The expression a gift and a curse may ring true to many who are exceptionally talented. It certainly comes to mind when you’re a proud parent who feels it’s unacceptable to share your gifted child’s accomplishments. While it’s common for parents to boast about a child’s success, somehow it seems intellectual giftedness isn’t a welcome subject. Many parents feel ashamed to share about their kids even when they are bursting with pride. They’re met with hostility, or warned by close relations to keep a lid on it so they don’t make enemies. I personally have experienced this. I know the topic of bringing up giftedness is a common and very legitimate concern. So here are some tips I’ve learned for how to talk about your gifted child.
Let it Happen Organically
The most important thing is not to just start boasting about your “wicked smaht” kid to anybody who will listen. I’d venture to say most people aren’t super interested in what makes your kid special, regardless of what their gifts are. While I personally believe it’s true that there is more of a stigma regarding intelligence, it’s never a good look for anybody to prattle on endlessly about their children. But, there is a time and a place for that and there are certainly appropriate occasions to divulge about how smart and accomplished your child is. What’s important is that the subject comes up naturally.
If you start a conversation and can’t wait to work on something about your child’s IQ it probably won’t get massaged into the dialogue with the finesse you hope it will. My problem is often that I am afraid to bring it up even when it’s appropriate because I worry how it might sound. I have to get over that, if for no other reason than to ensure my son doesn’t perceive that I think his gifts are shameful.
Be Restrained but Unapologetic
Another key for how to talk about your gifted child is your overall tone. It’s so important not to have an apologetic tone. So often we begin conversations with the assumption that we will be poorly received or met with animosity. We worry about the perception that we are putting other people’s kids down or making them feel inferior. This is something that would not occur to me in the slightest, except that it has been brought up to me multiple times by well-meaning people who want me not to “make waves” . This adds to the sense of shame when we want to share but worry how people will interpret what we say.
The best thing is not to go overboard, but also to feel free to state facts if the conversation calls for it. This sounds like a tightrope walk, but it’s really easy to do. If it feels like you should say something, but you catch yourself shutting down, don’t let that happen. Say what you intend to, but don’t belabor the point.
Know Your Audience
This is also super important. Some people, you really just don’t want to have this conversation with. Some people will require you to be more delicate and therefore, you may want to avoid the topic altogether. Primarily because it takes a lot of effort to edit yourself in order to accommodate others and it’s rarely worth it to put that much work into a conversation that isn’t completely necessary. If someone feels combative or defensive, or if you think you might “trigger” them, then there’s little point in pressing the issue.
Stick to Facts
As I alluded to earlier, facts are a saving grace when it comes to determining how to talk about your gifted child. Avoiding filler is a big part of effectively communicating their accomplishments. One big part of being gifted is potential. For the most part, that’s all giftedness is. Many gifted people convert that potential into achievement and many don’t. Therefore, the potential is a huge gray area and it tends to be the ammunition a lot of people use if they want to take you or your child down a few pegs. The problem is that parents often feel safer discussing the potential and less confident boasting about accomplishments. There are various possible reasons for this including intentionally muddying the waters. Be clear, confident, and concise when referring to the real-world results that come from your child’s massive potential.
There’s an element of reciprocity in any conversation. No matter who you are, it’s never good to talk only about you and by extension, your family. In general, people like you to show interest in them, so getting too far in the weeds talking about your gifted child is a good sign that you are dominating the conversation, or the person you are talking to really wants you to like them. The more questions you can ask the better and the more common ground you can establish the better. It’s always good advice to be an enthusiastic, curious and supportive listener. When the time comes for you to share more about what’s important to you (your brilliant child!) you will have built a sort of hedge to protect you from ill feelings. Read more about how to properly behave with a gifted child in this article. .