By Shari Hill.
According to Shari Hill, it was that “amazing camaraderie” that develops over 10 weeks that drew her in and kept her involved in SENG-Model Parent Groups (SMPG). Shari is nearing the end of her first term as the president of the SENG board of directors and has been actively involved as both a participant and a trained facilitator of SMPGs for over a decade.
Shari learned of SENG when she contacted the California Association for the Gifted seeking information and guidance in raising her own two gifted children. The focus of SENG struck a chord with her. “Academics was never a problem with either of my kids,” she explains. “My husband and I were never concerned about our kids getting A’s. It was the social/emotional aspect of giftedness where I felt we needed support.”
As a participant in a SMPG, Shari saw that although a wide range of parenting styles exists, the concerns that parents of gifted kids have are all surprisingly similar. “I’d look around room and see the energetic nodding of heads. People were saying ‘Oh my gosh, same here!”
Later, as a facilitator, Shari found that “parents reflect the traits of their gifted children – they’re verbal, excitable, emotional, and in need of support and validity – all traits that can create tension between parents and children.” It’s this tension that keeps the groups engaged in their weekly discussions. Facilitators help the group explore one of these topics each week:
• Characteristics of gifted children
• Idealism, unhappiness, and depression
• Siblings and only children
• Complexities of successful parenting.
According to Shari, just as important as what they learn is the sharing and bonding that take place throughout the weekly sessions. “Many groups, or partial groups, continue to meet beyond the scheduled sessions, for coffee, lunch, etc. And many participants encourage their spouse, friend, or neighbor to take part.”
Another benefit to parents of taking part in a SMPG is gaining some insight into their own giftedness. Says Shari, “Inevery group, a parent will bring up some issue that relates back to him or her growing up gifted.”
Since the SENG-Model Parent Groups were created, hundreds, if not more, facilitators have been trained to lead them. Training takes on two levels, introductory and advanced. Both levels will be available at the SENG conference.
To find out more about SENG-Model Parent Groups and the topics they address, see these books:
• Gifted Parent Groups: The SENG MODEL, 2nd ed. by DeVries and Webb, Great Potential Press, 2007
• A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, by Webb, Gore, Amend and DeVries, Great Potential Press, 2007
• Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers, by Webb, Meckstroth and Tolan, Great Potential Press, 1989. ________________________________________________________
Shari Hill is the President of SENG and the mother of two gifted children, ages 23 and 20. As a SENG-Model Parent Group Facilitator as well as a Facilitator Trainer, she continues to offer support to gifted families. A former nurse, teacher, and pilot, she is currently a full time volunteer.