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Parents unsure how to handle 'gifted' child

DEAR AMY: My 7-year-old daughter just had a psychological/educational assessment and her results put her in the 99.6 percentile in cognitive ability. We had her tested because despite her being a very bright toddler, her teachers were labeling her as a poor reader. I thought maybe she was dyslexic. We were not expecting the results we got. She's reading at an eighth-grade level, even though her teachers have assessed her differently. We think maybe she was labeled early on at school. The psychologist thinks she learned to read by rote memory instead of phonics, hence the disconnect for a while in school. What do we do with this information? We don't want to make any hasty decisions and put her in a gifted program. We want her to be happy. We want her to accept herself and to remain humble.

Concerned Mom and Dad

DEAR CONCERNED: Your focus should not necessarily be on how to get your 7-year-old to remain "humble," but on how to encourage her to "own" her intellectual abilities with confidence and compassion. The world does not need another little girl who hides her bright light under the cloak of humility. Pretend she is a brilliant little girl, and take it from there.

Work with her teachers and the school to make sure any "labels" placed on her are removed or corrected. Ask for their advice about enrichment programs. Research the gifted program for consideration for next school year and look into possibly sending her to a magnet school later.

Hyperintelligence can present special challenges for the whole family. Don't feed her information about test scores and reading levels. Offer her a multitude of opportunities to play, explore, learn and grow outside of school.

Keep in mind that your child's life unspools one day at a time. She is the same child today that she was before these testing results came in. No matter what her reading level, you should continue to read aloud to one another until she leaves home for MIT.

Also do your homework by reading "Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential" by Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S. Lowenthal (2011, Jossey-Bass).


DEAR AMY: When do parents quit paying for their children? We live frugally and put all three of our children through expensive schools so they could graduate debt-free. My son is 33 and getting married for the first time. His fiancee was married before. They decided to get married at an expensive all-inclusive resort. Our son thinks we should pay for his rehearsal dinner for all 35 wedding guests. He says if we don't do this, it won't be fair to him. We paid for the rehearsal dinner for my eldest son 10 years ago. We gave my daughter $5,000 for her wedding. We both had well-paying jobs at the time. We also spent $18,000 for attorneys for our eldest son's divorce (he risked losing custody of his kids). We are both retired now and living off Social Security and savings. My son has a well-paying job and his fiancee is interviewing for jobs. When will this stop?

Strapped Parents

DEAR PARENTS: You have been very generous. The spending will stop once you decide your kids won't be able to manipulate you into giving them money. Will they be willing and available to finance your life once you are elderly and out of funds? I don't think so. It is your responsibility to take care of yourselves now.

It would be great if your oldest son would repay you at least some of the money you fronted for his divorce. His repayment could help finance his brother's rehearsal dinner. You might mention this to both sons as a possible solution.


DEAR AMY: I disagree with your answer to "Wedding Crasher," who wanted to drop into the church ceremony for a young couple she knew.

I've done this many times and I don't think it's a problem. I duck in and leave right after the service.

Not a Crasher

DEAR CRASHER: As I said in my answer, there are cultures and faith practices where this is more commonly done. I gathered that "Wedding Crasher" was not in either category, which is why I answered in the negative.

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