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Posted by: master of none

x - 06/28/12 07:02 AM

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Posted by: Iucounu

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 07:18 AM

Why are you afraid of her success? Is it jealousy or some other feeling based on comparisons with yourself? When you talk to other parents, is it based on the fear of exclusion from the group? Is it based on fear that you won't be able to provide for her needs if she is a star, or that she won't need you so much as a parent?

Is this really just a behavior pattern learned from your own parent(s)?

I'm mostly just tagging this thread out of interest, and I don't have any expert advice, but I think you're taking the first step by being self-aware. You could try making specific efforts, planned in advance, to say specific things to encourage your daughter. It might get easier as you go on.

Some of your comments may actually be having the effect of spurring your daughter on, if she wants to prove to you what she can do.
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 08:09 AM

Originally Posted By: Iucounu
Why are you afraid of her success? Is it jealousy or some other feeling based on comparisons with yourself? When you talk to other parents, is it based on the fear of exclusion from the group? Is it based on fear that you won't be able to provide for her needs if she is a star, or that she won't need you so much as a parent?

Or are you afraid something bad will happen to her if/when she beats others? Did something bad happen to you?

There are, actually, many reasonable fears in this area - but there are probably better strategies available than sabotage :-) I agree that being self-aware is hugely important, but I for one find that hard in these areas that are emotionally fraught.

Some of my feelings about DS's success are pretty complicated, too, but as I try to articulate them into a succinct paragraph to see whether there are things in common with what you're saying, I fail... Parenting a very unusual kid is not easy, and neither is being one, and I find my feelings on parenting one get mixed up with leftover feelings about being one. I don't think I sabotage (him!) but I do other weird things. I find it very hard to trust his teachers and school, even though they've been great so far, and I'm sure this is because mine failed me, for example. When I talk to a teacher (e.g. at a candidate senior school) who just doesn't get him, I am infuriated, but also in an odd way I relax - this attitude I understand!
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 09:08 AM

Oh dear. I can certainly identify with THIS:

I find my feelings on parenting one get mixed up with leftover feelings about being one.

and

...in an odd way I relax - this attitude I understand!


Yes. In my case, I have a conditioned response that being proud of one's accomplishments and attributing them to skill/practice/effort, and/or being confident is all fine.... as long as it is regarding 'average' ability or accomplishments, that is.

Once it goes beyond that, it goes direcctly into the domain of-- well, being fat-headed and insufferably rude/arrogant. I guess that in this world-view, the exceptional musicians, atheletes, and chess players are all "someone else." wink Yes, some baggage on that score. No wonder I developed imposter syndrome in a big way and have trouble being assertive. This was my thanks to own mother, by the way.

This was the only way that she had of relating my HG+ behaviors to her own world-view-- to frame this as "not real" aside from in my head, and to coach me to: a) fall short/fail, and b) doubt myself and keep my mouth shut. Otherwise I was anomolous to the point of being "does not compute," so it was easier for her to 'take me down a peg' (sabotage) so that I wouldn't do those things that made it hard for her to accept who/what I was.

I am so fearful of doing that to my daughter, and I just CRINGE when I hear myself talk about her sometimes, because I cannot just make a complimentary observation about her to others. I have this pathological need to add "yeah, that part is terrific, but {this other thing she does is sure annoying/immature/dumb}." Just to make sure that they know she isn't insufferably arrogant and neither am I. frown


This is complicated by resentment and, yes, even overt jealousy sometimes. Resentment because my DD's every success is evidence of how spectacularly my own parents failed to actually nurture me or give me what I needed as a gifted child, and sometimes, even toward DD who doesn't "appreciate" all that she has that I didn't. I'm also jealous of her. Maybe 'envious' is the better term, but when she turns into a passive, uninterested slug who doesn't care about any of the extraordinary opportunities she has... well, then I get pretty grumpy over it. She certainly lacks a lot of the drive and motivation that I had... which, yes, makes me even angrier at my own (long-gone) parents.


Being self-aware is a very good start. I know that I've been able to avoid a lot of the subtle sabotage by simply addressing things OVERTLY with my DD.

"Are you afraid that if you win _________, {friends} will feel bad? Be angry with you?"

"It's okay to sometimes do less than your absolute best. There are lots of reasons to do that sometimes-- maybe you're just tired, or you don't want to win that day."

I also ask a lot of questions about the social dynamics of success, to make sure that my DD isn't self-handicapping without being aware of it. This is very important with a HG+ girl, particularly in adolescence. It's all so very complicated for them.


Complicated for us as parents, too. It's amazing to me how seductively 'comfy' those dysfunctional patterns are, when I find myself slipping into that "yeah, but" meme that I learned from my mother.

I've never seen this overtly addressed in any books on GT parenting. The places that do discuss it tend to do so in the context of dysfunctional parenting related to substance abuse/mental illness. Relating to the negative patterns that we learn and not having a template for doing 'better' there, I mean.

Posted by: Grinity

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 12:52 PM

Hi MON - It's very beautiful that you have a vision of what you want to create.

I'd recommend you start small, and work your way towards the full picture of what you want.

One possible babystep might be the 'Active Recognitions' described in the 'Transforming your difficult child' books
Originally Posted By: http://www.thesuccessfulparent.com/discipline/giving-recognition

Active Recognition
Active recognition can be compared to offering a verbal snapshot that notices the child's ordinary actions and moods. It is simply describing in detail what you see your child doing or feeling in any given moment. Some examples are as follows:

"I see you are building a house with two windows, a door, and a chimney. It looks strong enough to avoid being blown down by a storm."

"I noticed you were practicing your free throws outside for a long time. You seemed frustrated when you couldn't get the ball to drop in easily."

In each of these examples there is recognition of what is being done - the activity itself and the child's involvement in it. In the second example the recognition extends to how the child is feeling during the course of the action. You'll notice that both statements are fairly detailed and are devoid of any sort of commentary or judgement. Both of these characteristics are very important. The detail lets the child know that you really are paying attention. If you said something more general such as "nice house" or "good free throws," the comments lose their punch. The details let the child know you are observing very carefully what he's doing. The added attention to the feeling or mood communicates deeper attentiveness and caring on your part, as well as understanding. The lack of commentary or judgement allows the statements to stand as they are, simply as recognition. The child feels both noticed and accepted.


If I were in your shoes, I might set the timer on my watch to ring every 45 minutes. When I heard the timer, I would take 3 slow deep breaths, and then find my kid and try an 'Active Recognition.' Then I'd take 3 more deep breaths - like a deep breath sandwich. If my kid wasn't around, I'd go ahead and practice on who ever I could find, including myself. That might sound like this: 'Right now I'm sitting in front of the computer and writing a post. I'm feeling nervous that it might not be helpful, but in spite of my perfectionism, I'm plowing ahead anyway. I'm doing this excersize even though it feels really unnatural.'

Love and More Love,
Grinity
Posted by: Evemomma

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 01:06 PM

Great advice, Grinity. Another book that really speaks to how our words effect our kids is "Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk".

My dh is beyond humble, often self-effacing. I have been concerned with our kids picking up on this fear of pride he has. I asked him to do this when he receives a compliment or accolade: smile and say "Thank You"...and not diatribe about the 20+ ways that the complimentor (my new word?) is sorely mistaken. Whether he gnaws his inner cheek raw is his on prerogative.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 01:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Evemomma
My dh is beyond humble, often self-effacing. I have been concerned with our kids picking up on this fear of pride he has. I asked him to do this when he receives a compliment or accolade: smile and say "Thank You"...and not diatribe about the 20+ ways that the complimentor (my new word?) is sorely mistaken. Whether he gnaws his inner cheek raw is his on prerogative.

That's a tough one. We also had trouble with 'what to say when one makes a bad throw' - it got a bit elaborate.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 02:14 PM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma

This is complicated by resentment and, yes, even overt jealousy sometimes. Resentment because my DD's every success is evidence of how spectacularly my own parents failed to actually nurture me or give me what I needed as a gifted child, and sometimes, even toward DD who doesn't "appreciate" all that she has that I didn't. I'm also jealous of her. Maybe 'envious' is the better term, but when she turns into a passive, uninterested slug who doesn't care about any of the extraordinary opportunities she has... well, then I get pretty grumpy over it. She certainly lacks a lot of the drive and motivation that I had... which, yes, makes me even angrier at my own (long-gone) parents.


I don't know the details of your family life, but if they provided for you and did not mistreat you, that should count for a lot. Parents thiry or fourty years ago loved their children, but I think they typically had a more laissez-faire approach, trusting the schools to educate their children and not thinking they needed to be always be supervising or stimulating them.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 02:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Bostonian
if they provided for you and did not mistreat you, that should count for a lot.

As far as I can tell, that does count for a lot, and yet the nature of a lot of us is to be completely filled with both gratefullness for the good and with regret for what 'might have been.' That way we have 'access' to all of the availible information. All the possible truths of the situation. Make sense?
Love and More Love,
Grinity
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 03:00 PM

Agreed, Bostonian. My family life was borderling neglectful and chaotic, and my parents were too engrossed in their own problems to pay any attention to me, which is how they wanted it. They didn't want involvement in extracurriculars or awards ceremonies any more than they wanted conferences with teachers and behavioral interventions. KWIM? It's not unjustified resentment/bitterness, it's just not helpful or particularly healthy at this point in my life.

I also have to guard against pushing DD to do things that I wanted to do (but couldn't) as a kid. When she fails to appreciate those things, I really have a hard time not feeling irritated, which isn't rational.

On the bright side, there is no WAY that I am that bad a parent, no matter how horribly I might mess up the little things on occasion. So I do have that, and many parents don't. smile

Great advice, Grinity!! Love that technique of active recognition!
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 03:51 PM

Oh good HK - I was a little nervous to be 'speaking for you' but I've been in that space...
Seriously - Gifted people can make great parents or not such great parents. If we decide to prioritize parenting we can be awesome - all of us here qualify as parents who care 'by definition.'

But when sitting around with a bunch of PG adults recently, and the talk turned to the intense, self-involved, possibly Narsicistic Grandparent generation it's quite an eye-opener.

Intense means that, like the girl with the forehead curl, when we are good, we are very very good, and when we are bad we are horrid.

So either we are doing the externalized Perfectionism thing, which we certianly do at times, or PG Adults who don't actively prioritize their role as parents can really be hard to grow up with. See 'Dibs in Search of Self' or 'Drama of the Gifted Child' if you can stomach it.

Of course when I hear stories of self-involved Grandparents, I think of what life must have been like for them as unidentified, unaccomdiated gifted children way back when. But that's just the shape of my mind - seeing connections and mirror images everywhere.

We need each other.
Grinity
Posted by: DeHe

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 05:29 PM

Hi MoN
I really commend you for raising this issue, not only with yourself (which sounds odd sorry) but also here. I am very conscious of how I talk about my DS to him and about him. I was one of those, well sure he's great at this but did you see how he did that, untill I caught him listening. I realized i was doing it to fit in. The choice for me has been to be more silent than is my nature about certain issues, and even with friends who have been super supportive, I worry that I sound like I am bragging.

With DS my fears, concerns come from my childhood. This whole rollercoaster with DS has raised so many issues about my childhood, some known and others not. And mine was not neglectful but rather a problem of intention - my father particularly believed that if he did not push, if he relaxed then we would, which is of course what happened to him. But his form of pushing was often very psychologically hurtful - and it was very much of the don't think you are such hot stuff variety because these others are better or I can find flaws in your accomplishment. And some of his doozy's have stayed with me, because they were not one offs.

The reason I commend you for asking and trying to change is that the damage from the continued degradation that I experienced is incredibly persistent. Your stuff doesn't sound quite like what I dealt with, but your dd might be more sensitive. I don't mean to offend here, so I hope it's not coming across that way.

My parents loved me, provided for me, and are proud of me. But I have little to no pride in my accomplishments. It's like as soon as I achieve, it's done, then what's the next thing I haven't done, or am not doing well enough. Or I try to find the one small area in a sea of good, like looking for the 10% rather than celebrating the 90%. But I am not a perfectionist. So it's not about my work or my work habits it's about my joy, my pride and my sense of self worth. And the worst part, especially for a girl, is the looking for validation, the craving to be patted on the back, job well done, or continual proof that you are loved. We all have that, but when it's the only thing driving you, there's no satisfaction in the work or the accomplishment. Or much in the way of self worth either. So it was very strange to be confident in my skills and accomplishments - but only up to a certain point - can my confidence in my skills be considered arrogance, possibly, I am good at a number of things, including my profession, but internally, something is missing as to me there is always someone or someting better, which means I did not do enough. It messes with your head in very strange ways.

In your sentence - wow, that kid will be hard for you to beat - a simple change to wow, that kid is tough or good, without the comparison I think is the difference. The implicit statement in our sentence is that your dd won't be able to beat her - just take out your judgement of your DDs skills - or turn it around, wow, she's good, do you think she will be hard to beat? Then you are saying yes, you can beat her but it might take work. Now if dd chooses to not do the work, that is her choice.

I have said some things that I hope DS does not remember - like noticing all the mistakes rather than what's awesome. It astounds me that I can do that knowing what the cumulative effect can be, I am trying so hard to not repeat my parents flaws - and recognition is the first step.

Sorry so long, struck a nerve!

DeHe
Posted by: JonLaw

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/28/12 06:42 PM

Originally Posted By: DeHe
It's like as soon as I achieve, it's done, then what's the next thing I haven't done, or am not doing well enough.


This is a very concise statement of what the day to day practice of law feels like.
Posted by: DeHe

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/29/12 09:40 AM

Glad to help! And I'm glad it didn't sound too bad, after reading it once, I got worried so was torn between not posting or adding the disclaimer!!

DeHe
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 06/29/12 10:11 AM

Originally Posted By: JonLaw
Originally Posted By: DeHe
It's like as soon as I achieve, it's done, then what's the next thing I haven't done, or am not doing well enough.


This is a very concise statement of what the day to day practice of law feels like.


So you're saying that my DD's chosen profession is a natural fit-- maybe even a "calling"-- for my perfectionistic, slightly neurotic, argumentative, bibilioholic child? eek

wink
Posted by: CCN

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 07/02/12 06:00 PM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma


I just CRINGE when I hear myself talk about her sometimes, because I cannot just make a complimentary observation about her to others. I have this pathological need to add "yeah, that part is terrific, but {this other thing she does is sure annoying/immature/dumb}." Just to make sure that they know she isn't insufferably arrogant and neither am I. frown



YES.... me too!!! (poor kid). With BOTH of them. I can't just say something nice - it has to be followed by something derogatory. I'm so afraid of "bragging" or alienating people.

Sometimes I feel like my kids' successes puts them directly in the line of fire (that was my own personal experience as a kid). Mediocrity and anonymity can be much less painful sometimes.

Posted by: ABQMom

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 07/02/12 07:10 PM

I think you first have to do some serious self-searching to understand what is at the core of your fear of your children's success to really know how to address it. If it comes from seeing a propensity towards arrogance and superiority, you'd definitely address how you handled it much differently than if it came from familial comments that made you worried about how others would react to your childs' successes, etc.

For my older two, being in a competitive sport that challenged them to beat their own last best score as well as competing against peers helped build a lot of character about how to handle their successes and failures. And because there were two siblings competing in the same sport, learning to temper one's own joy of success with sympathy for a sibling's bad performance also came with the territory. Maybe because it was physical and not mental, they were also far more comfortable being proud of their own success than they ever were in the academic realm.

Don't beat yourself up for it, though. I'm impressed with your level of honesty in looking at yourself and think it's probably a sign of being a very good parent. smile

Posted by: Iucounu

Re: Parental Fear of Success - 07/02/12 07:51 PM

Originally Posted By: master of none
Locounu: You seem to have your head in the right place regarding competition. Could you share your perspective on what it feels like to be good at things and to enjoy that you are good at it so I have a sense of what it feels like to dd?

Also, What do you say to a kid when they ask if you think the team will win, if they ask if you think they will personally win, etc?

I didn't ignore your post, but I've had to mull it over. I don't think I'm a good person to ask for advice on these issues, partly because I seem to be atypical and partly because I haven't successfully parented anyone yet (through to the end, at least).

I don't know if I would say I have my head in the right place regarding competition. For one thing, there is a crushing-the-other aspect for me, which makes me feel good at the time but unhappy afterwards that I've caused someone to feel small. I know the specific seminal experiences that caused this, but it's hard to get past. I hope my children value excellence for its own sake, or, even better, that they're excellent at things as a matter of course and don't give much thought to competition for its own sake.

I'm also more focused on validation from others than I'd like. I think there are lots of reasons one can engage in competition and this must be a big one, the thrill when someone awards a prize or strokes the ego, but it can give rise to depression when one goes for a stretch without the validation one craves. For me I think I value praise too much, but I also think I'd be just as happy if someone were to be afraid to face me. :|

What it feels like for me, when I'm working on a legal or other intellectual problem, is probably not what it feels like for most people either. I focus intensely and for long periods of time, which is probably true of a lot of high-functioning people, but probably not to quite the same extent. I over-prepare. I also have a weird mental trick I can perform, where I give myself adrenaline jolts just by thinking of certain things. It causes heart palpitations afterwards, but I can "go to 11" on a moment's notice.

What I feel when I am in a hearing (that I care about, which generally involves protecting someone from loss or a harsh consequence) is completely keyed up, to the point that time seems to slow down. I'm excited by the fact that, good or bad as I may be, I am the only one standing between my client and a disaster, and I would rather die than let that disaster happen, quite literally.

I'm psychologically stripped down by that point, due to over-caffeination and lack of sleep. I don't need notes, although I do take them, because I remember everything that anyone says and cross-reference it with everything new that comes out at the hearing, looking for things to exploit. And when there's an opportunity to show righteous indignation, I can be almost feral... that's the best. I sometimes shock my clients the first time they see me in action at a hearing, because I'm so laid-back in general.

When I was in software development, I would often focus extremely hard as well, but it wasn't nearly as nerve-wracking and my energies were channeled in more healthy ways based on love of making quality output, etc.

I don't know that I really have anything helpful to give you. I'm a high school dropout who's overly focused on winning, and who nearly gives himself heart attacks on a weekly basis. Not a good model. laugh