The other day I was having a discussion with another homeschooling Mom from a gifted Facebook group I am a member of. I was replying to a post she made about her daughter, who she homeschooled and spent every day with, wanting more time to "talk, talk, talk, well into the night," a time when most of us parents, homeschooling or otherwise, are near exhaustion. She wondered why her daughter would ask for more time to talk when they had talked all day, went on outings together just the two of them, and were very close?
I had experienced something similar with my own daughter, so I shared that experience with her:
"My daughter and I are very close and have been home together homeschooling for almost 6 years now. We also talk a lot throughout the day and go out on outings just the two of us. She still comes to me often and says, "Can we spend time together today?" To which I think, "We've been together all day long!" So I finally decided to ask her what she meant by this. She's 14 now, and only recently was she able to articulate what she meant, what "spending time together" meant to her. She explained to me that spending time together to her was about us taking a special quiet moment away from other activities, time where I would let everything else go and focus just on her and what she wanted to share - she wanted that time to share with me what was important to her, to share with me her world.
Gifted, highly sensitive and highly creative kids have a lot going on up in their little heads, even children with advanced vocabulary who are usually quite articulate may lack the emotional maturity or understanding to explain it all. My daughter was a teen before she was able to identify and explain to me what spending quality time together meant to her. She was finally able to tell me that for her spending time together meant that she wanted to lay on the bed just her and I, any time of the day would do if she was ready, and share with me her world - her deepest thoughts and what was important to her. Most of the time this meant that she just wanted me to listen. But, as time went by and our quality time increased, I noticed something wonderful happening - our relationship grew stronger. Soon she was not only asking for me to listen to what was important to her, but at times even wanted to hear my thoughts on things as well!
As exciting as that is that my teen asks to hear my opinion, I always try to remember that the most important thing I can do for her is to continue to make time to listen, listen to - and find value in - what is currently important to her. This has been one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a parent. Through making time to listen to our children we grow closer and gain their trust, and by respecting and finding value in what is important to them we gain their respect. When they trust and respect us they are more apt to value our opinions and hopefully ask for them. Getting to the point where our kids actually value and ask to hear our input and opinions is of utmost importance, since the greatest teaching moments come when they are openly sharing and questioning.
"The day we created another human - was the day we chose to spend the rest of our lives putting another's needs before our own" ~ Unknown ~
For my daughter, she shares through her iPad, she keeps all of her world on that thing - her own art and other creations, things that speak to her that she wants to share with me, things she saves for me because she thinks they will make me happy or make me laugh, touching, concerning, or inspirational blog posts, music, videos and other articles, lots of interesting facts (she loves facts), and much, much, more. Now when she asks for time with me after being together all day long, I know what she means. When I do give her my complete focus and listen to what is currently important and interesting to her, it usually doesn't take much time at all before she is content, and I now cherish those special moments where she lets me into her world :)."
Hugs & Happy Parenting!
Julie L Gibson-Vasquez The Proactive Parenting Coach