Alright, I think it is about time that we (yes, you and me mamas) take on this whole gifted nonsense and put it all out in the open. We talk a lot about the ways we moms judge each other for our challenges, but what we seem to not want to admit is how much we also judge each other for our perceived strengths (or those of our children).
I happen to be raising two children who have been identified in our educational system as “Gifted”. Do I LOVE that label? No, not so much.
Do I think that each and every child has “gifts”? You bet I do! However, I didn’t come up with the label, the criteria, or anything else to do with it. It’s what my kids and I are stuck with.
It is clear to me that people have attached a whole lot of meaning to the word “gifted” that it doesn’t deserve. As a result, people assume things about gifted kids, and their parents, that are rarely true. So, I’m ready to tackle some of these myths so we can all get over ourselves.
Yes, my kid is gifted, but NO, that does not mean that your kid is stupid
I don’t think that way for one minute and I’m not out there comparing my kids to yours. Now, if you’re the one comparing, I really can’t do anything about that. My kids process information differently and while it might help them do better in school, that is no guarantee.
I was also labeled “gifted” as a child, but beyond 5th grade I could barely pass a math class without a tutor. I’m pretty sure I scored in around the 13th percentile on the math portion of the ACT. There are plenty of kids who excel academically that are not “gifted” and plenty of “gifted” kids who will struggle in school.
So many different factors go into making someone smart or stupid. It’s not all wrapped up in an IQ number or grades on a report card. To quote one of my all time favorite movie characters, Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as Stupid Does.”
Yes, my kid is “gifted”, but NO, that does not mean that he is better than your kid
Being “gifted” simply identifies something about how my kids think. Other children are “musical” or “funny” or “creative” or perhaps even all of those things. Just as any child has numerous words that identify both their strengths and their challenges, my children are not simply defined by the word “gifted”, and it doesn’t give them some kind of automatic pass to an exclusive club for specialness.
Yes, my kids is gifted, but NO, that does not mean that he will be more successful than your kid.
There is so much more that goes into a person’s success than a score on a test. We talk about the advantages of being street smart vs book smart and when it comes to making it in this world there is certainly something to be said for that bit of wisdom.
Gifted kids may do well in school, but once they get in the real world their intellect can’t help them navigate the more nuanced parts of professional work. Being gifted isn’t always compatible with leadership. That’s a whole different set of skills and gifts that often require being a “people person” and that isn’t always where gifted kids excel.
Yes, my kid is gifted, but NO, that does not mean life will be easier for him than for your kid
Being labeled “gifted” is not a fast pass to easy street. Gifted kids face plenty of struggles. They tend to be highly sensitive and intense with a profound awareness of complex issues, yet their young age leaves them emotionally unprepared to process the full extent of the information they absorb.
This often makes it difficult for them to fit in socially and to make friends, which can lead to a higher likelihood that they will be teased and bullied by their peers. Gifted kids can also put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves and believe that they SHOULD be excelling academically and in other areas of life, when that just isn’t the case. All of these challenges can make gifted children more vulnerable to depression and other mental health issues.
Yes, my kid is gifted, but NO, that doesn’t mean that I’m a better parent
I know in our current culture of competitive child rearing, sometimes the idea of a gifted child can seem like the brass ring of parental accomplishment, but other than a potentially small genetic contribution, the parents have nothing to do with it. Yes, a few parents are likely to wear their child’s giftedness like a badge of honor, but we see “those” parents in all areas of child rearing.
Please don’t automatically assume that all parents of gifted kids are like this or that we are part of some exclusive perfect parenting club. I have to work at Parenting, just as much as any other parent. And believe me, I’ll be the first to tell you my kids are no angels. Half the time I wonder if I could sell them on eBay. Plus, gifted kids cause plenty of parenting problems. Their endless questioning can be exhausting. They often have an intense and totally overdeveloped sense of justice and can be extremely argumentative. In addition, their intellectual abilities can also lead them to be highly manipulative.
Yes, my kids are gifted, but that doesn’t mean I should feel like I have to keep it a secret, because the very acknowledgment of it is somehow bragging. Plus, I hate that I feel like I have to hush my children anytime they mention it to someone for fear of how they will be perceived and treated. My children being gifted doesn’t take away anything away from anyone else’s children or make any kind of judgement. It doesn’t make them special as in better. It’s just one of many things that is special about them and they have a right to feel pride in that, just as any child has a right to and should feel pride in whatever makes them unique.
Whether your child is gifted or not, do you feel like you can’t share the positive things about them with other parents?
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