Tidbit # 3

September 12, 2021

As my kids have gotten older, more mouthy and self-assured in their positions, I have vacillated between being pleased not to have sugar-coated or avoided difficult topics or unpleasant realities, including the fantastic set of hypocrisies that are much of life, and very uncertain about whether I took advantage of their unusual capacity to deeply wonder and understand, to always want to know in order to fill them with, well, too much information! I don’t mean the ‘too much information’ situation that smartphones and wild Internet usage at home, on the streets, in the classrooms and everywhere else has exposed us all to; I mean, the ‘too much information’ situation that tempts anyone dealing with gifted children. So many times, I found myself thinking — well, why not? They can handle it. They really should know. They asked. I’m not going to be dishonest; they should understand how the world works. And yet, our world has become, even for adults, difficult to understand, to say nothing of how things must seem to younger, less experienced minds, and otherwise filled with more weird nuance than I can remember in decades past.

The question becomes, how much information is too much information and how much must we provide highly intelligent, inquisitive, and observant, but highly sensitive and inexperienced minds in order for them to walk through their young, connected lives mindfully, critically but still joyfully and without bitterness? Of course, a large part of every parent’s answer lies in personal belief systems, values, and the individual needs and inclinations of one’s child. But surely, some element of our response to this question lies in what we are obligated to share as a matter of directing their worldview to be more, not less inclusive; to be sensitive to and intolerant of injustice and violence, not blind or numb to it; to feel compelled to question everything and to keep an open heart and mind.

What I will say is that children who receive constant exposure to a variety of thoughts and opinions, explanations for why things are they are, and a steady stream of challenges to the rigidity and idealism that tend to characterize youthful thinking, and a hearty diet of nuance seem to prepare these young, brilliant minds to think more, to think deeply, to engage wisely, and to steer clear of facile judgments and false truisms. Empathizing with the hurt and pain of others, the fragility of the human condition, and the infinite complexity of life is, after all, perhaps what children do best! We owe it to them; they may just remind us of something we have forgotten along the way…

Julianna Tauschinger-Dempsey, Gifted Mother of Three Wildly Gifted Children, Educator @ Scholars Academy for the Gifted & Artistically Elite & Empowerer of Gifted Youth & Their Parents

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