FAQs About Having a Gifted Child

In honor of finishing up the “My Story… ” series about my oldest child, A., I thought it woud be fun to do a quick run-down of the questions I get most often regarding having a child who has been identified as “severely gifted.”


“So, is he like a genius then?”


I hate this question.  I get it, and it’s not a mean question or anything, but it’s just hard to answer.  “Genius” has so much extra connotation with it, I believe.  Strictly clinically speaking?  Yes, he’s a genius, according to his IQ results.  But, really, there was a time when “moron” and “idiot” were clinical IQ definitions also.  So, clearly, we associate lots of other meanings with these words.  He is not a know-it-all.  He cannot solve any problem in the world you set before him.  He wasn’t born citing the Pythagorean theorem.  He has a high IQ.  We’ll just leave it at that.


“So… what IS his IQ?”


I really just don’t answer this question.  My husband and I have decided that specific numbers are not necessary for friends or acquaintances.  It doesn’t really change anything if his IQ is 150 vs 175, anyway.


“What does he want to be when he grows up?”


It varies.  Sometimes, he wants to be an astronomer.  Sometimes, he wants to help animals.  Sometimes?  He thinks he’ll drive a truck.  In preschool, he said he “wanted to be an uncle to G’s kids.”  He’s seven.  It changes.  He certainly hasn’t announced that he’s going to calculate a new way to interpret the time/space continuum or any such thing. ;)


“So what’ll you do?  Have him skip grades?  Is gonna be like Doogie Howser or something?”


That’s not the plan.  We both believe, strongly, in the value of being surrounded by a similar-age peer group.  Developmentally, it is beneficial to A. to be around kids his own age.  Academically, he’s going to require some supplementation and challenge throughout the years, but we believe that can be done while keeping him in with his intended class.


“Does he KNOW he’s so smart?”


Well… I think most smart kids (whether technically “gifted” or not) realize that they catch on to things faster than others might.  I don’t think A. has any idea, really, how uncommon some of his skills are.  It’s so much a part of who he is, like his blue eyes or freckles, that he doesn’t spend much time thinking about it.  People tell him, and I’m sure he notices that.  I’m happy to say, though, that he doesn’t ever talk about it.  I’ve never once heard him talk about being “smarter” or “faster” than other kids in his class.  He just does his thing.



Perhaps the funniest thing is that the vast majority of these questions seem to be fired at me during kids’ birthday parties.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because I was the one with the four-year-old who breezed through reading all his cards.  Maybe it was just their first chance to corner me about it.  I don’t know.  But I can tell you I’ve spent many a kindergarten party answering and dodging those queries! ;)


So tell me… anything you’d like to know about what it’s like to parent a gifted child?

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5 comments to FAQs About Having a Gifted Child

  • Becky

    I am so glad you shared his story. It gives me hope, not that my son will be severely gift (which is a funny phrase because “severe” has such a negative connotation), but hope that late talkers are not always doomed to negative labels and scary diagnoses and delayed learning. My son is not yet three but diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech. It is frustrating but there is hope…despite the scary tales that this delays math and reading and has severe consequences for his future.

    I have gained so much from your story because you’ve walked both the preemie walk and the late talker walk before I did. Thank you for your willingness to share.

    • I feel so fortunate to have been able to share both C. and A’s stories, Becky. There is ALWAYS hope, I believe. I think it’s also helpful to remember that, just because a child may not be talking, that doesn’t mean he isn’t learning. A’s speech was terribly delayed, but his little mind was working just fine that whole time. :)

  • Rebecca C

    Two things I just wanted to reinforce, as someone who was a “severely gifted” child.

    Be sure he doesn’t get bored when the class can’t keep up. I know everyone says this, but seriously, it is a BIG deal. Even honors classes can be slow and boring.

    The other thing is that you said he doesn’t know quite how smart he is. Do your very best to keep it that way. My parents did not, and I got cocky. Certainly, it will be clear to him that he is really smart compared to his peers, but hopefully he won’t know just how ahead of them he is. I started slacking off in classes, because I didn’t have to try. For that matter, instill some study skills while he is young! I never had to study until grad school, and it was hard to learn so late.

    Just my 2 cents. You are obviously doing a great job already. =)

    @Becky, my kid brother had a severe speech disorder when he was very little. He is in high school now, and just got a perfect score on the state standardized test. There is hope!

    • Thank you so much for sharing these two points, Rebecca– really good stuff to think about! So far, A. just seems very matter-of-fact about how he goes to math with older students. I don’t know that he’s made any connection to being “smart”. And you’re right… I’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible!

  • Katie

    I am so glad that you shared A’s story with us. I know many of us (myself included) do not have any experience with gifted children so his story was enlightening. I think it’s helpful to have a little bit of knowledge on all groups of people and by sharing A’s story you helped me with just that :)

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