Ep. 111: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World
In this episode, I'm talking to Debbie Reber, creator of TiLT Parenting, the host of the TiLT Parenting Podcast, and the author of Differently Wired: Raising and Exceptional Child in a Conventional World. While this book was written mainly for parents that need extra support, I think it will resonate with all parents of all kids.Big Ideas
- Every child deserves to be understood and accepted for who they are.
- We are all wired differently. Some differences are more visible than others.
- Each kid needs different tools to thrive in life and we can help them figure out what they need for their individual journey.
- When parents and children communicate their needs and explain their differences to others, people are more understanding and accepting.
- 3 Key Take-Aways:
- Find a community and resources
- Find the right kind of support (parent coach, couples counselor, online communities)
- Embrace and accept kids' strengths; teach them to articulate their needs.
- Gifted kids also have special needs that can be addressed and supported in schools and at home.
- As a parent, set aside what you think your child's (social, academic, physical) life should look like, and respect your child's own timeline.
Audrey: "Sometimes people are just kind of under the radar. Maybe they aren't diagnosed with something, but their parents just sort of know that they don't move through life the same way that other people do."
Debbie: "Many of the kids in my community may not have a formal diagnosis but a lot of them are extra sensitive, have heightened anxiety and are more tuned in and the world is an intense place for them."
Debbie: "I wanted to cast a wide net and include any sort of narrow atypicality because there are so many of us. But when we stay in our little buckets, we don't get to tap into the collective and recognize the power in our numbers and why things really do need to change."
Audrey: "Sometimes our biggest challenges become our biggest gifts."
Audrey: "You did this journey together with your son, learning how to help him navigate the world and then how to help you navigate the world as a parent. You figured out how to embrace your son and all of his strengths and his uniqueness and help him become his best self. And you helped him be able to articulate to the world who he is and what he needs."
Audrey: "I've always loved delving into all the personality type inventories that just help us learn how the way we see the world or react to things is different from other people and being a little more empathetic and understanding of that as opposed to thinking it's wrong."
Debbie: "We're really looking at this person as an individual human on their own incredible journey. I think it can be really hard when we're just kind of on this treadmill of life, doing what everybody else is doing. Take a conscious step back and say, 'wait a minute--who is this kid and what do they need to do to really thrive?'"
Debbie: "It's not easy to take that pause and to really shift your focus."
Audrey: "Even for people with different interests, the concept that there is one path is so flawed. Kids who aren't academically inclined or school isn't their thing are left feeling like they don't fit in. Often, it beats them down to the point where they don't have the opportunity to explore their interests."
Audrey: "The impact of not letting kids be who they really are and exploring that is coming out in the rise of mental health disorders, substance abuse, and suicide among adolescents and young adults. All of these things can be traced back to the same idea that if you don't fit into some prescribed thing, the world is hard."
Audrey: "We all have a lot of parental shame, insecurity, guilt, worry and often loneliness when we are kind of embarrassed by our kids' behavior or confused or just don't get it."
Debbie: "There's a lot of judging in parenting. It's pervasive and it's really harmful. It hurts us and when people are judging it is triggering their own insecurities. I think it's so important to find safe spaces to connect and to share."
Debbie: "It's important to get clear and remember what the core goal is and that is to support these kids in becoming who they are."
Debbie: "One of the ways we can bolster our foundation is to surround ourselves with people who fully support our family. When we do this, we relax, our kids relax, and we all get to go about our business from a place of confidence. Community changes everything. It lifts us up. It deepens our well of resources. It fuels our bravery. It allows us to be our authentic selves. It reminds me that we and our children are not alone. It's time we ditched the doubters, skeptics, and those will never get it and instead surround ourselves with our people." (Differently Wired, pg. 217)
Debbie: "Part of the process is for us to speak openly, without fear or shame or worry. That's part of the accepting process of knowing that there is no one way to be normal."
Debbie: "I imagine we are going to create a more accepting society if we stop shaming certain behaviors, ostracizing people, or making them feel like they're aberrations when really it's just a different way of being."
Debbie: "One of the biggest gifts we can give a kid is the opportunity to truly know themselves and understand how their brain works and what's going on and then how to advocate for themselves, how to speak up."
Debbie: "When people understand, it changes everything. People are afraid of what they don't understand. In a society that puts so much weight on conforming and fitting in, when we don't understand something, we tend to make up stories about it or push it aside."
Audrey: "For more typically-wired kids, it teaches them super important character traits like kindness, empathy, and compassion."
Debbie: "As parents, we can really spin out and get concerned if what we're seeing in our own family isn't matching our idea of what this should look like. Every child is on their own timeline. Everyone is growing in strengths and may have some lagging skills but they even out eventually. If we can keep our eye on the goal to raise a responsible human being who knows themselves, who understands what they need and has the tools to reach their potential, that's what we're going for."Resources
Learn more about Debbie Reber and TiLT Parenting:
If you liked this episode, listen to Ep. 104: Know and Love Yourself AND Your Kids