Giftedness Is NOT an Ego Trip

I get it.  I do.  We all want to feel that our kids are athletic, creative, smart, and well-liked.  I GET that some folks see a label of gifted as meaning that one out of those four things is in the bag, and maybe then some.  I *get* that hearing that someone else’s kid is reading Goethe in third grade might make you self-concious/worried that your kid is having trouble with chapter books. 

I’ve some parents are just plain braggers, including some parents of gifted kids.  Some parents get their egos stroked by talking about their kids, whether it is their shiny hair, or hockey goals, or IQ score.  Bragging isn’t really about the Pantene hair, slapshot, or IQ score though, not really – it is about the parents reassuring themselves that their kid is ok, and that they are good parents.

I’ve met plenty of parents of kids who seem to me to be gifted (and by this I mean demonstrating abilities or ways of thinking more advanced than one would expect of someone their age), who try to dodge the term “gifted” like its a gun pointed at them.  I infer that they don’t want to be perceived of as pushy or braggy, or that they think their kids are ‘bright’ but not geniuses, or that they don’t want their kids to be considered egotistical, or problem-children, or just plain geeky.

I’ve also met people like myself, who just don’t *know* if their kids are gifted.  I’m not ‘flaunting’ my kids’ processes and products, but nor am I denying or hiding them.  I’m not avoiding the term either, because I know that there are many things about my kids that DO match the lists of characteristics and issues of kids with giftedness.   I’m honestly ok with not knowing for now **because knowing wouldn’t change anything**.  We already homeschool our kids for who and where they are, and adjust as needed, and, judging from our happy, inquisitive, productive children, our way of doing things is working.  If that changes, so will our approach.  If only more parents of gifted kids were in the same comfortable boat…

Because here’s the thing: so many parents of kids with giftedness are NOT getting their kids’ needs met, either because they DO need testing and aren’t getting it (paperwork or money), or because teachers/doctors/etc aren’t *hearing* them about what their kids need, so they aren’t getting the help their kids must have.  These parents have to be very vocal advocates, and they might HAVE to get more than a little pushy in trying to secure resources for their kids, and some might even overstate their cases a bit. 

Be patient with them: they are just trying to get their kids what they feel they need, and are being frustrated at every turn.  This makes them feel angry, powerless, and afraid, and maybe even like they are failures as parents.

Does that sound egotistical to you?

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2 Responses to Giftedness Is NOT an Ego Trip

  1. Resa says:

    When my son was young, I couldn’t talk about him at all with my friends who had children. He could do so much that other kids his age couldn’t come close to that everything I said about him sounded like self-congratulatory bragging. He had a huge vocabulary, great social skills, advanced reasoning, superior physical coordination. Once when he was 4, he got lost in a big store and the security guards thought he was 7 or 8. He realized he was separated from us, hunted down a security guard and politely asked him to page his parents because he couldn’t find us. When your friend’s 4 year old just bit his classmate at preschool and shows no inclination to learn his ABCs, you can’t talk about your terrific kid without causing damage to your friendship.

    He was only tested once, when he was about 10, and only by accident. We had a specialist in to test my daughter for dyslexia and all because she was struggling with reading, and the specialist offered to do her various aptitude tests with my son as well, as she put it, “just so you’ll know”. She said in 26 years of testing children, he scored the highest she’d ever seen. At that point he was reading at the level of a college sophomore, for example.

    He’s 17 now and he’s still fairly far ahead, but knowing the test results didn’t really change a lot for us, so I’m curious as to why you think gifted children need to be tested. Not trying to be confrontational (or brag, ;-)), just curious as to what the value is for you.

    Oh, and my daughter turned out to have a diagnosis of “stubborn”. She did of course learn to read and she has some pretty amazing abilities of her own, like a stunning facility with Math and modeling things in 3D. Diagnosis “stubborn” wasn’t too helpful though. LoL, I already knew that. . .

    • Siggi says:

      Hi Resa, and thanks for the comment!

      Hunh. I certainly do NOT think that gifted kids need to be tested, so I’m glad you mentioned that my post made you think that I did! I DO think that testing can be a useful tool for families who have run out of ideas as to how to help their kids, since sometimes things slip by even parent radar. If things are going well though, or if a family would prefer to look to other tools instead, power to them!

      I’ve also done my share of tongue-biting when it has come to playground conversations, but I’ve also been grateful for the parents I’ve met who have risked being labeled as braggy, because then I knew I’d met a parent who might understand our situation. I used to try to ease into conversations about things after feeling someone out a bit, but now my kids pretty much speak for themselves, and it is pretty much a case of the cat being out of the bag. Kind of hard to avoid questions (or raised eyebrows) when your 3 yo is telling them about the chess game he played with Daddy last night…

      Stubborn? Really? A kid? Who knew! I have yet to meet a kid who isn’t stubborn about something. I kind of like butting heads with my kids, since it really draws my attention to whatever the situation is: Are my expectations reasonable and respectful? Is there something new I can learn about my kid here? Do we need to have a conversation about goal setting and what we each prioritize? As much as it sucks in the moment, I do find that I grow most as a parent from dealing with my kids at their most stubborn. 🙂

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