Back at the end of January, Joyce Slaton, a work at home mom, wrote an article titled “I hate hearing about your gifted child.” I didn’t see this article until I came across a rebuttal from Jen Merrill, who is the mom of a twice exceptional child. Jen writes at Laughing at Chaos, which I read from time to time. Her post, “I DON’T brag about my gifted child,” was heated, filled with all the passion of the challenges that come from living with a child who is profoundly gifted yet has special needs – all wrapped up with its asynchronous development, emotional dysregulation and complete household chaos.Yep – I get that.
It all reminded me about an article I wrote sometime back for MySA on how to nuture giftedness in your children, and of the comment someone posted about how it sounded like I was bragging about my son. Which was certainly not my intention at all. There were just three sentences where I was trying to set up my qualifications for writing the article in the first place.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Joyce and Jen’s posts a lot these last couple of weeks. My initial reaction was to side with Jen. And then it hit me. That’s exactly what both moms wanted…people to side with them. Both articles were written to polarize. And at the end of the day, that is not the lesson I want to teach my children.
There is nothing wrong with academically gifted kids…nor with parents who get excited about their accomplishments. In fact, I would venture to say all kids are gifted in one way or another. The autistic child who says mom for the first time…the socially attuned child who can read personality and group dynamics…the artistic child…the quiet child who reads and understands literature…the ADHD child who one day grows up and discovers something nobody else ever thought of just because his mind works differently.
Why do we as parents have the need to judge so harshly? Is this what we want to pattern for our children: dissension and separation instead of acceptance and understanding?
Maybe a parent has a need to “brag” because she has a twice exceptional child who is so challenging at home that his intelligence is all she has to hold on to or she’ll crumble. Or maybe a mom has been made to feel so small and intimidated, talking about her child’s accomplishments is the only way to preserve what little self esteem she has left. Or maybe a child’s special needs are so daunting, mom has to share them again and again to try to uncork the frustration that’s growing inside.
Don’t we want to teach our children that we all have a place to belong? Don’t we want to foster grace? It starts with us and our attitudes towards each other.
How about we start talking about how we’re all connected and how we’re all gifted in one way or another? Why don’t we start a conversation about how, yes, some people can be a little tiresome and can even be annoying, but we still accept them and honor them for who they are – instead of lobbying insults at each other? How about we try to see people through a lens of respect? Imagine the different message our children would get from us…and how they would begin to see the world.
That’s my two cents. For what it’s worth.