I know I might step on some toes with this one and I (truly) apologize in advance. I’m really not trying to be divisive or mean. I hope you’ll be understanding.
I’m not sure when this trend began–somewhere in the eighties, I’m sure, alongside the self-esteem movement. Parents were suddenly thrust into a world of comparison and competition. Oh, well, my kid did this and my kid did that. Out of this movement grew the increased pressure for children to perform.
Labels were slapped around liberally. Excelling. Talented. Superior. And my least favorite…
I am tired of hearing about kids who are “gifted.” There, I said it. If your kids are gifted, please, don’t hate me. Let me explain…
God is not preoccupied with a child’s “giftedness” as the world defines it. He made them that way, yes. He can and often does use someone’s intelligence to bring glory to Himself. But being “gifted” is not His primary concern for our children and, thus, it shouldn’t be ours either.
Does that mean God doesn’t want our kids to do well in school? Of course not. Does that mean that He doesn’t care about the details of our kids’ lives, including how stimulated, challenged, and engaged they are with their world? Of course not.
God cares more than we can imagine about the things we as parents care about. He is, after all, a parent Himself. But what He really cares about is character.
He is less concerned about whether or not your kid read War and Peace in 2 days, is toying with the Pythagorean Theorum, or built the winning science fair volcano that spews actual lava (although that would be suh-weeeeet).
He does care, however, if your child sat next to the fat kid at the lunch table. He does care about whether or not your child stood up to the bully on the playground. He does care about whether your child is kind to other children, including their siblings.
And I get it. It’s easy to emphasize how smart we think our kids are–I fall into the trap myself sometimes. It is fulfilling to tout test scores, list accelerated classes, and brag about advanced reading or math programs. It feels good.
I also get that, in our culture, unfortunately, a person’s academic success (followed by their material success) is too often what we emphasize. People don’t ask, “Is you son kind?” or “Is your daughter full of integrity?” They ask “What math class is he in?” or “What college has he applied to?”
I personally deal with this temptation, as I live in Snottsdale Scottsdale, Arizona, a city notorious for being superficial and shallow. Moms here drive designer strollers to match their designer handbags. The playground is a hotbed of “comparison temptation,”–ranging from first steps to preschool admissions.
When I am tempted to brag about my kids’ brains (because I mean, come on, they are smarties) to makeup for my own insecurities, I try to remember that God isn’t concerned with that, so why should I be.
I congratulate my kids for the things they do well. I encourage them when they first learn to write their letters or discover a new math concept. But I don’t tell them that those things determine their worth. I don’t emphasize intelligence to the point that they think it matters most. Instead, I emphasize the things that God cares about–if they obey mommy and daddy, if they share their toys with others, if they are quick to listen and slow to anger.
I love my daughter’s character. I love her big heart and willingness to freely give. I love my son’s kindness and compassion. God does, too…and that’s worth bragging about.
Okay, so let’s hear it. Do you think the concept of gifted children is over-hyped or totally appropriate? Are you ever tempted to emphasize worldy traits over spiritual character? Come on “gifted” commenters, lay it on me!