If you clicked this link hoping to get insight into all the ways to make your gifted child even more awesome or even to hear some parenting tips for those “unique” challenges…you clicked the wrong link.
First, I want you to understand my qualifications for writing this and to do that I need to tell you a little story:
Let me introduce you to two real people and where they were at various life stages:
- He is a good student.
- She is an excellent student in gifted programs, winning every award under the sun.
- He is now a poor student maintaining a GPA only high enough for athletic eligibility and not much else, his plans include moving from McDonalds to UPS and briefly attending community college before dropping out.
- She is a 4.0 Valedictorian graduating early and offered numerous scholarships to many schools, including the full ride she will take.
- He finally tires of menial jobs, joins the USAF and goes to a four year school along the way, surprising himself with the fact that as a more mature adult he is able to maintain a very high GPA and graduate with honors.
- She lands an internship her freshman year which leads to a job as the youngest paralegal in state history by sophmore year. When she determines it’s not her passion she changes colleges and majors and graduates a few years later with the highest honors wearing enough cords and sashes to look like a Christmas tree.
- After the Air Force, he goes on to write a book for a national publishing agency and become employed by one of the most prestigious organizations in the country.
- She goes on to become a Kindergarten teacher…before staying home with her kids and occasionally writing an unpaid blog for fun.
- He has none, the few thousand not covered by the USAF has long since been paid off
- She had no loans those first few years when she was pursuing a degree in something she wasn’t passionate about but transferring to the right school meant no eligibility for incoming freshman scholarships and the tiny transfer ones left most of her tuition unpaid. She will be paying on student loans for years to come.
Which one was the genius? Well she is…or… I am. I have a genius level iq and spent my entire life in gifted programs, told by every teacher and professor what a gifted mind I possess. My husband, the “he” in this story, I contend is actually as smart or smarter but aside from pointless academia there’s rarely a reason to take an iq test so I guess we’ll never know (he is far to humble and claims it not so).
We have two children of our own and I can assure you I don’t plan on commenting on their intelligence levels publically now, if ever. I don’t care if they have iqs off the charts because at the end of the day, intelligence is only one tool. Today “gifted” is thrown around, every parent believes their child to be abnormally intelligent and yet… they can’t all be. But so what if they aren’t? So what if they are? Does a child need to be labeled “gifted” to succeed? By society’s definition my husband is FAR more successful than I am or possibly ever will be. (By my own definition I am successful because I am happy but that’s another story.)
If your child is gifted…don’t make that their defining character trait. Don’t let them get by with murder because you think they are the future Bill Gates. Don’t ride them and pressure them because you want them to win a Nobel prize. Remember that their intelligence level IS a gift, it is part of them but is not them, were a head injury to take that from them tomorrow I can only assume you would still love them the same. If they are gifted that is great but it does not guarantee, or even strongly correlate, to success (check out the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell if you don’t believe me).
If your child is NOT gifted, at least by society’s scholastic standards (and there are so many other ways to be gifted and talented) then take heart, that IQ score, those test grades, honors, awards, even high school and college GPAs…well they tend to come out in the wash. Don’t let them phone it in and purposefully underachieve but don’t stress if they aren’t the “best” either. Success is not measured by those scores or grades. It is something far more complex, but guess what even by the most shallow and superficial of standards your child may still blow those others out of the water (my husband did, and is a good person to boot). I say again to you: success is not caused by or even strongly correlated to iq, if you don’t believe me either just read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)
I want to end by saying: Your children are listening. When you talk about them to others what are they hearing first (i.e. most important)? Are they hearing how smart they are? How successful they are going to be? Or are they hearing about their character? Who they are as people? Your well meaning praise of them may be putting undue pressure on them, your focus on the type of intelligence measured by a test may make them feel like less of a person, more of a number. Is that what you want them to hear?
See, looking every bit like the KIND of future success everyone expected from me…
I’m much happier with the kind of successful I became 😀