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
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.
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.
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