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.