Your child is gifted

"My child is gifted." This phrase was repeated by a number of people at an informational meeting for parents of children entering a new school. If my memory is correct, the first question asked was: "My child is gifted. When will we know about her placement in classes?" 

Of course, not every child met the district standards for "gifted", so other parents had to think of an appropriate way to preface their questions. "My child already knows how to play an instrument," or "My child reads a lot," or some other statement to indicate, "My child is special," came at the beginning of many questions. 

After the meeting, I spoke with one of the parents who said, "Did you feel the anxiety in there? I felt like it was oozing out of us." 

All of this caused me to wonder why we, as parents, are so anxious to let everyone else know our child is special. Every time someone mentioned their child was "gifted" in some way, heads swiveled and eyes widened to size up the competition.   

Oddly enough, no one said, "My child has a great sense of humor. I can almost guarantee she'll be the class clown," or, "My child is very caring. In fact, sometimes his grades suffer because he is helping someone else." There was a part of me that wanted to say, “My child’s gift is creativity. He can take any test you give him and fold it into a pterodactyl.”    

You might be thinking, "I don't find that odd at all. Those things will not help them to get into the honors classes so they can get into a top college so they can get an important job." 

These gifts, though often overlooked when we talk about "gifted" children, are important for success in life. Interpersonal skills such as empathy and humor are as important to success in most careers as intellectual skills, and I doubt Google's CEO, Larry Page, often says, "I wish my people were less creative." 

In the movie "The Incredibles" Helen told her son, Dash, "Everyone's special." 

Dash muttered, "Which is another way of saying no one is." 

It is that mentality that keeps our heads swiveling like owls to check out the competition every time someone else says, "My child is gifted."  No one is special in exactly the same way. Everyone is gifted in a way that allows them to make a unique contribution to the world. One child's gifts do not diminish the gifts of another child.  

Every parent can rightly say, "My child is gifted." Rather than sizing up the competition, we need to help our children understand how they are gifted, and then help them understand how their gift can be used to contribute to those around them.  

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 6, Issue 16, Posted 9:45 AM, 08.05.2014