I say ‘of sorts’ because I freely admit that I didn’t read the entire book. I did go through enough of it, however, to know that it’s not going to be the best representative of its kind.
The book in question is Raising Gifted Kids, by Barbara Klein. (The cover–front AND back– lists “Barbara Klein, Ph.D.,” but she didn’t impress me, so I didn’t bother.) Let me share with you a paragraph from the introduction:
Parents can no longer take their roles lightly. You know that what you do for your children will have an impact. While previous generations felt comfortable following the old rules of parenting or abdicating their responsibility for parenting to others, this generation has been informed by their own education and the popular press that they must take charge of their decision making to be effective.
I’m not sure where to begin with this. I had no idea that for centuries, parents have been taking their roles lightly and had no clue that what they did for their children would have an impact. Silly me! I’ve been assuming that my parents loved and worried about and prayed for and agonized over me in the same way that I do with my own children. I had no idea that it took the ‘popular press’ to turn me into that kind of parent. (And by the way, I’m pretty sure that “this generation” should be followed by the pronouns “its” and “it,” not “their” and “they.”)
Klein goes on to stress how parenting gifted children requires a whole different rule book than regular children, and I just kept thinking–there’s a rule book that works for all non-gifted children? Really? I’m certainly prepared to accept that different types of children require different strategies, and since I gave her book a shot, I’m obviously looking for additional insight into one of those types, but the “gifted parents/children vs. those other parents who don’t understand and won’t sympathize with their challenges” attitude was patronizing at best (I want to call it belittling, but it was pretty late when I started reading, so I’m willing to try for restraint).
When I flipped through to get to the specific examples in the book, hoping that those might prove informative, I found passages like this:
Common Reactions to Perfectionism
Your six-year-old son has spent two hours on his homework. You think to yourself that your child is really obsessed. But don’t bring this up.
“Good Enough” Reaction:
“I can see that you are disappointed that you don’t have time to complete your work perfectly. What you have done is good enough. You will have more time tomorrow.”
By saying this you put the entire problem with perfectionism into perspective.
“You are becoming a freak about completing this homework! You are a monster! I should have your head examined. Your behavior is going to give me a nervous breakdown.”
This is a guilt-inducing and out-of-control reaction. As the adult, you need to be in charge of developing your child’s self-esteem–not destroying it.
Seriously. After pages and pages of those two types of reactions being listed as “common,” I came to the conclusion that this particular book was a waste of my time. I’ve got four more books on gifted kids checked out; this one, however, is going straight back to the library. My advice to anyone else looking for books on this topic is pretty simple.
Skip this one.