Talking with your partner about your gifted child
If you have a partner, talking together about your child’s abilities can make parenting easier. It can also help you to stay connected and make good decisions about your child.
There’ll be times when you need to talk and make decisions about your child. These times include when:
- you’re thinking about formal or informal identification of your child’s gifts and talents
- your child has just been identified as gifted and you’re deciding what to do next
- your gifted child is starting child care, preschool or school
- you’re considering how to support your child’s learning and development.
We have to take time sometimes to really understand and meet Marco’s needs, and we benefit from doing that together because we see things differently.
– Father of Marco (five years)
Your gifted child: issues to discuss with your partner
If you think your child might be gifted, you might need to start by talking about your child’s development and how it compares with other children his age. For example, ‘Aaron talks in full sentences and uses complex words. The other children his age at playgroup only use a few words’ or ‘Matthew has been invited to try out for the state athletics team’. This can help you and your partner work out what to do next.
Another issue to discuss is your child’s abilities. For example, ‘What do you think Mara is good at?’ You can compare the strengths you’ve noticed with strengths that carers or teachers have noticed or the results of formal or informal identification. This can help you work out what you can do to support your child’s learning and development.
New questions will probably come up as your child develops. For example, ‘Do we need to look at specialised cricket coaching for Charlie?’ or ‘Should Riley go to the same school as her sister?’ Or you or your partner or ex-partner might be unsure about the word ‘gifted’, and whether you’ll use it when you’re talking with and about your child.
You and your partner might disagree about your child’s abilities or there might be conflict about choosing a gifted program. Try to work together on solutions. If you can talk respectfully and listen to each other, you’re more likely to come up with options that meet your child’s needs.
If you’re separated and co-parenting, it’s a good idea to keep your ex-partner up to date on what’s happening with your child. If you don’t always get along with your partner or ex-partner, you might need to talk more formally about your child’s abilities.
Talking to family and friends about your child’s gifted abilities
Parents of gifted children often don’t talk to other people about their child’s abilities, because they worry about what other people might think about their child, them and their approach to parenting.
It might be harder for you and parents of children the same age to share experiences because of your child’s abilities and development. You might find that you get along better with parents of other gifted children because you can learn from each other.
Talking with your family about your child’s abilities might be easier and can be a really good idea. Family members often notice children’s gifts anyway, and they can help you keep up with your gifted child’s need for new experiences. For example, an aunt, uncle or grandparent might be able to take your child to activities and events. You might even find out about gifted family members who share interests and abilities with your child.
When you’ve got a gifted child, only certain people want to hear that your child has achieved something. I can ring my mum and say, ‘I can’t believe she just learned fractions in five minutes’.
– Mother of a gifted daughter (five years)
What to say to family and friends about your gifted child
When you’re talking to family and friends about your child’s abilities, you might share a little at a time and answer any questions people have. For example, ‘Ayu is competing in a national dance competition’, or ‘Dom does advanced maths with the Year 5 class on Wednesdays’.
You can choose how much information you share. For example, you might keep the results of an IQ test private but discuss your child’s school results.
You might talk about your child’s abilities when you’re choosing a school or when someone makes a comment – for example, ‘Yes, she’s very creative. I’m looking at schools that focus on the arts, so she can learn more’.
I don’t use the word gifted very often. I might say, ‘She’s really good at reading’, and leave it up to other people to work out how good she is at reading.
– Mother of a gifted child (five years)