On May 21, 2015, the Today Show aired an interview with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. The gifted community was rightly upset over the interview. I am among those who were upset by the interview, and by “upset” I mean disgusted and angry. Jen at Laughing at Chaos spoke for many of us in her response to the interview in her post That time The Today Show mocked gifted kids. Kudos to Jen for telling it like it is. She said what I wanted to say, but couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. I am now.
Stefanie and her supporters claim that she wasn’t making fun of parents of “actual” gifted children, but those parents who just “think” their kids are gifted. Okay. That’s fair. We have all encountered at least one parent who thinks that gifted kids are created solely by the advantages they manage to provide for their child. These are parents who coach their kids so that they pass tests to get into “right” preschool. We know there are parents who take the competition seriously. We even know that some of these parents like to tell people their kid is gifted.
The problem is that parents of “actual” gifted children don’t have a special mark on their foreheads to make it easier for others to know that their kids are “actual” gifted kids. The kind of mockery in that segment on the Today Show perpetuates the stereotype that all parents think their kid is gifted and that any parent who mentions the “g” word or talks about their child – even in terms of problems – is one of the parents who just “think” their kid is gifted.
This kind of stereotyping makes it harder for parents of “actual” gifted kids to advocate for their child at school or get any understanding for the issues and struggles that are unique to gifted parenting. Stefanie has a Facebook page with a very interesting discussion about that segment that illustrates what I mean perfectly. “Gifted Children” noted that the segment wasn’t funny and that led to nastier and nastier responses, including these:
- “SHE WASN’T MAKING FUN OF PARENTS WITH ACTUAL GIFTED CHILDREN. Clearly you are *not* gifted. She was remarking on the unbelievably common issue of the litany of parents who *think* THEIR precious is gifted.”
- “Gifted Children- It seems like your whole identity is gifted children. You’ve given up your name just to be ‘Gifted Children’. THAT is a real issue. I’m pretty sure the gifted children will all survive. Being more concise than Kristopher, I’m playing the world’s smallest violin for your ’cause’. I’m fairly certain there are worse off groups of people to fight so vehemently for. Take your own identity back. You’ve lost yourself. This has been like fighting for ‘Attractive People’ and their problems with being too pretty”
- “Jen, I mean, Gifted Children, [this guy thinks Jen is ‘Gifted Children’ on Facebook and posted a link to Jen’s blog about the segment] has a bully pulpit where, unlike here, no one dares to disagree with her hateful and repetitive rants. Thank you for showing us the light. I didn’t realize how horrible it’s been to have a 4-year old who can read on a 3rd grade level. Our life is a living hell!”
- Stefanie’s response to the above comment and blog: “Some people just live to be offended. They don’t need a reason. I can’t even read any more of this bullying garbage.”
- “Stefanie – because I can’t let this go because I’m so mad because I think she deliberately twisted your words to drive Web traffic to her blog, character assassination be dammed, i apologize for futilely trying to get her to take any responsibility for, well, being a c*nt for one to thing.”
Those comments illustrate exactly why this kind of mocking isn’t funny. They demonstrate why I believe that this kind of mocking feeds the animosity people already feel toward gifted kids and their parents. It’s why I say this kind of mocking, even though not directed at parents of “actual” gifted kids is harmful and hurtful.http://giftsforlearning.com/wp/mocking-parents-of-gifted-kids-isnt-funny/http://giftsforlearning.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/laughing-pointing-woman.jpghttp://giftsforlearning.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/laughing-pointing-woman-150x150.jpgFor ParentsRants and ResponsesSupport for Parents of Gifted Kids