My Child is Gifted and I Can’t Talk About Him

My child is gifted and I can’t talk about him—

Because there is an incredibly fine line between simply

talking about your gifted child

and appearing to be

bragging.

 

Your baby began walking at 12 months old? That’s the typical age most babies learn to walk, so most of us would feel free to mention this fact in conversations with family and friends. Average is good, and it is acceptable to bring up in casual conversations.

Your baby began walking at 9 months old? That’s early to reach this developmental milestone so many of us may feel uneasy mentioning this fact in certain conversations because it may be perceived as bragging. We understand that talking about above-average achievements is often taboo.

Your child learned to read at 6 years old? Great! He’s right on target—that’s the average age children begin reading. Your friends are probably just fine with you talking about your child’s reading ability if he’s hitting literacy benchmarks at a typical pace.

Your child taught himself to read at 4 years old? Wow, that’s great! But, you may feel hesitant to say that out loud to others. Even though your child is reading sooner than expected developmentally, mentioning this fact to your friends may cause hurt feelings or bother others. It can easily be seen as bragging.

 

My child is gifted and I am very careful what I say about her.

 

What do you think? Which of these would be acceptable to say and which would be seen as bragging?

A. My child could do addition at 6 years old.

B. My child could do addition at 4 years old.

C. My child began reading chapter books at 7 years old.

D. My child began reading chapter books at 5 years old.

E. My child made the honor roll at school.

F. My child is in the gifted program at school.

 

 

All children reach developmental and educational benchmarks at different ages, but somehow society prefers to only hear about the average, not so much the above-average.

 

My child is gifted and I can’t talk about him because it may seem like bragging.

 

Every year when school starts, many proud parents post first-day-of-school photos on Facebook. “Ella’s first day of 3rd grade!” or “Jon is now in high school. I can’t believe it!” The parent of a 6 year old gifted child who skipped first grade probably would not want to post her child’s grade level with her first-day-of-school photo, making it known her child had skipped a grade.

 

My child is gifted and I need to filter what I say about him.

 

The conventions we’ve become accustomed to and which heavily influence our perspectives and ideas on child development are born out of both traditional school constructs and child development timelines. At a given age, your child should be walking, talking, reading, or doing 2-digit multiplication. As parents, we compare our child against these widely-held yardsticks of child development to make sure our child is developing, learning and achieving appropriately.

From when a child speaks her first words to her grade point average when she graduates high school, we all understand what is average, what is considered below-average and what is above-average for a child. What we seem to forget is that none of us have much control over when our baby’s first steps will be or when our child will learn to read. We can enrich and support their development, but it is unlikely or maybe even harmful to expect our children to accelerate their development and learning to a level they were not programmed to achieve. A child’s potential seems to be programmed into them from conception. With the appropriate support and nurturing, all children can reach their potential—I believe that.

Many parents of gifted children are reluctant and uneasy talking about their gifted child. There may not be much to say about their child that will not be misconstrued as bragging. Yet, as parents of gifted children, we love our child as any parent loves their child and we are proud of them, but not just because of their above-average achievements.

When someone mentions how well our 4 year old reads or how incredible it is that our 16 year old is in college, some of us feel the need to downplay our gifted child’s abilities by neutralizing the good with some bad. “Yes, Phillip started reading on his own at 4 years old, but he still has temper tantrums like a 2 year old!” Our intention is to tone down our child’s achievement with his shortcomings to ward off ill-feelings or being called a braggart. I wrote about this common situation in my post, “Envy and Your Gifted Child” and one reader thought she would call my bluff by claiming this toning down of a gifted child’s achievements was just a bad variation of the humblebrag.

 

My child is gifted and I’m not bragging.

 

Many gifted children learn at an early age that they are different than their age peers.They figure out in elementary school that they seem to learn more quickly than their classmates and often have very different intellectual interests. Gifted children also realize that their interests are not often shared by same-age peers. They may experience exclusion or teasing. It may only take one time being called a nerd or a show-off before they understand that they need to somehow be careful of what they are saying, too.

 

My child is gifted, and he can’t talk about what he likes and knows.

 

My Child is Gifted

This post is a sequel to my most popular post, “My Child is Gifted: Do You Think I’m Bragging Now?” In both posts, I wanted to show that despite a gifted child being intellectually advanced, they are children, first and foremost, and they do have normal, everyday shortcomings and problems—it is not all good. Yet, despite this, society views giftedness as being all good, and gifted children have it made. 

And when giftedness is viewed as all good, as parents, we are seen as bragging when we talk about our gifted child in most regards. It is unconscionable to me that parents of gifted children should feel the need to be careful what they say about their child or avoid talking about them altogether just so they are not said to be bragging or even humblebragging. Despite gifted children being born with these advanced cognitive abilities, many people simply do not want to hear about your gifted child. And even with these advanced cognitive abilities, they can also have emotional, social and educational issues. It is not all good.

Gifted children are children. They need nurturing, support and positive feedback as does every child. It is wrong that the parents of gifted children should feel uncomfortable talking about their gifted child, and gifted children should not feel uncomfortable being themselves.

 

My child is gifted and he and I both know we can’t talk about that.

90 Comments on “My Child is Gifted and I Can’t Talk About Him

  1. This is just the post I was looking for when searching the internet. My 3 year old just had a development assessment done as requested by his daycare who thought he might be ADHD/ADD. My partner and I both agreed he exhibited ADHD traits, but what ADHD 3 year old can sit for an hour reading books or learning about the planets or learning how to read a clock? Anyway, the ‘diagnosis’ has come back as ‘gifted’! We had talked about this possibility since he was 2 and was reciting word for word picture books after only being read them 1 or 2 times. I’m pretty sure he’ll be reading by 4 with no help from us. We joked about how he might be ‘gifted’, but even between us we were scared to mention the ‘gifted’ word! He has some social and emotional overexcitabilities that his daycare just don’t understand and we struggle to deal with, so we are having an OT to help him and us with those. Approaching his daycare to say he is ‘gifted’, not autistic or ADHD, took me back to my days when I came out as gay! It’s scary! The organisation who is supporting us said gifted kids are often as challenging as kids with ADHD or autism, so why shouldn’t we be able to talk about this openly without feeling like we are bragging. As much as I love his quirkiness and incredible mind, sometimes I just want him to be normal. He has been so intense and challenging from the day he was born and I’m exhausted! I just want people to understand that his giftedness isn’t going to make life easy for him.

    • Mel,

      I was nodding my head in agreement with everything you said while reading your comment. So many things I want to comment on, but mostly, yeah, having to say your child is gifted is scary–it’s the condition every parent craves for their child, but then they envy others who are gifted. Gifted is an oxymoronic condition–there’s good and bad together.

      Don’t be surprised that as your son continues through school that other teachers will ask for further ADHD testing because many teachers and administrators just don’t understand gifted traits such as intensity, behavioral reactions to boredom and accompanying social issues. One of my sons had three separate evaluations at various ages (5-yrs, 11-yrs and 13-yrs) for ADHD at the request of teachers and all three were not even in the ball park for ADHD red flags.

      The best thing you and your partner can do now is read and learn all that you can about giftedness, and be ready to be your son’s biggest advocate. You know him best, you understand giftedness, and go with your gut on what will be best for him!

      Mel, thanks for sharing your experiences here with us. The more we share, the more we help each other through this sometimes-rocky journey!

  2. I haven’t read through all of the posts, so forgive me if I am repeating. (also, my very first time commenting on a blog, ever!)
    I am struggling to understand how to deal with my 28 month old. I am convinced that he is gifted. I have tried to talk to some people, like my pastor’s wife and our pediatrician, about his talents (huge vocabulary, can count to 100, is learning to read, and just plain knows things that I’m not sure how he knows) and our struggle with learning to adapt to his certain sensitivities (the biggest ones right now: thunder and when the car hits bumps in the road). They look at me like I have two heads! I am not trying to brag. I just feel overwhelmed and am not sure what I’m doing most of the time. I stay up to all hours of the night searching all over the web for blogs or charts or anything to make me feel like I’m right in what I see in my child.
    Anyway, not sure of the point of my post, but I’m just glad that you have written the blogs that you have, and that maybe know I can type some things and no one will think I have two heads! 🙂

    • Oops! My child is now 33 months old, not 28 months. Where has the time gone?

    • Hi Heidi,

      There is a great Facebook group for parents of gifted children called Raising Poppies. It is a closed group and you can find all the help, information and support you need–almost 5,000 moms like you. And no, you don’t have two-heads although I certainly understand that feeling!

    • OH MY GOSH!! I have sooooooo been there. I have 2 kids that started reading at 2 and 3. Had HUGE vocabularies and my son called the art deco period ” the Gotham period” after he saw bat man the animated series at the ripe old age of 4. All of it is so hard. The tantrums that continue into teenagedom ( he’s now 13), the teachers being overwhelmed at what comes out of their mouths, The sensitve hearts.. all of it . I was very blessed to have a close friend who’s kids were the same way. We were able to bounce things off of each other and say SERIOUSLY HOW COULD KIDS THIS SMART BE THIS DUMB!!. If you need to , you can TOTALLY find me on face book . There are lots of great groups that help us all deal with this stuff.
      As far as what to do with your little one.. ENJOY IT. Bask in the glory of all that is childhood. He will continue to blow your mind. Put every drawing on the fridge. Read every book he wants to hear. It will all be gone so quickly . Look at him like every Professional Athleats Mom looks at their son and say .. THATS MY BOY!!

  3. Pingback: Bits and Clips for July 2016 | Polly Castor

  4. Pingback: Paris, Inquiry Learning, & Future Citizens – SLISing

  5. YES! I “work with” my son, apparently. (I don’t. The kid taught himself to read. Pretty galling for a former reading pedagogy professor, truth be known.)

  6. I learned this when I went looking for a peer group for my child. I saw one for “Mothers of Toddlers” and thought he might belong there because he was walking pretty well. He started at 8 months. He was twelve months old and he was running. I didn’t mention his age at first. One of the mothers mentioned that he was small for his age. That’s when I found out the group was for two-year-olds. They thought I was just desperate for company and let me stay for a while, but when my twelve-months-younger-than-theirs began to do better than theirs did at many things – walking, articulate speech, large vocabulary – they wanted me to teach them how to get those results with their kids. And so I learned that my perfect baby was “not normal”.

    When the second one spoke his first word at 4 months, I kept it quiet.

    • Same, same thing happened to me with my youngest! When he was in his 2-year old preschool class, I was asked by other moms what flash cards or computer programs I was using for him.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  7. p.s. Parents of sports-gifted kids don’t apologise for it, so neither should parents of kids who are intellectually gifted. They are who they are. Be happy and excited for them! And work on getting them what they need to be healthy and happy. 🙂

  8. This is something I used to do because I felt so uncomfortable talking about my son’s giftedness, but it’s one of the things I really regret now. He probably overheard me say more negative things about him than positive because of it. And why? So others didn’t feel uncomfortable with the pace that was natural and normal for him when they compared it to their child? He wasn’t doing anything wrong and neither were they…they were each moving at their own pace! But when I felt proud of my son and wanted to share, I was made to feel like I was bragging. If friends called to tell me about THEIR kids great achievements, they would add something along the lines of… “I’m sure C probably got an A or is way past that” and it wasn’t always said in a nice tone…even though I hadn’t done anything except praise their child and be happy with them when they told me their news. We had adults who felt it was fine to be rude to him and make snarky remarks like asking him (when he was 5 years old) if he had finished the dictionary yet and laughed. It wasn’t funny. I remember watching him try to respond to that and not knowing how to respond…he didn’t know if they were seriously asking him if he was reading the dictionary. He didn’t understand, at 5, that they were making him the butt of their jokes so they could feel better. Making him a freak for being who he was!

    Older and wiser, I look back and feel so bad that I worried more about my friends feelings than I did my little boy’s. It was not one of my better parenting moments, and if I could go back and do it all over, I wouldn’t make that mistake again. Both of my kids are amazing kids, not just because they are gifted, or skipped a couple of grades, but because they are interesting, caring, kind and cool people. I love them and I’m so proud of them. Not because they were ahead of “the norm”, but because I was excited to see them learning and be excited and reach milestones, as any parent is to see with their child. They aren’t in competition. I’m not in competition with other parents. I just love my kids. They are who they are and if their accomplishments and pace make other parents uncomfortable, well, I’m sorry about that, but really it’s not about them or their kid who has his or her own pace and needs. And I don’t need to bend over backwards to make them feel better at the expense of my own child’s feelings. I wish I had told him more how proud I was and talked less about the negatives that I thought gave me more common ground with other parents (cause ALL kids have tantrums no matter how gifted). So, my advice… love your child and celebrate your child and worry less about what other’s think or feel about it. You don’t need to apologise for your child being advanced and you certainly don’t need your child to learn from you that there’s something wrong with him (or her) for being who they are!

    • Suzy,

      Great advice for those just starting out on their journey–“You don’t need to apologise for your child being advanced and you certainly don’t need your child to learn from you that there’s something wrong with him (or her) for being who they are!”

      I really appreciate you sharing your story. You have helped so many others!

      Thank you, Suzy!

    • So sorry, but thank you for speaking what’s been in my heart as well.

  9. I am fortunate in that my son is both gifted and tall, so I was able to lie about his age when he attracted attention at the library, grocery store, etc. We ended up moving to a new city to get him into a school for profoundly gifted children. It was such a relief to be able to speak the truth about him to other parents and learn that we were not alone. He still attracts attention (now at age 12) but I don’t lie about him anymore.

    • Sarah,

      Relief. Yes, it feels like being part of a secret club and once you find someone else who belongs to that secret club, you can then feel free to talk, share and get support.

      And good for you for not feeling the need to lie about your wonderful son–I still beat around the bush until I feel I have an understanding ear!

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!

    • My son too is gifted and tall so many thought he was much older than he is and I found myself having to remind teachers, relatives and others that his heart is still young so that is growing at a rate more similar to his peers. I found myself trying to retain his innocence and youthful experiences.

  10. Many of the parents who have posted here might be able to find support in Mensa. Some local groups have great kids’ programs and all of the members were gifted children at one point. My group has a number of young members and there’s certainly no problem in parents who are not members accompanying their children to events. There’s also a website http://www.mensaforkids.org/ available to anyone.

  11. My son is gifted. He’s so smart and leaves me in awe. And when I say this it’s with sincerity and passion. But most people think n I’m bragging or my son is showing off. I ignore it and tell my son to. Ignore it too. He can be proud of what he does when he does it. We can talk like every other parent does. If they think it’s bragging that’s their issue not ours. My son knows that being as smart as he is some people will pick on him or tell him to stop being himself. And he also knows those people don’t matter. They are the dregs of society and do not deserve our time or smiles. We don’t get hurt feelings from those. We learn about that person and how they definately would not be good friends.

    I speak about short comings and achievements. Just like any other parent. Mind you what I speak about is what 2nd graders and high schoolers are doing. But age doesn’t matter. Accomplishment is an Accomplishment and deserves praise and happy smiles and doesn’t need to be hidden. If your child is brilliant talk to me about it. I’ll tell you kid they are awesome even if it’s 3 years early or a few years late. Age is just a number.

    • Thanks, Kris, for sharing how you handle talking about your gifted child. I sure admire your resolve to not let it bother you or your son. Your son is lucky to have a strong mom like you!

    • I personally get turned off on any self prompted promotion of off-springs or spouses. The day of humility as a virtue is gone.

      I am very proud of my son but I do not have to tell a soul to feel it.

      Moreover, people that really understand intelligence levels will know by the context of his activities. I have no need to be explicit.

  12. Pingback: My Child is Gifted: Do You Think I’m Bragging Now? | Crushing Tall Poppies

  13. This post brings tears to my eyes. I have a gifted child & I can’t talk about him. When he was first identified, I didn’t really believe it, in spite of the fact that he had an expansive vocabulary and spoke in full sentences before his first birthday. He was reading years ahead of his peers & could add, subtract, multiply & divide before kindergarten. I couldn’t accept the label & rejected it for years. I knew he wasn’t being challenged in school & found myself in the principals’ office every year asking for a more challenging curriculum for him & yet continued to struggle with the label. When I would speak to other parents I would always say “It’s a blessing and a curse that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

    The challenges have been never ending. Trying to teach him not to discuss his interests with his classmates, most ten year olds don’t understand fractal geometry. Teaching him that he’s very lucky to know what he’s good at, everyone is good at something, not everyone knows just what that might be yet. Watching him start to withdraw and be embarrassed because he was perceived as strange, different from his peers. Imposter syndrome has been & continues to be a problem. He’s in high school now & long ago I learned that I had to accept the term gifted if I were to fully accept my precious son for all that he is. The challenges continue to come day after day. He doesn’t ever speak about his course load, GPA, or accomplishments to his friends, EVER! He fields questions (why are you in high school?, how are you in my senior classes?) with a quiet, it’s just how it worked out. He knows, he can’t tell them that he’s in high school because his parents won’t let him go to college yet. He needs to date & learn to drive. He derserves to grow more secure & be supported. Next year, he will take 2 classes at the nearby college & 4 at the high school.

    I recognize that there’s no guide book on any child, but this gifted child rearing seems like it is so high stakes. Are we doing it right? Is he going to be ok? Will he end up closed off in a lab? Will he have a full & happy life? Is it a mistake to keep him in high school? How can we better support him? Parents of average kids think I’m bragging if I speak of his successes or challenges. I know how isolating it is as a parent, I can’t imagine how it must feel for him. It often feels overwhelming. I’m not bragging, I’m seeking understanding. I’m not competing, I’m longing for the compassion we offer to others. The grass is not greener on this side of the fence.

    • “The grass is not greener on this side of the fence.” <---- And that says it all! My heart breaks for you and your son. Why do our children have to hide who they are? Why do they have to feel like others won't accept them? It's is just so wrong. If others could just understand that what they believe to be an advantageous, smooth-sailing situation is not at all what they thought it was, and much to the contrary, it is difficult, then we could talk about our child. Then we wouldn't have to suffer in silence. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story and experience. The more we all speak up and speak out, the more likely we will be heard! Thank you, Dena!

    • Oh I wish I could listen to you brag every day! Sounds like your son is turning out fine which means you are doing a great job parenting. I teach gifted students and this whole comment thread is breaking my heart. I have two gifted sons and thankfully grandparents are happy to field the “bragging” in mpst cases. Keep up your good work!

  14. My first born, I had no experience or frame of reference for what the norm is suppose to be like so when my 1 year old began speaking in full sentences with an extended vocabulary I just thought wow! He is an early speaker. It must be because I never did baby talk with him. Then when he began reading at 3, I thought well it must be all the time we spent reading books together. When he learned to play chess at 4, I thought that was pretty cool. When he beat my husband at chess at age 7, that was remarkable. This year, at age 9, when he began playing piano for the first time he played by ear. In the last 6 months since he has been playing he has composed about 5 songs. It was then I really knew he was different and he was gifted. I recently began taking my son to Minds in Motion programs and joined CT Association for the Gifted, CAG, and being able to speak with other parents and educators who understand these differences has been a gift in itself. So has this website and these posts. Thank you for the support! Any suggestions are welcomed!

    • Athena, so many of us chalk up our gifted child’s earliest signs of giftedness to other things–I did that too. Sounds like you have found good support groups and programs for both you and your son. The only suggestion would be to keep reading all that you can about giftedness and read about others’ experiences just so you can be prepared for those inevitable ups and downs!

      Thanks, Athena!

  15. Pingback: Article: “My child is gifted and I can’t talk about him—” By Celi Trépanier

  16. Celi,

    I am generally not one to ask for favors, but you have created such a supportive community here that I can’t resist. In Kansas City, there is a competition called Battle of the Brains. This year there were 520 projects entered, and my sons fourth grade gifted class has made the top ten. At this point it is down to a contest of votes, which make up 30% of the final rankings. If their project wins, it will come to life as an exhibit at Kansas City’s Science City. Even better than that is our gifted program would receive a large amount of money as a prize. If anyone is able/willing to support our gifted program, the link to vote is: http://www.botbkc.com/vote/

    Our entry is Cordill Mason Elementarys “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” One vote per email, per 24 hour period November 7-14th. The time required to vote is literally the time it takes to type your email address and click “vote”. Any support for this would be highly appreciated!!! Thank you in advance for any support given. Not only will it enhance the kids self esteem, but the opportunities provided by their program as well.

    Sincerely,
    Carrie

  17. I have a gifted child also. We also have the added difficulty of an Autism diagnosis. When my Son shows his intelligence, he isn’t congratulated for his achievements, Autism is. Autism gets the credit rather than the child.

    No one should have to be quiet about their intelligence in fear of hurting the feeling of others. Just like everyone else, their achievements should be celebrated.

    I also have a little one with developmental delays. I sure as hell celebrate her achievements also, even though they come a lot later than other children. All of our children are amazing.

    • AGREED! These are our children and each and every one of them need positive feedback. “All of our children are amazing” <---Yes! Thanks, Damprye!

    • I just read this one! I posted it on the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page, too. I’ve seen this scenario so often where gifted programs really only cater to high-achievers–the grades matter most, not the giftedness. Thanks for sharing this!

  18. Thank you Celi for your encouraging words in all your posts! I feel somewhat like a stalker because I usually just read them and the comments but never contribute to the discussion. This subject, however, struck a chord with me. I am a gifted grandparent raising a gifted 2e grandson in a household of family members who don’t always “get” us. We have a close bond and understand each other’s quirks. Now that he is 8, he can see how alike we are and teases me; “thanks Nana for giving me your OCD” or whatever fits the situation at the time. When I was a child, I was tested but never told the results. Our gifted program was at a different school from my home school and my parents wouldn’t allow me to participate. I never knew what I was missing. Of course, all my teachers knew but couldn’t tell me. As a result, I would finish my work before the other students and my teachers would have me help the slower students. At first I enjoyed it, but eventually I saw that the kids were just using me to get better grades and weren’t learning and really weren’t my friends. I began dumbing down in an attempt to fit in socially. It never worked very well; I was still driven to get good grades but always turned my papers over so the grade wasn’t showing. In middle and high school, the classes were not called gifted or AP but they were leveled by ability. Finally, I didn’t feel like a freak! There were others with my thirst for knowledge and intense curiosity. However, in the “real world,” I still acted dumbed down.

    Fast forward to our current situation. My husband and I are raising our gifted grandson. I knew he was different by three months. He started signing by four months, speaking two word phrases by seven months, and eventually what we called speaking in paragraphs by a little over a year. By then we knew he was gifted. His preschool teacher knew he was gifted but also saw his constant moving as ADHD. (We eventually put him on stimulant medication which has helped him immensely.) Her son was just like him. As time has gone on, we have discovered other “quirks” like OCD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and an eating disorder where he barely eats more than five foods. We have him in a one day per week gifted class at his school, occupational therapy, piano lessons (at which he excels with very little effort), and will be starting feeding therapy soon.

    The article addresses whether or not to talk about your gifted child’s giftedness and letting that child speak about their accomplishments. I never bring it up first, but people notice how different he is and ask if we’ve ever had him tested for giftedness. I have to admit that I usually admit he is gifted but there is more to it than being smart and making straight A’s. With all of the concurrent issues, I tell them that being gifted isn’t always a gift and it takes hard work and a lot of love and patience. Like Cindi mentioned earlier, we have a strong faith in Jesus and do not want to exhibit what we would consider the sin of pride. We have taught our GS to not brag about being gifted or making straight A’s but rather to be humble. He understands the concept of humility. If someone compliments him, he may thank them but not brag.

    The handling of the “gift” of giftedness is complicated. Yes, I am proud but do not want to appear overly so. Nor do I want to appear to have a false sense of humility by complaining about the 2e parts of it. It is a tricky balance. More than worrying about what others think, I want my GS to know how much he is loved – unconditionally!

    Sorry for the long post. It feels great knowing there are others who understand. I guess I just got carried away and unloaded. Thank you for your blog Celi. It is a great gathering place for advice and camaraderie.

    • Leigh,

      There are others who understand and I’m happy you got carried away and unloaded–you feel better and sharing your experience helps others so much! It’s a win-win!

      Talking about your gifted child is difficult almost no matter what the reason for the conversation. It always seems to be a delicate balancing act, and it is complicated because sometimes when we mention our child’s giftedness, it may be because we are at school advocating for him, not among a group of moms discussing our children’s achievements.

      Showing humility, bragging, advocating, downplaying, asking for help–sometimes it all seems to be inseparable.

      Thanks for “unloading” and sharing your valuable experience, Leigh!

    • Yes, we all need to show humility, but it just seems that giftedness brings with it an entire new set of rules, you know? Talking about normal, everyday stuff is okay, but talking about our gifted child’s normal, everyday stuff is not okay. Personally, I have one gifted child who hates being gifted because he just wants to blend in and be normal, but when he has a normal, everyday conversation with others about something that interests him and this shows his level of knowledge, then he is judged as a know-it-all. Would I be teaching him humility or how to dumb down and pretend he doesn’t know as much as he does?

      It is quite complicated and makes not being gifted look like the better deal sometimes.

      Thanks, Wayne, for sharing your thoughts on this!

      • I don’t see the different rules. If I have an athletic kid, I would not tell a friend of mine that had a child with physical limitation what an amazing job my child did on the soccer field. However if asked I would factually describe his playing without being over joyed.

        I don’t instruct my children that have been tested gifted to answer incorrectly but I have taught them that they do not always have to answer even if they are first that knows it. I think it is better to be the wise person that doesn’t speak that much than the vocal person that must answer.

        Lastly — I don’t describe to victimization. I never think that “oh woe is me because ….” Right now, my kids are further academically than others. Maybe that will stay that way and maybe it won’t. But I definitely do not volunteer any achievements my children have done sports or academically. I answer questions and I try to ask more. And for me it is about effort not achievement.

  19. At first, I was clueless thta my son was gifted since he was my eldest. I was just happy to share about his milestones.

    Eventually, I learned that he is gifted. I continued to celebrate his milestones and share about them to friends. I know that some people do not like hearing/reading what I share about my child’s milestones. I simply don’t care. 😉 I’m not doing this for them. I’m celebrating my child and his achievements! I hope more people would learn to rejoice with other people’s blessings or victories.

    • Teresa, you are absolutely right to celebrate your child freely–I admire you for that. And we should all be caring enough to rejoice with each other when we do share our child’s accomplishments–it does take a village. I wish it were that way, but there seems to be so much competition among parents and kids, and “gifted” certainly seems to rock the boat.

      Keep talking about your child! We all need to take a lesson from you!

      Thanks, Teresa!

  20. Good article. I have a gifted two year old and I’m happy to state what he can and can’t do quite clearly. He was walking at 10 months. He had the speech and grammar of a 5 year old. He can count and amazes me every day etc. I don’t really care what people think. I’m not out to upset them or please them. It’s not My job to filter what they think or watch what I say. I am honest and true. I’m not sure why you would ever tone down your child achievements. I’m proud and happy to ‘brag’ about it.

    • Hi Michelle,

      So true! We should not have to tone down our child’s achievements and we should feel free to talk about our child’s milestones, but sometimes there are negative consequences especially in school. Personally, I’ve encountered teachers and other adults who outwardly displayed negative attitudes towards my gifted child the moment I tried to explain that the struggles he was having could be linked back to his giftedness. I hope you never run into this, but it seems to be a more common issue when our gifted children become school age.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Michelle, and I so admire you for standing your ground and being honest and true! <3

  21. Beautiful post. I wonder why we even need to bring up that being “gifted” is not “all good.” Sure isn’t…..at least not all those big feelings and observations of not being like peers. In my dream world, though, those big feelings and uniqueness would be celebrated (too). We don’t need to be hurting or mediocre to fit in.

    • Karla, these words are so true: “We don’t need to be hurting or mediocre to fit in.” That needs to be printed on t-shirts or on posters, for sure. Nobody needs to be anything but themselves to fit in!

      Thank you for your comment, Karla. In very few words, you said very powerful ideas!

  22. Oh, man, do I relate! Thanks for this! Sometimes I NEED to talk about my kid b/c I need help! LOL! I worry about meeting his peculiar needs. But my friends think I’m just saying how awesome he is. His problems may be different problems, but they are REAL problems. Sigh… Forgive me for bringing up a touchy subject, but I am a religious person, so since there is a religious injunction in my faith against pride (and bragging), when people think I am bragging about my child, they not only don’t like it, they judge my character as being flawed. I have searched high and low for a group I could just be real with… I haven’t found one. sigh…

    • I’m so sorry, Cindy, that you haven’t found a group for support. It is so helpful to have one–I sincerely hope you can find one, even if it is online.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Cindy!

  23. I never talk about my child’s giftedness or acedemic achievement, unless asked by someone who truly cares about her. Like Vicki, I have to temper it with something less wonderful. (especially with family!)

    I have found though, if someone truly cares about my daughter (or about me) they understand. A couple of caring souls have responded with “I knew something was special/different about her.”

    I have learned that if they don’t care about us, not only will they not understand, but I cannot care what they think.

    • Juliana, I like how you distinguish those who care about your daughter as those who will also understand. Sometimes as parents of gifted children we look to other parents of gifted kids for support, but even a friend or family member who cares can also be supportive of the struggles of raising a gifted child.

      Thanks, Juliana!

  24. I really wish we had a different word than “gifted.” Those of us with children who have been identified as “gifted” and have been to many talks and seminars on the topic, know what the label means and all the attributes that can go along with it. I believe the word can sound elitist to the outside observer. As if my child was given something that your child wasn’t given. It is one of the reasons that I hesitate to use the word at all, but wish I had an alternative.

    • Oh, Cari, don’t we all wish for an alternative word! Whoever first “coined” that label–well, I wish they would have chosen more carefully. 🙂

  25. I needed to read this. Too often I don’t talk about my son, or do as you said and “balance” it with something bad. I downplay his accomplishments as “expected from him”. Even my family tends to roll their eyes or ignore me when I mention how smart he is. But if I say how well my daughter is a gymnastics, that is met with much more enthusiasm. He deserves better, and I need to grow a backbone and brag until the cows come home.

    • Vicki–Good For You!!! It took me a long time to realize this and downplaying is still second-nature to me, but I’m working on it!

      Thanks for sharing your experience and inspiring words!

  26. I can fully relate. I have a 4th grade reading on a 6th grade reading level and doing 7th grade level math. He literally taught himself to add at 4 and could add long strings of numbers in his head at 5. As soon as he understood what addition was, he automatically understood that subtraction would undo it so he could do subtraction in his head at about the same time. He walked early,he talked early (and well). His IQ has been tested and is around 130 (higher, actually, for quantitative skills). BUT he also has ADHD. Things aren’t always good. I have caught myself doing exactly what you described and trying to tone down the good by bringing up his ADHD, hoping it would sound less like bragging. Then, I realized what that must sound like to my son. Did it sound like I was apologizing for his giftedness? Was I sending a message to him that there is something wrong with him because of this difference? So I stopped. I try to teach him to be humble in all things, not just about this. I try to teach him what bragging actually is and how it can make others feel. But I don’t want him to ever get the message from me that there is something wrong with him. I won’t apologize and I no longer try to tone it down. I keep the big discussions of his abilities limited to certain family members (but not the whole family) and other parents of gifted kids, but when someone comments about how smart he is or how good he is at math, I just smile and say thank you.

    • Stacie,

      I so much admire you for your resolve to not tone down your son’s abilities! You are right, how does this all sound to our kids? It is frustrating, though, that talking about our child’s “normal” is bragging and others talking about their child’s “normal” is okay. I wish I would have had the sense when mine were younger to just say “Thank you” when people said to me, “he’s so smart!”

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts and experiences here. Your resolve to speak up for your son gives us all courage to do the same, and we all need that courage to be advocates for all gifted children!

      Thanks, Stacie!

    • I once heard someone say that “humility is simply the ability to be known for who you are. Your weaknesses AND your strengths.” That helps me a lot when I talk about my daughter 🙂

  27. To piggyback a bit on John’s comments, I feel this is such a double standard: While some see it as “bragging” when parents talk about the academic achievements of their gifted (or ANY!) child, it is totally acceptable and encouraged to talk about children’s athletic accomplishments. It seems unfair for parents to feel uncomfortable mentioning that their child skipped a grade, but the audience would oooh and aaah if the parents talked about their kid’s winning touchdown or goal. Very strange priorities, and very anti-academic, I think. Thanks, Celi, for your article.

    • Hi Kelly!

      Yes, I hate to say it, or maybe I really don’t, but it is a double-standard. Many have said it is part of America’s anti-intellectualism capped off with our extreme sports worship. And when you have a gifted child whose only real talent is his intellect, it can be a most difficult situation.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Kelly!

      • Could not agree with this more. If a child is an incredible football player, they get scholarships, drafted, the whole town cheers, and his parents get to wear his NFL jersey around town, they hang it up in the local sports bars. I want a jersey that proudly proclaims “I’m Bella’s mom! She read at three and is doing algebra at six! I think she’s amazing!” Maybe I’ll make one 🙂

        • Melanie,

          We should be able to show our pride in our children. And maybe it isn’t pride as much as we are happy for them to be able to feel good about themselves.

          Send us a picture of that jersey! Thanks, Melanie!

        • Ivy league does not give athletic scholarships only academic ones. I roll my eyes whether someone is bragging about their son’s athletic ability just as much as the ones that brag about their academic ability. I am an equal opportunity eye-roller.

          I also conveniently have to go to the bathroom right after the eye roll. 🙂

  28. Celi,

    Fabulous advocacy! Such a great reminder that as parents, we need to stand up for who our children are and not feel we must apologize or balance out the equation with their flaws when we describe their strengths. I certainly have been guilty of that. It was always a relief to speak with other parents of gifted children, since we could discuss the reality of our children’s lives much more freely. But sharing information with parents who did not understand giftedness could be a minefield. Thanks again for your helpful writing.

  29. You are always welcome, Celi. Thanks for your constant encouragement of the parents of gifted children, gifted children themselves, and gifted adults.

      • I put my two boys (maybe 7 & 9) in line at the fast food place beside my bank in the mall, and went to deposit a check. When I soon got in line for my own food, two employees were speaking in amazed voices, “Did you see those two little geniuses? They were so smart it was SCARY!” What my kids had done was race each other and the cash register in totaling up their bill. Scary? Scary because they could do math in their heads? Really?
        So, when, how, do I tell my kids that being gifted actually scares some other people?
        I don’t remember what, if anything, I said or did that day, but that experience 50 years ago is still part of my calculations when interacting with other people.
        “Everybody is ignorant, just on different subjects,” is a Will Rogers quote I often used to remind my kids, and myself, that there are lots of ways people are different from each other, but more ways we are alike. I can’t think of anyone that isn’t “smarter” than me, or my kids in some area of life.
        I’m about 5 feet tall, and I returned to college in my 40s after a wreck had broken both my arms, and done other damage. If I met a bunch of big guys on a campus sidewalk, I would step aside and let them pass, especially if they seemed to be more involved in conversation than in watching where they were going. For that, I got soundly cussed one day because an approaching group assumed I did not want to get too near someone of their ethnicity.
        I also remind my kids, and myself, “You can’t read someone else’s mind unless they show it to you.” I am past retirement age now, and still working on figuring out people, even myself.

        • You know, Mary, I agree–I try to teach my children the same thing–we are all different and being gifted does not make any one better.

          And I agree with “You can’t read someone else’s mind unless they show it to you.” We all need to practice tolerance and not be quick to judge because you really don’t know what others are thinking as your college experience showed.

          Thank you, Mary, for leaving us your valuable insights! I love hearing about your family’s gifted journey and experiences. Your experiences help all of us! Many, many thanks! <3

        • FYI: It sounds like the way scary was used in describing these kids wasn’t an insult. It was a complement. It is more slang for amazing.

  30. It’s a culture thing, I’m sure of it. The shame and negativity thrust at a parent who unwisely “boasts” about their gifted child is most definitely NOT universal; though it’s understandable to think that way, given the relative geographical isolation of the USA and Canada; Mexico has a linguistic barrier, but many, mainly Northern Mexicans take their cue from their giant neighbour to the North. Southern Mexicans look more to Central and South America; this according to my wife, who is Mexican. Without the exposure to other nations and other cultures, as is the case in Europe and Asia, for example, we sometimes assume that things are universal to the human experience, when in fact they are culturally specific.
    American culture (and forgive me, Canadians, I’m going to temporarily subsume Canadian culture within American, given the similarities) is sports-obsessed. It’s also a culture that has relatively recent memory of the “settler” mentality. By contrast the people who settled Africa, Europe and Asia did so thousands upon thousands of years ago. (I do realize that Native Indian peoples, and therefore their cultures, got to North America first, but sadly, they haven’t had a huge impact on North American culture).
    A settler is seen as hardy, tough, salt-of-the-Earth, and often very religious. Hardly the type of culture to think very highly of people who “waste their time” dreaming and thinking, as gifted people are often accused of doing, instead of doing practical, down-to-Earth things.
    The obsession with athleticism has, I believe, the same source as does the North American near-worship of the very wealthy; it’s that “can-do” spirit which also underlies the settler mentality. It’s just in a slightly different form. So North Americans are more likely to regard with surprising degree of suspicion anyone who isn’t ‘hardy, tough, salt-of-the-Earth, and often very religious’.
    Gifted people have been accused of being dreamers, thinkers, people who don’t do anything “productive”, because North American culture has a lot more regard for the tradesperson than it does for the university professor, especially since so many professors seem to be so politically radical or at lest far more liberal than are most Americans (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/24/survey-finds-professors-already-liberal-have-moved-further-left; http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Political_beliefs_of_academics). Canadians are already more liberal than Americans, but their university intellectuals are also further to the left than the population at large, at par with their American colleagues. This gulf between regular Americans/Canadians vs. university intellectuals creates a sense of mistrust and antagonism; since so many university intellectuals come from the ranks of gifted people, I believe this mistrust of university intellectuals is, rightly or wrongly, also aimed at gifted people.
    If North Americans, and especially Americans, have a nose-to-the-grindstone, salt-of-the-Earth mentality, they value those who bring immediate value to their work. A tradesperson can point to a building, a bridge, or some other structure and say “I helped build that!”. That’s very tangible, and very real. An astronomer, by contrast (sorry, astronomers), peers through telescopes and, it is believed, drains away valuable tax dollars looking up at the sky at night. Who cares? Get a real job! At least medical researchers do something practical, like curing cancer. And Humanities professors? A total waste of space. Who CARES about medieval English Literature or the ancient scriptures in some far removed Sumerian temple somewhere in rural Turkey? (ISIS does, apparently enough to blow them up!).
    But that’s not true of all cultures. Take mine, for example. I am Jewish, and, at least for non-assimilated Jews (an assimilated Jew is a JINO — Jew in name only; aside from self-identification with ethnic Judaism, they do nothing to observe the Jewish holidays or rituals of Judaism), the reality could not be further different. Prior to the Holocaust (WWII), when there was a large and very active (and very inward-looking) group of Jewish communities across Europe, among very religious Jews the greatest thing a young man could become was a Rabbi, and the best husband for a Jewish girl was, you guessed it, a rabbinical student or an actual rabbi. It was (and still is) considered a mark of real “nacches” (the ‘cch’ is a throat-clearing-type sound), or vicarious achievement or vicarious status, to have a famous Rabbi in the family tree. Among the less strictly religious, the most highly valued and desired careers are in medicine, Law, a university professorship (often but far from always in the sciences); it’s a truism that every Jewish mother dreams her son (and now, thank goodness, daughter too) to be a doctor. There is a Jewish joke, the short version of which has a Jewish mother with two sons, who is attending the swearing-in of her son, the first Jewish PRESIDENT of the USA! She turns to her neighbour and whispers, proudly, “You know, my other son is a doctor.” Jackie Mason, a Rabbi-turned comedian once said in his stand-up comedy, “Every Jewish mother wants her son to be a doctor, a lawyer, or, if he’s a little mentally retarded [sic], an accountant”. That speaks to the reputation Jews have, over the years, of being “brainy”.
    When my father and his brother Jerry attended a school in Toronto that was literally 98% Jewish, who did the girls admire and want to have as their boyfriend; my uncle, the captain of the football team, or my Dad, class valedictorian? Well, my dad found himself the centre of female attention much more than did my uncle (though he did get his share of attention too).
    Intellectualism is very highly valued among Jews, as it is among Chinese, and other East Asian communities influenced by Confucian thinking (Confucius put a very high premium on teachers and learning in general, and that hasn’t changed since).
    If you look at the percentage of Nobel Prize-winners (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_Nobel_laureates), the percentages are a staggering 22%, or almost one in four Nobel Prizes being won by Jews, who constitute two tenths of one percent (0.02%) of the world’s population. Since Jews are 1 in every 500 people, they should win one in 500 Nobel Prizes, not one in four! Weirdly, according to this source, North Americans have one 370 Nobel prizes out of 1045. or about 35% — from just two countries (okay, so most are American, I grant). And isn’t that strange? A nation that prides itself on its can-do practicality is the #1 leader in Nobel Prizes. Americans love their athletes and their billionaires, but as I have mentioned in another comment, it’s STEM professionals (the vast majority of whom are likely gifted) that America needs.
    So the key thing is this: cultures can and do change. If more people like yourself, Celi, can educate people about giftedness and the myths and nonsense that surrounds giftedness, then I believe the bizarre stigma against “boasting” about having a gifted child can be lifted. After all, it’s a stigma nearly absent in places like Israel, and, I’d venture to say, also likely much less present in many East and South Asian (city-dwelling) countries and their people as well.
    It can change here, too.

  31. “Oh, yeah she’s doing algebra, but she can’t tie her shoes/”

    • HA! My six year old just started pre-algebra and has no idea how to tie her shoes or ride a bike 🙂 She’s realizing she’s different and when people in the grocery store ask her what grade she’s in she just stands there and blinks. She doesn’t know.

      • Yes! Lol. They can do all these higher thinking things and then they can’t do “simple” typical age appropriate things like tie their shoe or ride a bike… This. This is the frustrating part. It’s hard to refrain from “you’re so smart but you can’t tie a shoe or ride a bike, what gives…” Accept their blessing and move on. Lol. I’ll gladly tie a shoe for a little longer, wait to take the training wheels off understanding it’s normal for some gifted children to not develop in other areas while all their energy is focused on brain power…

  32. Celi, I can relate so much! I do, however, feel blessed and fortunate to have gifted kids, with all of their challenges and quirks. I am excited to see them grow and mature in a way that I didn’t expect, teach me things I don’t know, and give me hope that they are going to do great things in life, because they have so much potential. So, yes, I have to filter my words and tone down my excitement, but it’s no different than not bragging about having more money than your friends or pointing out that you are prettier than someone. It’s something people are born with, not a parental achievement to have gifted kids, so not talking about them to those “less fortunate” to me is simply a matter of grace and a sign of emotional intelligence. We can all “brag” to each other among other parents of gifted kids. That’s why Internet is so wonderful! Happy Halloween!

    • Thanks, Olga!

      I do believe we are all bound by the grace and social conscience to know when not to brag about ourselves or our kids, but when this social consideration interferes with advocating for your gifted child at school or simply showing your child you are proud of their efforts, it is a problem.

      Also, many parents of gifted children don’t look at their child’s giftedness as being more fortunate than others because these children also have emotional and social issues associated with their giftedness–giftedness is not all good. There are gifted children who have learning disabilities and mental health struggles, but because so many look on giftedness as being all good, even talking about the learning disabilities or the depression is unacceptable. The attitude is usually, “they are gifted, how bad can their life be?”

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Olga! I truly believe we all need to contribute to this global conversation so that we can parse through the myths, ideas, truths and facts about gifted children.

      Happy Halloween to you!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *