Of all the chaos and trauma and drama around parenting a gifted or twice-exceptional kid, the one area we have been so lucky to tiptoe past is bullying. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few minor skirmishes, but when I think about what truly could have been, we dodged a cannonball. That’s not to say it won’t yet crop up, but when Andy was in school it could have been really, really bad and wasn’t. I do think, however, had he stayed in public school much longer that would have changed and we would have had a much worse situation on our hands. When I think of how bad things were when we pulled him out, a much worse situation would have been life-altering, and not in a good way.
Far too many gifted kids are victims of bullying. While the majority of the stories I’ve heard have been kids bullying other kids, the ones that break my heart most are the stories of adults and teachers doing the bullying. And just as most parenting books don’t apply to our kids simply because they’re outliers, a lot of books on bullying apply only marginally. When your kid is extra sensitive or perceptive or empathetic, what do you do? When your kid is an outlier among outliers, there is no one-size-fits-most. This is kinda like my clothes sizing; the only one-size-fits-most that fits me is a scarf. My measurements lean toward the extreme, much like our gifted and twice-exceptional kids and their needs.
The newest Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press book was released today. Titled Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families, it’s written by my dear friend Pamela Price. I’ve watched Pamela pour her heart and soul into this amazing resource for the last couple of years, and it is well worth the wait. Unlike other books on bullying, this one is specifically for families with gifted and twice-exceptional kids, and because we parents are exhausted and half-brain dead most days, it is blessedly brief (not short, not skimping on information, just not 200 pages of dry text that we would attempt to slog through at 9:30 at night when we finally got the cherubs into bed and we crashed for the evening).
In her clear and precise prose, Pamela lays out exactly what bullying is and what it isn’t. She provides suggestions on how to handle bullying in a traditional school situation, as well as in a homeschool co-op or extra-curricular activity. Throughout the book are short snippets from parents whose kids experienced bullying of various sorts, and other snippets from parents explaining how they worked with their children to deal with and eliminate the bullying. I especially appreciated chapter five, Nurturing Resilience and Healthy Relationships, with its focus on mindfulness and scaffolding and modeling self-care (parents, heal thyselves). If you’re a fan of The King, Pamela even included a conversation with an elderly woman she knew who grew up with Elvis, and until the end of her life remembered the bullying he endured, simply for being different. A tall poppy, too big for his britches, different. Sound familiar?
Gifted, Bullied, Resilient is a game-changer. It is the book for the gifted community that we’ve long needed. I anticipate most people who get this book will highlight and dog-ear many pages to refer back to later. I truly hope (and I know Pamela does too) that it helps parents navigate the tricky and painful land mines that surround bullying and gifted kids. Our kids can easily be defined as MORE, and off the shelf parenting and bullying books just don’t cut it for them. When you’re dealing with over-excitabilities and a raging intellect and a profound sense of justice and a life that is MORE in every sense of the word, you need a resource that starts with those as a baseline. This book is that resource, and I give it my highest recommendation.
Yes, Pamela is a friend, and yes, I received an advance copy of the book for review. Neither influenced my opinion, and if they did I’m sure Pamela would call me on it. She’s a tough Texan, that one. Profound sense of justice and all. She must be gifted or something.