent thinking child. No, I wasn't always the somewhat-adequately-supportive parent I have come to be today :), more about that below.
The image above is from my teen daughter Abbey's Facebook Page - Cartoon Dreamer - it features her character art, videos, animations and more. She is a highly sensitive, creative and imaginative teen with an insatiable passion for character design and animation - and the stories, morals and lessons she hopes to tell through them. I am so proud of her and her hard work and dedication to her craft, it isn't just her passion, it is her world. She was not a natural sketch artist, she has worked very hard to get to where she is today, what has driven her is the passion to share her characters, the stories they have to tell, the morals she has always believed in, and the lessons she has learned. She hopes to help other kids who are dealing with difficult emotions or situations, or who just feel they are different, or have a hard time fitting in. She calls her more than 100 original characters "My children," and she hopes to share what she has learned through her own bullying experience and growing up different; gifted, highly sensitive, highly imaginative and creative, an "out-of-the box divergent-thinking-daydreamer." (Our Personal Story) She wants to let other unique kids like herself know, "That they are awesome just the way they are," and so much more. She features her character art as well as some other videos on her Page that go in to more detail about what she hopes to share through her characters and animated series ideas. If you would like to visit, her FB page is called Cartoon Dreamer. We also share her story, links to her other blogs and pages, and the gifted and bullying organizations we now support, through her Cartoon Dreamer website. So, that's my wonderful daughter :), but the part of our story that I personally want to share today is what I have learned through our journey, that giftedness is not what many people think, it is not only high intellectual ability or potential, and where this understanding is especially important is with highly creative or creatively gifted kids. There are 5 different "over-excitabilities" or what are also called super-sensitivities found in gifted children that can indicate high ability or potential in a certain area. These same positive traits - sensitivities that give them their advanced potential or ability - can also create inner struggles that create special or unique-needs in parenting, education and counseling. The 5 over-excitabilities are: Intellectual (intensity and activity of the mind), Psychomotor (high levels of physical energy), Sensual (heightened awareness of all five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing), Emotional (exceptional emotional sensitivity and/or understanding), and Imaginational (vividness and free-play of the imagination). For Abbey, although she also tests high intellectually, for sure the 2 that stand out in her the most are the later - emotional & imaginational.
What started out as looking like immaturity or disorder to some; an obsession with cartoons and cartoon characters - in actuality was so much more. What intrigues her mind, as is the case with most gifted kids, is the details and complex connections. For Abbey, it's the depth of characters, the interaction of complex characters including those with family, behavioral, emotional or psychological pain, dysfunction or disorder, how believing in yourself and the support of true friendships can conquer all, and how using positive traits and emotions can defeat the negative emotions we all at times deal with, as well as the villainous evil we sometimes face. What I am trying to share is that our children's gifts can show themselves in unpredictable ways, and they may first show themselves in their unusual or intense interests.
The sad fact is that many highly creative people never find their medium or creative passion, inherent characteristics, social, emotional, and other struggles, can keep them from ever being able to develop their gifts, or even see their place and value in this world. Many times they struggle with life long issues of perfectionism, self doubt, anxiety and existential depression, Many don't get the support to pursue their creativity because the adults in their lives prioritize intellectual pursuits over creative interests, or just don't posses the knowledge or skills to know how to help their child find and develop their passion and true potential. Parenting a gifted, highly creative and divergent thinking child is many times not an easy task, but if we allow them to have interests that are different than our own, and work hard to find value in what is interesting and important to them, they will in turn find value in themselves and their own unique creative expression. If instead we keep directing our children away from their creative interests, or the divergent-thinking-daydreaming that drives all creativity - they will never gain the self acceptance and self esteem needed to confidently pursue their creative passion, their dreams or true potential. Sometimes the easiest way to help our children identify their creative gifts is just by watching them do what they love to do - those unique and unusual interests they find so compelling. If it seems almost like an obsession (doing or talking about it and the details of it day and night), just remember, this is pretty normal for gifted and or highly creative and passionate kids. If it appears odd, not important, or a waste of time - take a little longer look from a changed and positive perspective - when you do you might just see that what is interesting and important to your child - is something of great value and worthy of your support.
If you have a child like Abbey, or if any part of our story is similar to your own - if you have questions or concerns or would just like a hearing ear, you can request a coaching session here on our website.
Hugs & Happy Parenting!
Julie L Gibson-Vasquez The Proactive Parenting Coach