Parents like to talk about their kids. Sometimes (when we are around friends without kids, for instance) we realize that we barely talk about anything else! And part of being a parent is being proud of your kid and wanting to share good news, and share concerns as well.
If you've got highly gifted offspring, though, this can be a problem.
I was thinking of this while reading the "Unwrapping the Gifted" blog over at EdWeek. Tamara Fisher describes a parent weekend in Montana, and the awkwardness of discussing your kid in mixed company, as it were:
"Parenting a gifted child is not usually the cakewalk others assume it to be," she writes. "These kids are intense, they crave (and seek out) challenge and mental stimulation, and their learning needs are typically not well-met by a regular classroom pace and content. These factors can lead to parenting struggles that a parent's friends just don't understand. It's not easy to say, 'My child is four grade levels ahead in his reading abilities and I'm worried he's not getting what he needs in the classroom' when the societal response to that worry is cynicism and sarcasm."
It is also very hard to talk in public about your kid's accomplishments. As the Davidsons and I wrote in Genius Denied, "Bragging about one's child is a birthright of being a parent -- when she took her first step, said her first word, learned how to read. But friendly bragging in the neighborhood and at work involves a quid pro quo. You talk about your kid for a bit, then I'll talk about mine. If you can't talk about the same thing, the bragging stops. Parents who are proud of an A on a test resent hearing about another kid who has just skipped three grades, published an academic paper, and still complains that the work is too easy."
As one parent told us about her daughter, "I feel like it is seen as inappropriate for me to say too much 'good' about her. I worry about this because I want her to hear me say good things about her, but it is so uncomfortable."
So here's the question: how do you talk about your gifted child? How do you participate in those friendly parenting conversations at work or at the park? Or do you just keep quiet and save most of the conversation for parenting gatherings where everyone is dealing with similar issues? I'd love to hear how Gifted Exchange readers handled these situations.