Finding your Tribe to Not Only Survive…But Thrive

Guest Blogger

Volume 8

What is a tribe?

Throughout history, humans have self-organized into tribes for survival. Groups relied on each other for mutual benefit and support, be it physical survival, or social and emotional well-being.  As civilizations evolved, tribal needs evolved as well. Mirriam-Webster defines these tribes as “a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest.”  They often share a common goal or journey, common frustrations, and common needs.

Why is it important for parents of gifted children to find their tribe?

The gifted population is small, making up approximately 2-5% of the total population. This segment isn’t better, or worse than the other 95-98%, but is definitely different.  The needs of the gifted, by definition, are unique, and those who understand them are often hard to find.

As a parent, understanding needs of gifted kids and figuring out how to meet those needs is critical.  There is research and experts available to help build understanding, but there are few things that beat picking up the phone and talking to a friend who has walked the same path.  Understanding how a fellow tribe member worked within an existing environment to get their child’s academic or emotional needs met, and understanding what didn’t work, provides a great deal of insight to help you support your child. Beyond that, having someone to share frustrations and successes is invaluable.  Parenting is hard and connecting with those who share common challenges helps ease the journey.  Some parents readily share their child’s level of giftedness, unique needs, and successes.  Other parents live more under the radar and don’t share this information even with their closest friends and family.  Finding your tribe where all these intricacies are considered completely normal allows you to feel that you’re not alone, not crazy, and there’s hope!

How to find your tribe?

Finding others in the 2-5% of the population isn’t impossible.  There are established organizations that target the needs of the gifted – academic, social, emotional, and specific needs or areas of interest.  It is important to understand which subsegment within the gifted population is your tribe – does your child have learning differences and is considered twice exceptional?  Is your child profoundly gifted?  Does your child have a specific passion?  Understanding where in the gifted community your tribe lives is important.   Once you identify your sub-segment, begin your quest.

I live in a great part of the country, but far away from any major cities. Because it lacks the population density of a city, one might think there aren’t as many opportunities to find your tribe in places like this.  While this may be the case, it’s not impossible!  Tribes can be local or remote.  Here are some recommendations to get started:

  • Look for local gifted parent groups
  • Attend your state’s gifted conference
  • Find events that cater to the interests of your child (math circles, academic competitions, chess tournaments, book groups, etc.).
  • Find a national organization.  There are several large organizations that address the needs of the gifted, such as NAGC, SENG, Duke TIP, Johns Hopkins CTY, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, and many others.  Look into groups like these and see which one is a fit for your child’s needs, and your parenting style.
  • Facebook can be your friend, too. There are numerous parent groups comprised of parents across the gifted range, and for specific 2e segments.

I assure you, that once you find your tribe, it is magical.  To feel understood and “normal” is a gift unto itself.  And, as hard as it is to parent a gifted kid, it’s even harder to be a gifted kid.  Help your child find their tribe, too.  I have found that, when my children find others with whom they connect, my tribe is there, too.  It is truly a life-changing experience.

About the Author
Venetia Muench lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband and their two awesome, and different, gifted sons. She is a passionate researcher and tireless advocate for their needs. Reach Venetia at vseblatnigg@yahoo.com.

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