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Author Topic: Expecting a genius... Action plan?  (Read 25387 times)
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carpe vestri vita
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« on: September 28, 2009, 10:19:43 PM »

My husband and I are expecting our first baby. He and I both have IQs in the 1 in a million range, but neither of us has done anything worthwhile with our brains and have all the negative issues associated with genius. Given that intelligence is up to 70% inherited we expect that our little one is also going to be a genius.

I think we should nurture his (or her) genius, and if he ends up with a university degree at 12 that's no big deal. My husband thinks the opposite would be better, to do nothing that could even resemble acceleration so he remains with a similarly aged peer group. He's even gone so far as to suggest intentionally stunting our baby's intelligence to prevent the problems he and I have gone through.

We cannot come to a consensus on this particular issue. There seems to be no compromising, either we embark on child-led education from birth, or we avoid doing anything that may accelerate our child.

I learned to read at 20 months due, only, to my mother reading to me; by 3 years I had a concrete phonemic grasp of English; and by 5 had developed reading skills beyond my college educated mother. At that point forward, I was discouraged from coming across as better read than my peers. I went through what my husband is suggesting, and while I am the smarter and better adjusted of the two of us, I cannot help but think that my brains are not only a distinct disadvantage but most certainly a flaw; that intelligence is to be hidden from others like a gruesome scar from a near-fatal injury.

My husband on the other hand was pushed. He was his parents' first born and was constantly being compared to his peers. He never was expected to be HIS best, he was expected to be THE best. He was the first in his peer group to walk, the first to talk, the first to read, etc. He surpassed all expectations until he started getting in fights as a young teen and found new and creative ways to rebel. He discovered teachers had much lower acceptable standards and that virtually no work was required to meet those. He graduated with honors without having ever enjoyed, or actively pursued, learning. All he knew he learned by osmosis. Even now he picks up new skills or knowledge with no attention or passion towards the subject matter.

I have explained, repeatedly, that I do not intend on pushing our child to be THE best. I want him to be happy above smart, and at the very least not be ashamed of something most others consider a gift. I have no idea how to do that other than letting our child lead his own education.

This site seems like a fantastic resource for entertaining and embracing the genius of a child, and I suppose and equally useful resource for avoiding the development of genius in a child as well, if one were to do just the opposite of what is suggested. Either way, this seems like the appropriate group to ask about my problem.

If you were in my shoes, which avenue would you pursue? Or can you think of a middle ground that would appease us both?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Nikita
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2009, 12:16:38 AM »

I'm envious! No, do not try to stunt the intellectual growth of your child!!! You can homeschool your child to keep him protected from pressure to be dumber...and mingle with intellectuals like join Mensa and these sort of forums to meet people nearby who share the respect for intelligence. Making your child be less than what they could be is neglect, even if you think you're doing it for their own good. Your child may resent you later. I resent that my parents didnt send me to a French school when I wanted to go to one, and it cost the same and was close to the English school. I resent that my grade 5 teacher offered to teach me the piano for free, but my mother refused the offer. Think about that! I think of all the things I do with my kids now, and I resent my parents all the more for not doing anything...I doubt they even put a poster or mobile above my cot. And my older kids resent that I do so much with my littlies, as they didnt get those same opportunities. Because I wasnt aware of them then, and I only did as far as was able at the time. I am so much better informed, more financial and better resourced nowadays. But I'm not going to do less with my littlies so as to keep them all at the same intellectual level! I will do better each child I have!

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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 02:19:06 AM »

My parents did for me what your husband is advocating and although I am well adjusted I completely lost any passion for learning.  I was offered college admission at age 12 and was held back because my parents wanted me to have a normal high school experience.  Although I enjoyed the firends I made in highschool and the activities I participated in, what I learned was not how to be a life-long learner or even a great deal of material.  I learned how to please my teachers with minimal effort.  I graduated top of my highschool class, had a full scholarship to college and was even pre-accepted to medical school striaght out of high-school on the condition that I made appropriate grades in college.  Throughout college and even medical school I onlt did what I needed to in order to get the A, without passion, creativity or interest. It is only now years later that I am teaching my son, that I have begun to experience a spark of interest in learning.  For my son I do not care if he is a genius I just want him to be challenged and have his interest piqued. I want him to want to explore and learn on his own, and I hope that through early learning I am opening doors to him so he can be whatever he wants as an adult.  If he grows to become a happy adult, doing something he loves and with a desire to challenge himself I will have met all my goals.  

I think you should give your child opportunities to learn and explore without pushing him. So that he can develop a love of learning, but not necessarily feel pressured to reach any certain accomplishments.

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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2009, 06:22:42 PM »

Deliberately stunting your child's growth is one of the worst things you can do! If he comes out to be a genius, that is his gift. We as parents, have NO right interfering to stunt it. If your child has been gifted with the most beautiful face, would you scar him to make him uglier in hopes to avoid possible complications associated with extraordinary beauty?

What you can do, if I may humbly suggest, is focus on nurturing his emotional growth. If he has a good EQ, he will be happy even if he IS different. If you teach him how to master his feelings, all the difficulties he may have will just make him stronger. He will realize that there is so much more to learn than just academics.

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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2009, 04:42:03 PM »

What you can do, if I may humbly suggest, is focus on nurturing his emotional growth. If he has a good EQ, he will be happy even if he IS different. If you teach him how to master his feelings, all the difficulties he may have will just make him stronger. He will realize that there is so much more to learn than just academics.

That's also what I wanted to say. (Thanks, Nadia! smile )

Also, based on what you wrote, there are a couple of issues to distinguish between:

1. Parental pushing - I believe this has the potential to cause psychological problems, esp when the pushing is not complemented with an abundance of love and affection (and I mean the SHOWING of it) and the nurturing of emotional growth as mentioned above. As it seems you know, there is a huge difference between pushing a child to be the best (where the focus is on results) and encouraging him to be his best (where the focus is on the process, rather than the results).

2. Being more advanced than peers/being bored at school - This is a legitimate concern, but I do not believe the solution is to dumb down the kid so that he will fit in! I would find that very very sad indeed! The solution to it may vary depending on the location and what's available, but in any event, the key would be to continually keep the child challenged, even if it can be mainly outside the educational system. I would find it an advantage to not have to spend much time on homework and instead being able to devote that time to pursuing other interests that challenge me. I would certainly prefer that over finding school work difficult!

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« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2009, 10:30:06 PM »

Thanks for your replies everyone.

I personally despise Mensa. I can't speak for the membership everywhere, but here they are the snobbiest of people. Many of them are not successful in terms of what most people appreciate (good career or material possessions, happiness, etc.) but they feel they are still superior to everyone else. I've had Mensa members claim that I'm not as smart as they are because my IQ is X points lower than theirs. Which is incredibly ridiculous on a number of fronts, with normal human etiquette being the most glaring.

If Mensa were as awesome in practice as it is in idea, it would be a great help, unfortunately that's not the case (here at least).

There is not much available here in terms of people that appreciate intelligence without thinking life is an IQ test. There is a gifted program for children, however they routinely reject kids that do not have social issues because of their intelligence. I would prefer that our children never go to the gifted program just for the dysfunctional social atmosphere alone. There is a special school for hockey players. It includes the actual hockey skills, as well as academics to a lesser degree. The focus really is on churning out fantastic hockey players who merely have to avoid sounding stupid on camera. It's quite early in the morning, because of ice time availability, which means it ends very early as well and would leave time for homeschool supplementation to make up for the glaring lack of actual school work learned. Other than that we have one of the worst public school systems in the country.

I think a better comparison for intelligence is height rather than beauty. Intelligence is a lot like height in that there is an ideal range, and that there are early indicators that a child will be very tall or very smart. People respect others who are taller than them but not really tall. 6'6" is about as tall as a man can get before it's a hindrance (unless he's a basketball player and doesn't care to be anything else) and women it's about 6'2". Intelligence follows the same curve, intelligence garners more respect until a certain point around 3 deviances from the norm (about 1 in 750, with the absolute IQ value being slightly higher for men because of larger deviances)

On that note, if my 5 year old was 6 feet tall (a reasonable adult height, just as my husband and I were both of reasonable adult intelligences by that point) I hate to admit it, but I would stunt him. I would offer him things that might stunt the growth of children, like coffee. Just as if he were so small they projected his adult height to be less than 5'6" (if he is in fact a boy) that I would do whatever possible to make him taller.

So I really do understand where my husband is coming from. We all want our kids to fall into the ideal range. I just don't think I could do it. Offering a child something that may stunt his growth at least gives him the choice of accepting it or not. There is no feasible way to offer a child something that may stunt his mental growth. I don't think I could bring myself to inflict something on my child knowingly that I hated myself. But alternately I don't have to do anything that would help him become smarter either. I would hate to do it, but I could avoid reading to him before he's a certain age, knowing that it's going to take him a matter of months to pickup what it takes other years. But it seems wrong too!

That's why I think we should say  tongue to the world and let our kid be as smart as he can be. And to use all of the tools available to us to help him learn quickly while he's young, and still love learning once he's older.

I have read 6 books on emotional intelligence already, because I know my husband and I would be better off with more of that variety of smarts. I want my baby to be able to deal with other people even if he were of less than average intelligence or an unmeasurable genius.

Regardless of what we decide to do about education, we will respect his emotions and use all of the tools from the books. It's already helped our marriage significantly. I'm sure it will have a positive effect on our little one as well.

I guess I see learning as something that you do when you're bored, and my husband sees as something that is forced on you. I think that's the main problem. None of the things I've taught myself have any use in the real world, which just shows my opinion of both learning and the real world. My husband has nothing but useful real world knowledge and has no interest in learning something that has no immediate use. I speak French, for example, and I think we should teach the baby French, but we live in an entirely English-speaking part of the country. He would learn French, and encourage our child to learn French, IF we lived in a bilingual area or we were going to travel to a French speaking country in the near future. But only in the near future. If we had plans to visit France in 2 years, there's no point in learning French now.

Seeing as everyone here agrees with me (which is why I asked you  smile it's nice to stack the deck in your favour) how would you convince someone who only thinks people need to learn immediately useful things and for all accounts hates learning that either learning isn't actually painful (so it doesn't matter what the child learns) or that it's better to learn skills that might later be needed in advance rather than when they're first needed?

And I have to apologize for how long this has become! A couple follow-up comments ended up longer than the original post.

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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2009, 03:21:14 AM »

Pity you didnt cut it up into segments, you'd be half-way to earning a free Little Music.! As for convincing your hubby about languages, there's plenty written about how easy it is to learn languages in infancy and about how hard it is later on. And tell him your child may resent him later on. as I resent my parents for not placing me in a French school age nearly 6 where I grew up, and my mother, a German, refusing to speak to me in that language as she hated being German. So studying those languages in high school were an ordeal that non-native speakers experience learning languages in school. Yet I couldve blitzed those subjects. I couldve done those languages in Year 12 for extra points towards university entry., if I'd been allowed to learn these languages in early childhood.

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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2009, 04:30:50 PM »

Research in this area indicates that children with 150-205-IQ are generally well adjusted and are amongst the most popular children in their respective classes.

It is important to realise that intelligence involves so many factors that attempts to measure it are probably useless.  Richard Feynman had an IQ of only 124 and was one of the greatest Physicists of the 20th century. People can’t be judged by a mere number.
 
It is a dangerous assumption that your baby will be born with a greater potential to excel and environmental deprivation is likely to cause mental retardation. The belief that gifted children are lonely, odd, sickly nerds is not backed by evidence. Actually, most show above average physical health, mental health and social skills.

I think that the casual study of a second language is probably a waste of time for most adults who would benefit more by studying their own language-its grammar, forms and etymology. Exposing a baby to a second language is an entirely different matter.  In Europe, a great many toddlers learn four languages with little or no difficulty.

I think that children need to remain in similarly aged peer groups and that we should be guided by their interests.

Chris



« Last Edit: October 03, 2009, 05:25:55 PM by Chris1 » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2009, 04:45:23 PM »

Hi,
Referring to everything you've said, I know exactly what you mean. Wink




Re:
I have read 6 books on emotional intelligence already, because I know my husband and I would be better off with more of that variety of smarts. I want my baby to be able to deal with other people even if he were of less than average intelligence or an unmeasurable genius.

Regardless of what we decide to do about education, we will respect his emotions and use all of the tools from the books. It's already helped our marriage significantly. I'm sure it will have a positive effect on our little one as well.



I was just curious as to what books you've read and found helpful. This particular topic is of huge importance to me.


 
As far as your unborn child's education goes. Mothers know what is best
(and fathers too) when it comes to raising and teaching their children whether it's to teach at a specific moment or not. Mothers (and fathers) are intstinctively the very best at what they do!  


Best Regards,
Autumn

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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2009, 10:15:45 PM »

Research in this area indicates that children with 150-205-IQ are generally well adjusted and are amongst the most popular children in their respective classes.

[. . .]

I think that children need to remain in similarly aged peer groups and that we should be guided by their interests.

Chris



I'd be interested in seeing which research you've read that indicates that. A little over 5 years ago I did a research paper on the social skills of geniuses for my senior abnormal psych class in university. I don't have any of my research handy (it's probably in a box at my mother's house with my first finger painting) but this is what I remember of it. It is possible that there has been a study in the last five years that contradicts all the other studies. I'm quite curious how they ended up with such a different conclusion however.

Terman's "Termite" study, to date the longest and most involved study of genius children, has shown a huge discrepancy between people testing around 150 and those around 200 (on a ratio IQ test at 4 years old) in social skills as adults. An unexpected, at the time, result of the study is also those children from better socio-economic groups tended to fare better regardless of IQ score. The least adjusted "rich" kids were on par with the most adjusted "poor" kids.

There have been some incidental studies since, mostly using anecdotal evidence from parents, teachers and the students themselves. These studies typically find children who do not know their IQ associate well with any other individual within 3 deviances of their score, whether the person in question is an adult, a same-aged child, or a different-aged child. There tends to be conflict and avoidance when the two individuals are more than 3 deviances apart. The lower IQ individual is typically the aggressor, and the higher IQ individual typically avoiding the other. This is true regardless of the ages of the individuals. Obviously one would expect that adults and older children would behave better than younger children, and it was quite surprising that they didn't.

The studies get weirder when people know the IQs of participants, however, they have no useful application unless we all start wearing our IQ written across our shirts.

And obviously my personal experience confirms the research, the further from the norm one deviates the harder it is to associate with the norm. And that "rich" kids seem to do better on that front for no readily discernible reason, but also that they tend to secretly harbour jealousy and even hatred for others. It doesn't show in their typical interactions, but they will admit it to anyone who asks once the person or people in question are no longer in earshot.


Why do you think children need to remain in a similarly-aged peer group rather than choosing a peer group based on similar interests? Anecdotally, based on the big geniuses of history (Da Vinci, Einstein, Mozart, Edison, etc.) who were isolated from children their ags during their formative years, and allowed to play with tools designed for adults as if they were toys, it would seem that we ought to isolate our kids from other kids. There's no peer pressure to dumb himself down, or to be interested in "normal" things, when there isn't a cohesive peer group who doesn't share the child's "abnormal" interests and abilities. My husband, and his whole family (the actual problem I think) seem to agree with you, but can't come up with any logical reason. The best they can come up with is the idea that children should learn socialization from other children. And, when confronted by the obvious problem with that (ie. one would never learn to drive from someone else who is at the same skill level, why is socialization different?) they freeze, look confused for a minute, and then withdrawal from the conversation. I'm hoping to hear more opinions on this matter because I do find it so confusing.

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Autumn
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2009, 10:36:26 PM »




Hi, just to clear things up I was addressing the Guest. wub


Referring to everything you've said, I know exactly what you mean. Wink




Best Regards,
Autumn


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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2009, 10:42:02 PM »


Hi Guest,




I have read 6 books on emotional intelligence already, because I know my husband and I would be better off with more of that variety of smarts. I want my baby to be able to deal with other people even if he were of less than average intelligence or an unmeasurable genius.

Regardless of what we decide to do about education, we will respect his emotions and use all of the tools from the books. It's already helped our marriage significantly. I'm sure it will have a positive effect on our little one as well.

 




And I'd really love the titles of any books you found helpful. Thanks in advance.
Autumn


« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 03:22:04 AM by KL » Logged
carpe vestri vita
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2009, 12:39:03 AM »

Hi,
Referring to everything you've said, I know exactly what you mean. Wink




Re:
I have read 6 books on emotional intelligence already, because I know my husband and I would be better off with more of that variety of smarts. I want my baby to be able to deal with other people even if he were of less than average intelligence or an unmeasurable genius.

Regardless of what we decide to do about education, we will respect his emotions and use all of the tools from the books. It's already helped our marriage significantly. I'm sure it will have a positive effect on our little one as well.



I was just curious as to what books you've read and found helpful. This particular topic is of huge importance to me.


 
As far as your unborn child's education goes. Mothers know what is best
(and fathers too) when it comes to raising and teaching their children whether it's to teach at a specific moment or not. Mothers (and fathers) are intstinctively the very best at what they do!  


Best Regards,
Autumn

Thanks Autumn! That's really kind of you to say.

The first book I read was actually 'Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) by Jamie Turndorf. It's about relationship dynamics in long term partnerships. My ex and I were having some serious issues and I thought it would help. It helped me plenty, he, however, decided that he wanted to date someone younger and stupider. But she was really pretty  rolleyes

It talks a lot about escalation of arguing/fighting between men and women, starting with husband withdrawal, and how to avoid these things and still get your point across.

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman was recommended to me by a friend. There is advice for parents of infants through teenagers. It has a test to determine your emotional personality, how it will affect your parenting, and what can be done to avoid those problems. There's a fair bit of Gottman's personal experience with his daughter. It's a great book on the theory.

How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish came up as a book I "may also enjoy" when I searched for Gottman's book on my library's website, so I thought there was no harm in trying. There is a surprising amount of overlap between this book and Gottman's book. They are all students of Dr. Haim G. Ginott. Faber and Mazlish's book is more practical for older children. It has cartoons in it that are really cute. It also covers how to repair emotional damage you may have already caused your children by not respecting their emotions. Most importantly it has assignments that spell out how to change your behaviour when interacting with your children. This would be really helpful for someone who has kids, rather than someone expecting one like myself.

I actually don't remember which of Dr Ginott's books I read. I borrowed it from the library and it wasn't memorable. I think having read two books by his students already made it seem like I'd read it all already.

My library has the 10th Anniversary Edition of Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ which has some very unfortunate printing issues. The lines end too close to the spine, so the previous borrowers of the book had bent the spine very far backwards and some pages had fallen out! Other than the obvious continuity issues it seemed like an adequate book on the topic. I read all the pages I had, and did get a little out of it, although I can't help but think it wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. This book has a reputation as the best, and maybe that's just because it was one of the first, but I think it fell very short of that.

To give Goleman credit I decided to try another of his books, Social Intelligence. It's not even an interesting read. I'm not sure what the original intent was, but it's a poorly written rambling on semi-scientific studies about the chemicals of social interaction.

At our ultrasound I was told there's an 80% chance we're having a boy so at my next library visit, I picked up 200 Ways to Raise a Boy's Emotional Intelligence by Will Glennon. It's not as much about emotional intelligence as the title implies. It's more like "200 ways to stop ruining your son" some of them are common (hopefully!) sense, some are logical if you thought about it, and the rest are covered by a variety of other parenting books.

I think any book is a good place to start, but once you've read one, you're going to find that it's a lot of repetition between books. Unfortunately EQ and emotional intelligence books are very popular, so I'm limited in my reading to what's available when I'm at the library. I'm hoping to find one that goes beyond emotional intelligence into implementable strategies for using that intelligence in social situations. If I find that book, I will be sure to share because I think we're all looking for that.

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« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2009, 02:54:44 AM »

Hi Guest,

You're welcome. Wink

Thank you for the list. Please do share with us, if you find it any better reads, especially on the social strategies!

Best Regards,
Autumn

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« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2009, 07:45:34 PM »

Hope that this is of interest-

"While these isolating and alienating situations may well exist, such conditions may not be typical. Janos's (1983) review of virtually all of the published empirical studies of the psychological and social adjustment of children of very high IQ argues that, rather than being buffetted by social inadequacies and failures, most highly intelligent children are quite satisfactorily adjusted and successful in relating to peers and adults. Janos (1984), who carefully paired Terman's 46 boys of IQ 170 and above with other male "Termites" of the same age but moderately high IQ, concluded that the social situation of the high-IQ boys were not markedly different from those of the comparison boys. The Terman records suggested that parents and others try hard to assure that social adjustment is not unduly compromised by intellectual development."

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10163.aspx

chris.



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