by Sheri Plybon

Each year as holidays approach, I have a sense of inner turmoil: the season of giving, captured by the intense commercialism to give presents to all relatives, friends, and a few acquaintances in the office Secret Santa. But the giving of a gift rarely surfaces.

Gifts are precious, thoughtful. They continue to give long after holidays are past and involve a much deeper emotional tie between the giver and recipient.

Watching my children, I realized only a very few presents were cherished. These followed their passions and the internal dimensions of personal intellectual strengths: Travis and computers; Todd with his scientific equipment; and Andrea, all things musical. These presents met the needs of the intellect but not the spirit.

As we find we need fewer things in our lives, we begin to realize the wants, and especially those of our gifted children who sense that their needs are met but their wants are not: to want an end to poverty; an end to war; a way to help those who have daily struggles – to find food, to know how to read, to have shelter and safety.

So, this year as in years’ past, as a family, we select an organization or charity whose mission we support and contribute service or give a monetary donation (equal to the amount of money spent on presents we would give or receive within our family). This is now a tradition in our family.

If the organization is local, we can become involved on a regular basis, and this helps children learn to give at a personal level as well. If the charity is national or global, we follow the organization for the year on their web site. The following year we evaluate whether we feel that we should continue with this organization, find a new one or add another to our holiday list to support. This is one way that, as a parent, I can Support the Emotional Needs of my Gifted children.

Perhaps the most important thing I have found is that the spiritual side of giftedness became more important to my children. They are more aware of others’ needs, and that service to others feels right. Traditions like this evolve from the emotional and spiritual side of giftedness and are the core of service and helping others reach their potential.

A Few Guidelines:

  • Write a family ‘Mission to Serve’. This will help give you the basic guidelines for finding an organization – one for which your family has a passion.
  • Do the research first. Find out about the organization: Who are the founders (individuals or companies, endowments)?; How long have they been in existence?; Where are they headquartered (city, country)?; How is the money distributed?
  • If it is a local charity, what age must children be to volunteer? Parents go with children who volunteer and serve as well – a great way to role model!

These two organization websites can assist you with answers to your questions about charitable organizations:

http://www.charitywatch.org/

http://www.charitynavigator.org/

I wish you all a wonderful holiday filled with sharing, creating family memories, and giving of a gift to support for your spiritual and emotional needs.

Sincerely,

Sheri P.

Sheri Plybon has a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science from Loretto Heights College, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Colorado State University. She began her passion fro understanding giftedness through her own children and now her grandchildren. Ms. Plybon has been a Gifted Specialist for over 28 years in public education, K-12. She has presented at both national (NAGC) and state (colorado and Texas) Gifted Conferences. She has worked on curriculum development and staff development at state and district levels and is currently serving in her seventh year on the Texas Association for Gifted Board of Directors.

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