She challenged readers to consider why they might need to brag about their children. Fine. But then, she threw in the following comments:
"Why do we feel compelled to brag? Do we need to provide proof that we are better parents than others? Do we need to finally reveal that obnoxious little kid whose parents proclaimed as "gifted", and let his parents know our kid is better than his kid, after all?"
Why is neuroatypical learning ability fair game?
Yes - another random critique of gifted children. Labeling a gifted child "that obnoxious little kid" perpetuates a common stereotype and fuels stigma. Why is obnoxiousness considered synonymous with giftedness? Would we label any other child - one with athletic talent, or a learning disability, or ADHD - as obnoxious because of a specific trait? As a society, we strive to avoid stigma based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. Why is neuroatypical learning ability still fair game?
Perhaps the author was merely focusing on the parents. Yes, we all have met the proverbial pushy parents who brag and boast about their child. Typically, these are not the parents of gifted children, who usually exhibit exceptional restraint and have learned to quell their enthusiasm. They are more likely the anxious parents of overachievers or average students. And even then, these parents are not necessarily obnoxious braggarts - they may be truly excited for their child and want to share that enthusiasm.
I don't know why the author tossed in that comment about gifted children. Perhaps it was to get a laugh or create rapport with readers. Given the wording of her sentence, it is possible that she scrambled it together quickly, and it might have been written as an afterthought. My intention is not to attack this particular writer, whose article's overriding goal seems intended toward increasing sensitivity and awareness among parents. Her thoughtless comment about giftedness was most likely stated in ignorance rather than any outright attempt to be hurtful. The stereotyping of gifted children has become so routine, so accepted and so normative in our culture and the media, that many are completely unaware of the stinging ridicule in their commentary.
Criticizing, ridiculing, marginalizing, and snickering about gifted children needs to stop
Giftedness is not a choice. Gifted children have done nothing to deserve these false assumptions and stereotypes. Gifted children - and adults - come in all shapes, sizes and varieties, with a vast array of talents, abilities, struggles, and potentialities. Just like everyone else. And stereotypically pushy, boastful behavior is rarely the norm among parents of the gifted. They don't deserve ridicule either.
The next time you hear someone criticize, disparage or mock a gifted child, speak up. Gifted children are routinely misunderstood in schools, in their community, and certainly by how they are portrayed in the media. Often stereotypes about giftedness and gifted education are due to ignorance rather than malice. Let's work together to educate, clarify, advocate, and inform.
I agree, Gail. At the same time, I find the reference to 'overachievers' rather obnoxious. Is it even possible to overachieve? Gifted kids come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them even overachieve.ReplyDelete
Tania, Thank you for your point about overachievers. I guess I did not clarify what I was referring to - that parents who brag are more likely to be "anxious" individuals who are responding to their overachieving/high achieving and/or average performing children. Some parents focus excessively on accomplishments and contribute to this level of "overachievement," although certainly, many students overachieve on their own. Yes, many gifted kids are overachievers as well. But parents of gifted kids - whether their children are underachievers, overachievers, or just humming along at a great pace - rarely brag about their children.Delete
Great article. Most Americans are really hypocritical about this. We've all seen them, the family that posts constantly on facebook about their son's prowess on the football field, or the family who thinks their daughter is the most talented singer ever. No one gives it a second thought, but hop on facebook and start bragging about how bright your child is or about some award that your child or yourself received for academic ability and you'll immediately raise eyebrows. We teach gifted children from an early age that they must be humble about being smart, but we never tell the other children that they must be humble about their best traits and accomplishments. It's not fair and I think it ensures that many of the brightest and most capable children fall thru the cracks of our education system.ReplyDelete
Anonymous, Thank you for your comments. You raise a great point about the double standard in comfort level for parents who want to share their enthusiasm about their children. It is difficult to honestly express excitement about a gifted child's progress without appearing to be bragging. It is probably best to teach ALL children to be humble, but gifted children certainly get mixed messages.Delete
Yes! This is especially true in Sweden!Delete
Gifted is one of the most misunderstood terms. Gifted is potential not high achievement. There are many gifted children that underperform because they are misunderstood, unidentified, or underserved. While no one blinks an eye at offering children with learning disabilities special classes, gifted classes are considered elitist. Thus, many gifted students are forced to sit in classrooms relearning material they learned years ago. Many of these kids are also “intense,” and often get confused with ADHD when they misbehave. Alternatively, children dumb themselves down to be more like the other kids so they do not get bullied or ridiculed. Gifted children also have asynchronous development. An 8-year-old child might be able to do algebra and read at a 6th grade level, but throw a tantrum when asked to write a paragraph. It also is not uncommon for gifted children to have learning disabilities. These children also often are very sensitive and perfectionists. They are harder on themselves than any adults that call them “obnoxious little kids.” Parents of gifted kids cannot tell friends how hard it is to raise a gifted child, because it would be bragging.ReplyDelete
Anonymous, Thank you for your great summary of what gifted children and their parents experience!Delete