Ten Things I Want My Gifted Daughter to Know

She’s getting ready to turn 10. It’s a milestone and those don’t come around as often as when they’re little. No more first steps or first words to celebrate.

Now the milestones slip by almost unnoticed.

Like when I saw her not be annoyed by the little kid but she took the time to play with her. She  showed patience and took joy in having someone look up to her. My heart sang.

Like when she prioritized her homework and violin practice for the week without being reminded (harangued) I could see the responsible young woman she’s becoming. My heart swelled with pride.

10 Things I want my gifted daughter to know

Raising daughters isn’t easy. That said, raising my gifted daughter has been the greatest challenge and greatest joy of my life.

I Want You to Know

  1. Gifted is just a label. It defines you no more than your eye color does. In the grand scheme of life no one cares about it. It’s what you do and how you treat others that matters.
  2. That gifted label does mean you’ve got potential. Oodles of potential. It doesn’t guarantee anything. So dream BIG. All that potential means you’ve got the stuff to achieve just about anything you want. But only you can realize that potential. I can help you. But the work is hard and you’re the one that has to do it. Dream BIG – the hard work is worth it.
  3. Grades matter – and they don’t. Sorry, life is full of gray areas and ambiguities. Start getting used to it. Grades and test scores are a way of demonstrating what you know. To get where you want to be, wherever that is, you’ll have to show you have the right to be there. Keep the long game in mind and that may mean working for good grades. Or not.
  4. Age doesn’t matter. I know you don’t remember the meltdown you had at age 4 when you discovered that the Monopoly game was for ages 8 and up and that meant you had to stop playing. Such a literal little girl! Age didn’t matter then. It didn’t matter when you skipped a grade. It didn’t matter when you were the youngest in the robotics class. It won’t matter until you want to drive, vote, or have a drink. Until then, forget it.
  5. Friends are important. Make friends with people who fill you with energy and happiness. Spend time with people who challenge you and encourage you to be your best self. Don’t worry about popularity or who’s in the “in” crowd. Popularity doesn’t last, I promise it doesn’t. Good friends are forever.
  6. Be kind. You can always be kind. Even when you don’t want to be (it’s ok, we all feel that way sometimes) just take a deep breath and choose kindness. It’ll pay off in ways you’ll never begin to imagine and you’ll feel better about yourself and the world. Trust me.
  7. Being smart is cool. Seriously, it is so freaking awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you differently or try and make you believe it’s not. If they do, they’re the ones with the problem. Walk away and don’t look back. They’re not worth your time.
  8. Know what else is cool? Confidence. I see it on your face more and more often as you grow up. It makes you more beautiful than you can imagine. Confidence + smarts + kindness = an unbeatable combination. Work it.
  9. Whatever is troubling you probably happened to someone else before. It’s probably happened to me. Maybe your dad. Or your aunt or grandma. Don’t keep it inside, we can and want to help. All burdens become lighter when shared.
  10. You have no bigger supporter than me, except maybe your dad. I’ve fought for you your entire life and will continue to do so – but only when I really need to. That may mean convincing the school librarian that you can check out books beyond your age range (see #4 above) or it may mean that I fight you on screen time.The goal is to teach you how to stand up and advocate for yourself. I want you to find your own voice so you can unabashedly follow your dreams. Your BIG dreams.

The Most Important Thing

Doesn’t matter if you graduate from Harvard or flunk out of high school. I love you.

Doesn’t matter what your dress size is, what color your hair is or what you have pierced. I love you.

Doesn’t matter what you become or what you do. I love you.

To paraphrase the great Snape – Always.


What things do you want to share with your daughter – or son – as they enter the tween years?

Share in the comments or let us know on Facebook!

Should You Take a Child to a Funeral?

We recently had a death in the family. Like most families in this situation we had to decide if we should take our daughter to the funeral.

I attended my first funeral at age eight. My favorite babysitter, Jeff, died in a tragic car accident when he was still in high school. I didn’t understand all that was going on just that I was sad he wouldn’t be around to bake cookies with anymore. He was an awesome babysitter. Should you take a child to a funeral?

In the end, we decided yes, and our daughter joined us on a cross-country trip to the funeral.

Three Things to Consider Before Taking Your Child to a Funeral

  • How old is your child? Our daughter was the only child there under the age of 13 with the exception of one very cute baby. The cute baby’s two-year old brother was not in attendance and that was probably a good thing. There were enough tears and trying to control a toddler during a funeral would’ve just brought more tears. Toddlers rarely belong at funerals.
  • How mature is your child? Not all kids are created equal in the maturity department. Frankly, I think my nine-year old behaved more appropriately than the 13-year old but I may be biased. Seriously, take a hard look at whether or not your child, regardless of age, can maintain a respectful demeanor. Without the aid of electronics. If not, a funeral is not a place for them to be. That’s not a bad thing. Really, it’s ok.
  • Does your child want to go? Please, please don’t drag child to a funeral because you think she should be there. As bad as a cranky toddler might be a sullen tween can be just as off-putting.

My daughter wasn’t close to her step-grandmother and had only met her a few times. However, she adores her grandfather and wanted to be there to support him.

That was the clincher in deciding she should attend.

If you do decide to have your child attend, discuss with them what your expectations are.

They should know that they’ll see adults upset or crying. That is scary for kids. Let them know it’s ok and they don’t have to be frightened. It’s ok to cry and it’s also ok not to cry. Everyone grieves in their own way. There is no wrong way to mourn someone.

Attending the service did provide opportunities to talk about our particular family dynamics and history. We talked of the things we want to be remembered for and what we hope to accomplish in our lives. Discussions we may not have had otherwise.

We found the good in a sad situation.

Would you take your child to a funeral?

Parents of Gifted Children: The Silent Minority

That’s how I think many parents of gifted children think of themselves. The National Association of Gifted Children reports that the academically gifted make up approximately 6% of the K-12 students – so there just aren’t a lot of us.

Parents of Gifted Children: The Silent Minority

I found out pretty early – as most of you have as well – that most of my friends, family, and teachers I know  don’t really want to hear about the struggles I have with my gifted daughter who gets straight A’s. They don’t appreciate how hard it is to find appropriate reading material that’s when she’s reading and comprehending 8-10 years above her age.

Of course, while I’m trying to explain this to someone she running around talking “kitty-cat language”. Thank you asynchronous development.

When I attended our state’s gifted association’s state-wide conference this year I thought I’d finally get to meet all the other parents who were serious about getting things changed. I thought we’d talk about ways to improve our own kid’s experiences and pave the way for those to come.  Except the parents didn’t show up.

Granted, there were some dedicated parents there and it was definitely worth my time. The conference planners did try: there was an entire day dedicated to parents on a weekend day. The location was convenient to all in the state and it was kid friendly. I brought my daughter and there were several other kids there.

But, seriously, I’ve seen more parents in the freezing cold to attend a pee-wee soccer game. I made a decision a long time ago to try not to judge other parents (and really – I don’t) but it was disappointing.

Seeing the low attendance is what drove me over the edge to become more engaged. So I started reaching out to other families with uncommon children in the blogosphere, on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest because that’s where we hangout anyway. Or am I alone in wasting time doing research on social media?

I know you’re out there silently biting your tongue as educators, politicians, and other parents tell you to stop worrying about your kids – they’re going to be just fine. After all, they’re gifted!

Silent No More

I’m NOT an expert, my daughter is NOT the girl with the highest IQ, and I’m probably NOT the most fed up mom going through this. But, I am committed to becoming more engaged in the conversation. And if the conversation isn’t happening – I’m committed to starting one.

So, that means educating myself and others. It means attending conferences when possible. It means joining my state’s gifted association and/or the NAGC. It means writing letters to school board members and politicians who control the funding that make a difference in my child’s education. It means becoming a resource to overworked and usually under-appreciated teachers. It means advocating for all gifted kids. It means being engaged.

How do you advocate for gifted children?