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Re: Core values

Postby Greebo » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:44 am

Kimera1 wrote:In my humble (?) opinion, that is how it should work when you have a gifted child. If you had one yourself, would you do it differently?

It does beg the question, though…how did you get from caring about praise as a child to where you are with praise now? I’m not sure the right word to use to capture it. Wary? Dismissive?

Also this may be a case of “the grass is always greener…” but I wish I had parents who were involved enough in my life as a child to make goal posts for me and then constantly move them. I was also labelled “gifted” and put into the gifted programs, but there was no adult in my life who gave a rat’s ass.

Well to begin with I’m not keen on the idea of ‘gifted’ children in the first place, particularly not when it’s done by something as arbitrary as a score above 130 or 140, or whatever it was, on an IQ test.

I also think that in some ways intelligence, sensitivity and some other traits, which we perhaps think as beneficial, actually make a child more vulnerable and consequently there is less scope for parental mistakes. It is certainly that way with raising various different types of animal.

In terms of development that might be best considered in comparison. My family produced two children in my generation who were considered to be ‘gifted’,myself and my cousin Michael who is two years my senior. My aunt who always has to be “Queen Bee” and was somewhat put out by my mother’s second marriage went out of her way to make sure her child was ‘best’.

Michael was always a very pliant child. He’d do things like watch a formula 1 race then immediatly set about writing a ‘race report’ (probably not so surprising given his elder brother is profoundly autistic). The sort of child who when he comes home from school wants to sit and play video games or watch TV. He’d quietly get on and do his school work and was generally more interested in intellectual things. Academically he was a good all rounder and like by all of his teachers. He could also be a manipulative little bugger, and was very good at presenting himself in the best light to adults (and others, especially me and his sister, in a bad one). He was told he was a little genius from the get go and was generally pampered, his parents even going so far as to put their autistic child out of the way so that he wouldn’t be a burden on the other kids (something which my mother and grandparents took a dim view of).

By contrast as a child I was a kind of shy and sensitive extrovert. I was direct, wilful and wore my heart on my sleeve. I was far more people and experience focused and the only thing I wanted to do when I got home from school was go out and play with my friends. I also used to shun more ordered activities in favour of more imaginative games, or going ‘exploring’ and building ‘bases’. Generally if there was something going on (not in the criminal sense) I was not only in the midst of it but probably came up with the idea. You’d have struggled to get me to sit down for five minutes and watch the formula 1 let alone write a report about it. Academically i was more lopsided, favouring the sciences but also more creative subjects (save music). Things like the humanities or grammar and spelling I paid little attention to. To my teachers I was more like marmite, something exacerbated by my tendency to only do or learn things my own way and only follow instruction if I understood and agreed with them. The result of which is that I was constantly having to be reined in and made to sit down and do what was expected of me.

Michael sailed through school effortlessly, whilst I was generally more difficult to handle.

I think being constantly reined in and the things I was interested in or enjoyed being treated as, not exactly bad, but not what I was supposed to be doing as a ‘gifted’ child, combined with some bullying and unfair treatment on the part of my school (not the other students), probably made me feel like I was constantly in the wrong. The pressure to behave a certain way coupled with the interference the events surrounding my illness caused with my social skills pushed me towards achievement as the ‘correct’ means of obtaining affection.

Contrastingly when we hit higher education Michael slowed down whilst I accelerated hard, partially because the greater scope for my creative and unorthodox problem solving rather than just passively learning played more to my strengths, but also because I thought it was the only way for me to ‘win’ or at least not be a disappointment.

Greater performance meant that I was picked out by several academics (notably Klaus to begin with) who became my mentors but also took up a sort of surrogate parent role, catalysed by a series of unfortunate events which further damaged other aspects of my life. This created a sort of vicious cycle where the better I did the more I was valued but the more was expected of me, which in turn forced me to further contain and devalue those ‘less desired’ aspects of myself in order to perform and hence maintain my situation. As I moved further on and up, moving from one mentor to another, pressure increased and increased, and I was not so much trying to excel but trying to hold things together. Having spent so much time crushing and suppressing those aspects of my own nature I am instinctively wary of anything that praises them and will generally ignore praise unless it’s for something I’ve done which I consider worthy of praise, which given how far the goal posts have been moved is a very finite number of things.

Michael may have only gone on to be a speech therapist but I’m pretty certain he’s happier because of it.

Anyway if you’re asking how I’d handle a gifted child, I’d let them be ordinary. I’d support them in to do the things they were more geared to regardless of whether it met my expectations. I’d make sure it was clear the support and affection were non-conditional and that no matter what I was on their side.

That being said, in fairness to me parents I was not an easy child. My mother has actually apologised for any mistakes they may have made. According to her I was “into anything and everything and very difficult to keep up with but such a sensitive little soul it was difficult to know what to do”. She also said things used to upset me, which she put down to being a very imaginative and pensive child. TBH it’d probably have been fine had it not been for the illness and the issues surrounding it, they’re what tipped the balance.


I’ve thought about this often over the years. I believe she had children because it seemed like a fun idea to ‘play house’, and a way to generate attention and praise. Once Dad left her, there was nothing appealing about having kids – just a burden. So I should be grateful that she allowed herself to be burdened so.
So really she fancied the idea or image of children and family far more than the reality.

This is really an interesting question and I gave it a lot of consideration. I tried to step back and assess this more objectively – but it’s just not possible for me to do it.

For people who’ve grown up in relatively normal households, the notion that a mother might not love and/or care for her own child is probably difficult to comprehend. Further, the idea that a mother might act in ways that undermine her child’s ability to succeed in life is probably unthinkable.

I wish I could find something to admire or respect in her. Perhaps one day I will. But for now the only way I identify with her values is by categorically rejecting them.
Imagining my mother behaving that way to me as a child still causes a sensation of horror and despair. I’m very aware that the things I’m grumbling about are very much small potatoes in comparison to what many people have gone through.
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Re: Core values

Postby Greebo » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:18 am

Also the question I should of asked earlier, though ignore it if too unpleasant.

How do/did you feel about your mother (or any parent) failing to love and/or care for her own child and actively acting to undermine them? Do you place the blame entirely on her (where it properly belongs) or have you managed to internalise the idea, either emotionally or cognitively, that you were in some way responsible?
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Re: Core values

Postby Kimera1 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:17 pm

Greebo wrote:Well to begin with I’m not keen on the idea of ‘gifted’ children in the first place, particularly not when it’s done by something as arbitrary as a score above 130 or 140, or whatever it was, on an IQ test.

I also think that in some ways intelligence, sensitivity and some other traits, which we perhaps think as beneficial, actually make a child more vulnerable and consequently there is less scope for parental mistakes. It is certainly that way with raising various different types of animal.

I agree with this.

Greebo wrote:Anyway if you’re asking how I’d handle a gifted child, I’d let them be ordinary. I’d support them in to do the things they were more geared to regardless of whether it met my expectations. I’d make sure it was clear the support and affection were non-conditional and that no matter what I was on their side.

I agree that parents should support kids in finding things they are more geared to do. I see this as being one of the most important gifts a parent can give a child – helping them to identify and develop their unique preferences and talents. A big part of that means exposing the child to new things and inspiring (pushing if needed) them to try, with a soft landing if trial leads to failure. No sledgehammers – this will invariably backfire.

The part I take exception to is “let them be ordinary.” Categorizing kids as ordinary is no different than slapping a gifted label on them; it doesn’t recognize the needs of the individual.

If you have a child with above average intelligence, that child will be performing at a completely different level than their peers and may have difficulty fitting in because of it. To ignore that this child needs to be managed differently would be a mistake, I think.

Greebo wrote: Michael may have only gone on to be a speech therapist but I’m pretty certain he’s happier because of it.

Interesting contrast, you and Michael. Two completely different personalities, and I think a good example of no such thing as an ordinary kid. By your description it seemed a fait accompli that you would end up in very different places in life, regardless of how you were raised.

Are you saying that the pressure you felt to perform was due in large part to exceedingly high expectations of your parents, and not something intrinsic to your nature? Would your journey be different had your parents pressured you less?

Also noting that you put the word “only” in front of speech therapist. Made me smile because seems like something my Dad would do.

Greebo wrote:That being said, in fairness to me parents I was not an easy child.

Well, you don't strike me as a particularly easy adult, either. I think it’s part of your charm. :P

Greebo wrote:Also the question I should of asked earlier, though ignore it if too unpleasant.

How do/did you feel about your mother (or any parent) failing to love and/or care for her own child and actively acting to undermine them? Do you place the blame entirely on her (where it properly belongs) or have you managed to internalise the idea, either emotionally or cognitively, that you were in some way responsible?

I don’t fault my mother for feeling resentful about my Dad leaving her with two children for another woman and a whole new life. But parents must try and shield their children from adult problems and put their struggles to the side and focus on the child’s needs. For me this is non-negotiable tenet: adults must protect children. She didn’t have the fortitude or emotional maturity to do it and I see that as a major failing on her part.

As for placing blame on myself, it’s probably there somewhere, deeply buried. I don’t care to spend time wallowing in the past. I had a rough start but that experience helped me to become resourceful and resilient – and as a result I’ve landed on my feet and am doing quite well for myself. I think one of the reasons I have an allergic reaction to therapy is I don’t wish to re-visit that unpleasant childhood experience at this point in my life.
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Re: Core values

Postby realityhere » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:02 am

"How do/did you feel about your mother (or any parent) failing to love and/or care for her own child and actively acting to undermine them? Do you place the blame entirely on her (where it properly belongs) or have you managed to internalise the idea, either emotionally or cognitively, that you were in some way responsible?"

Interesting question. My parents had a a long marriage until my dad died, so there was no disruption of their relationship before then. My mother, like Greebo has remarked, liked the image of kids and a family but it was far from reality. She was emotionally distant with all of her kids. OTOH she herself grew up with an alcoholic parent who was physically absent and "not there" as a parent throughout much of her childhood. She reflected some of that parent's personality, but without the influence of alcohol.

She was a homemaker all her life, but wasn't "there" in the sense of understanding her children's needs and encouraging their aspirations or goals. There were a few occasions she would say a cutting remark to put a child in his/her place, without realizing the impact of her words. She would get extremely jealous when her husband, who easily made new friends and was an attractive man, got a lot of attention from other women and his own daughters.

For years I used to think on an emotional level that I was somewhat responsible for my mother's emotional unresponsiveness to me. Until I learned some of my mother's past from her alcoholic brother many years later when I was an adult. It took a while to piece together what I knew from my uncle and other relatives into some kind of explanation. She herself never discussed her childhood til she was in her eighties, and oh man, the hate and bitterness towards the old man was palpable. And I sat there, thinking, if she knew all this, why was it that she herself was cold towards her own kids? You'd think she would have changed how she herself would raise her kids--but didn't. Back to square one. But this time around I don't go thinking I was the one supposedly responsible for my mother's cold behavior.
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Re: Core values

Postby Greebo » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:51 am

Kimera1 wrote:The part I take exception to is “let them be ordinary.” Categorizing kids as ordinary is no different than slapping a gifted label on them; it doesn’t recognize the needs of the individual.
By ‘let them be ordinary’ I meant not push them into a ‘gifted’ role. Idk, perhaps not having the legacy of the tripartite system to worry about, the role of a gifted child is more flexible/variable in the states.

If you have a child with above average intelligence, that child will be performing at a completely different level than their peers and may have difficulty fitting in because of it. To ignore that this child needs to be managed differently would be a mistake, I think.
There is a danger in this sort of thinking. Take for example the high intelligence equals alienation trope. It may well be true that the high intelligence of one child plays into their issues with fitting in. However it doesn’t follow that not fitting in is evidence of intelligence, or that intelligence itself is the reason that a child with above average intelligence doesn’t fit in.

It’s a bit like the people who interpret the fact that they were chronically bored and underperformed at school as being because they were too clever for the school system. There may be some truth for the minority but for the majority it’s just reinterpreting a shameful event in a way which is more palatable for their self esteem.

My personal experience is that intelligence (at least in the IQ sense) isn’t that big a factor in social success or achievement for that matter, social skills/experience and effort/commitment respectively being far more deterministic.

Interesting contrast, you and Michael. Two completely different personalities, and I think a good example of no such thing as an ordinary kid. By your description it seemed a fait accompli that you would end up in very different places in life, regardless of how you were raised.
What I was driving at with Michael was that in a way we were both treated in a way which was not consistent with the requirements of our temperament.My parents system which involved constantly reining me in and disapproving/devaluing all those behaviours which were not ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ but simply not consistent with their idea of ‘what I should be doing’ as well as ‘not viewing me with rose tinted spectacles’, always pushing for greater achievement etc meant that I was being subjected to a stream of continuous negative reinforcement. Had I had issues with drive and responsibility then perhaps it would have been a more reasonable method, but my issue as a child was never lack of drive but lack of self-confidence. Curiously my parents did recognise that but their reaction was very much akin to yelling ‘relax’ at an anxious person.

Michael contrastingly was always very self satisfied and confident but also passive and unengaged.

Are you saying that the pressure you felt to perform was due in large part to exceedingly high expectations of your parents, and not something intrinsic to your nature? Would your journey be different had your parents pressured you less?
The over dependence on the use of (mostly) soft but continuous negative reinforcement played a significant role, which was itself caused by their high expectations and wanting, what in their minds, was best for me.

There where however many other factors my illness primary amongst them. Prior to illness my social interactions with others had provided a kind of counterbalance to my parent’s pushing. However 4 years in pretty constant isolation and severe ptsd inhibited the development of my social abilities. The illness itself cut off a lot of the more active paths in life I would probably have been more suited to etc. My mother becoming critically ill on more than one occasion and my father’s inability to cope, mistreatment by the school and bullying by one teacher (who was later sacked, thankfully), collapse of a group of friends due to one of them being too fond of the kiddies and the various threats and recriminations that followed, and many other circumstances (not least of which were some of my own choices) all contributed to getting me to the point were academic performance in the sciences felt like it was my only way out.

The situation I had got myself in by my early twenties was a bit like a nuclear disaster in the sense that it wasn’t what happened because one thing had gone wrong but because 50 small things had gone wrong consecutively.

As for the pressure being intrinsic to my temperament, no I don’t think so. That was something who’s development can be easily tracked and notably became worse over time quite obviously in response to the various other disasters.

Also noting that you put the word “only” in front of speech therapist. Made me smile because seems like something my Dad would do.
Here used to quickly imply the relative disparity in terms of intellectual ‘giftedness’ and parental expectations between both our professions and our respective positions within them.

Well, you don't strike me as a particularly easy adult, either. I think it’s part of your charm. :P
probably true, the intensity is certainly temperamentally intrinsic. The fact that much of my temperament derives from my father’s family, but I was raised almost exclusively by my mother’s family who are quite different, may also have played into some of the issues mentioned above.

I don’t fault my mother for feeling resentful about my Dad leaving her with two children for another woman and a whole new life. But parents must try and shield their children from adult problems and put their struggles to the side and focus on the child’s needs. For me this is non-negotiable tenet: adults must protect children. She didn’t have the fortitude or emotional maturity to do it and I see that as a major failing on her part.

As for placing blame on myself, it’s probably there somewhere, deeply buried. I don’t care to spend time wallowing in the past. I had a rough start but that experience helped me to become resourceful and resilient – and as a result I’ve landed on my feet and am doing quite well for myself. I think one of the reasons I have an allergic reaction to therapy is I don’t wish to re-visit that unpleasant childhood experience at this point in my life.
I ask as I recall our previous discussion where you said that you felt that all persons with NPD felt like an unwanted or fundamentally unloveable child underneath. Your description of your mother’s behaviour seemed to tie in well with that development, perhaps why various therapists are so interested in it.
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Re: Core values

Postby Kimera1 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:05 pm

Greebo wrote:By ‘let them be ordinary’ I meant not push them into a ‘gifted’ role. Idk, perhaps not having the legacy of the tripartite system to worry about, the role of a gifted child is more flexible/variable in the states.

It’s hard to know if our frameworks are comparable in this discussion. There may be relevant geographic differences. Also iirc you went to private school which changes the landscape as well.

Greebo wrote:There is a danger in this sort of thinking. Take for example the high intelligence equals alienation trope. It may well be true that the high intelligence of one child plays into their issues with fitting in. However it doesn’t follow that not fitting in is evidence of intelligence, or that intelligence itself is the reason that a child with above average intelligence doesn’t fit in.

It’s a bit like the people who interpret the fact that they were chronically bored and underperformed at school as being because they were too clever for the school system. There may be some truth for the minority but for the majority it’s just reinterpreting a shameful event in a way which is more palatable for their self esteem.

I understand your point here, and I don’t disagree. However, my experience with the public school system here in the states is that the programs are designed for expediency and to bolster standardized test scores, not to nourish young minds. If you have a different learning style or pace, you’re a problem.

We churn out professional test-takers, not scholars. Not critical thinkers.

Greebo wrote:My personal experience is that intelligence (at least in the IQ sense) isn’t that big a factor in social success or achievement for that matter, social skills/experience and effort/commitment respectively being far more deterministic.

I won’t argue this point. Not because you’re right but because you have more debate stamina than I do right now. I’m having a bad sleep week for some reason. I reserve the right to put the gloves back on when I’m better rested.

One sleep-deprived question….what are you thinking is the measure of success here? Is it the shorter-term academic achievement or the longer-term life/career achievement (and this is the starting point)?

Greebo wrote:What I was driving at with Michael was that in a way we were both treated in a way which was not consistent with the requirements of our temperament.

What do you think may have been different for you, or Michael, if you’d been treated in a manner more consistent with your needs/temperament?

Greebo wrote:I ask as I recall our previous discussion where you said that you felt that all persons with NPD felt like an unwanted or fundamentally unloveable child underneath. Your description of your mother’s behaviour seemed to tie in well with that development, perhaps why various therapists are so interested in it.

Yes. You getting much snow over there?
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Re: Core values

Postby Kimera1 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:17 pm

realityhere wrote:For years I used to think on an emotional level that I was somewhat responsible for my mother's emotional unresponsiveness to me. Until I learned some of my mother's past from her alcoholic brother many years later when I was an adult. It took a while to piece together what I knew from my uncle and other relatives into some kind of explanation. She herself never discussed her childhood til she was in her eighties, and oh man, the hate and bitterness towards the old man was palpable. And I sat there, thinking, if she knew all this, why was it that she herself was cold towards her own kids? You'd think she would have changed how she herself would raise her kids--but didn't. Back to square one. But this time around I don't go thinking I was the one supposedly responsible for my mother's cold behavior.

For what it's worth, when it comes to the "why was it that she herself was cold...." question, I tend to think it's less about choice and more about ability. It's probably very hard, if not impossible, for her to behave in a warm and compassionate manner towards others when she was so deprived.
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Re: Core values

Postby SoloZombie » Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:07 am

You too make a cute couple.
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Re: Core values

Postby realityhere » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:10 am

@kimera,

Same observation here re: my mother. With the kind of family environment she grew up in, I can only presume she more or less had to fend for herself and had difficulties relating to others in her childhood. Such dynamics extended to her own family with kids of her own when she became an adult. She had some narcissistic traits, but I believe her avoidant traits were more dominant. She once envied a cousin of hers who had a very loving and close-knit relationship with her children. She obviously knew there was a difference between how her kids related to her and how her cousin's kids related to their mom. It was a weird, uncomfortable moment of me and two of my sibs (as adults) exchanging glances with each other as we heard her make that remark about her cousin and her kids. Talk about being put on the spot...it certainly wasn't our fault that she was emotionally unresponsive throughout our childhoods. It felt like she was blaming us, and not her own behavior. Totally weird that she didn't see her part.

@SoloZombie,

Lol. That kimera and Greebo cuteness been going on for a few years now. :wink:
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Re: Core values

Postby Greebo » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:48 am

Kimera1 wrote:I understand your point here, and I don’t disagree. However, my experience with the public school system here in the states is that the programs are designed for expediency and to bolster standardized test scores, not to nourish young minds. If you have a different learning style or pace, you’re a problem.

We churn out professional test-takers, not scholars. Not critical thinkers.
I don’t have the experience to disagree with you here, nor is what you say inconsistent with my own experience of British public school. On the other hand isn’t getting children to reach a certain threshold of knowledge what secondary education is all about? Frankly undergraduate higher education is much the same, a means of giving you the required foundation to start your training in a specific area. From my perspective people only really get into the kind of learning you are talking about at the postgraduate level.

That being said my own experience only really encompasses the sciences so it may be otherwise in different fields.


One sleep-deprived question….what are you thinking is the measure of success here? Is it the shorter-term academic achievement or the longer-term life/career achievement (and this is the starting point)?
Both I think. That being said I do get regularly reminded that I overestimate the abilities of others so there is probably an element of ‘if I can do it, why can’t you?’ Involved here.

What do you think may have been different for you, or Michael, if you’d been treated in a manner more consistent with your needs/temperament?
That question is a little too expansive for me to give you a sensible answer. Broadly I think I’d be less successful but also happier with much, much less neurosis. That’d be a fair trade in my view.

You getting much snow over there?
lol, no it’s very mild. The wild snowdrops and daffodils are already out.
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