Your Child Isn’t Special (Or Maybe They Are In Ways You Can’t Imagine)

Of course your kid is special and wonderful and unique…

But the title grabbed you didn’t it.

The entire time my kids were in school there were always THOSE parents, you know the ones, who would jump up at the parent meetings in the school cafeteria and proclaim how brilliant and advanced their child was. Oh goodness why wasn’t advanced Algebra available for the 5th graders. The reason was usually because the child wasn’t really ready for advanced Algebra but the delusional parents, with their Harvard dreams, and USC envy, were just plain old fashioned attention whores.

When the kids started high school the school principal would stand before a cafeteria of 600 parents and say, “Your child isn’t special. We are talking about ALL of the kids tonight, not just yours. If your comment does not concern ALL of the kids don’t stand up.”

Unfortunately we’ll all seen the kids who are so stressed out trying to please their parents with over the top academic acrobatics and scores that they end up sick, resentful, unsure about themselves, and unable to do anything as adults without leaning on their parents. Or they become resentful and bitter and feel unloved. Sometimes they even feel like they’ve never had a choice about anything. Some don’t even know how to make their own choices by the time they’re adults. Don’t be that kind of parent – please.

As former president George W. Bush so well said:

To those of you who received honours, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States.

I’m not saying to encourage your child to make C’s and to strive for slightly below average. All kids should be encouraged to do their best. But doing one’s best does not always mean straight A’s. It doesn’t mean always being the smartest kid in the class.

Intelligence and potential isn’t always judged by an I.Q. test, or most random meaningless tests. Potential isn’t always seen in grades.

Potential and intelligence is often seen in other ways. It is seen in character. It is seen in a strong sense of right and wrong. It is seen in creativity.


Potential is seen in natural leadership skills. It is seen in confidence. It is seen in the ability to have a poker face. Potential is seen in the child who stands up and befriends those who are shy, bullied, or kind of weird.

Potential isn’t always seen in the child who easily wins, but the child who tries again and again and again and never gives up. That is the child who will win as an adult.

Potential is seen in risk taking and not always going the easy way. Potential is seen in the kid who has an even temper. Potential is seen in the child who doesn’t panic.

Potential and intelligence can be measured by how a child sees the “big picture” or the world around them. A child who can see a big world can see a big future.

Potential and intelligence can be seen in the child who is curious. It can be seen in the child who draws, or sings, or creates just for fun. It can be seen in the child who asks questions. It can be seen in the child who looks at a map on the wall and imagines they are traveling across Asia with Marco Polo, or wondering who lives in all of those cities.

The kid who can take things apart and put them back together will end up owning his own auto body shop. The kid who like to work with her hands will become a jeweler. The kid who liked to make noise and smile a lot will be the front man in a band. You just never know.

My kid Garrett was always smart, funny, attractive, and everything was easy for him. He got into a great college, graduated, went to grad school, finished that in 18 months and now is doing great.

Clara was average to above average. She wasn’t in all of the AP classes. Yet, she got into a great college, had an amazing astounding GPA, and got into a top graduate school (2nd in the country in her field) that only lets in 5% of the applicants, if that (and I didn’t have to bribe anyone, fake documents, or go to prison.) Let me say that again… average or slightly above average if you go by standard tests and grades. If you go by character, hard work, imagination, and a big world view she is above and beyond average.

Most kids, if their real talents are let loose ARE ABOVE AND BEYOND AVERAGE.

I’ve seen so many kids get passed over because they are considered average, sometimes slightly above average, or even below average. Then when these kids become adults they end up being the successful ones.

Too often I’ve seen the kids who have always been the straight A smartest kids in the class, you know the ones the adults fawn all over, end up in college and it doesn’t end well. Suddenly they are no longer the smartest kid. They’re now a small fish. They see the “average” kids climbing ahead of them and doing great. That isn’t always the case but I’ve seen it. If a kid’s head is too big he won’t always be able to fit through the right doors.

Being smart is great. But being smart about being smart is even better.

All children have talents and possibilities. Childhood is not the time to put them in boxes and expect them to be who our egos want them to be. They will be who they will be. They will be who they are.

Don’t be the person who kills a dream for a young person. Don’t be the one who tells a child that something they love and good at doing is stupid. DON’T BE THAT PERSON.

It doesn’t matter what other people think. Talk to your kids. Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to them about their future. Find out what their interests are. Expose them to new and interesting things. Never call them stupid or slow.

The future can be bright for all children. Make sure the light they see is welcome.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman


  1. Nice post! In retrospect, I see that I absorbed some of the dreams my mother could not realize as a woman of “the Greatest Generation.” Also, she died young, when I was 25, so I never had a later chance to let her know, “this isn’t just working.”

    It took a while to gain some clarity on what ambitions were authentically mine and which were not. One key moment was visiting a friend who was doing exactly what I had aspired to, and discovering that he was just as miserable, if not more so, than when I had known him 10 years earlier. Oh well – I often reflect that “If I had known then what I know now,” at least half of what I had to say would have been incomprehensible to my peers!

    1. Thank you for sharing.

      Just a note: I am an artist. My husband is a car expert and an antiquities dealer. Our daughter is working on a double masters in public policy and urban planning. They take their own paths and that is ok. I’ve found that is one of the wonderful gifts of parenthood – you never know who you’re going to raise. Just love them and do your best and let them fly.

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