One of the most impressive and amazing things about humans are how many different ways we find to observe the world, consider what we see, express ourselves, share ideas, and solve problems. We're born this way; as parents, we get to see proof of this innate ability when we watch our curious children experiment with the world around them. Whether they go on to be bookish and studious or rebellious and creative, or any of the other of the myriad ways people express intelligence, there are certain things that smart kids just know; things we desperately need to value and nurture in them.
It's not easy to keep the brilliance we're all born with. In my own experience, growing up in a family that emphasized perfectionism and obedience — to say nothing of spending life in a society that says "smart" looks like everything I'm not, and believes girls and women should be looked at rather than listened to— meant just by being my curious, strong-willed self I was constantly risking punishment at home and social isolation amongst my peers. I'm grateful that I was able to hold onto my innate curiosity, drive, and sense of self, because I know I'm happier and better off for it. However, I wish it hadn't been such a struggle. If there had been more adults around me who recognized that it's good when kids ask inconvenient questions or stand up for themselves or even point out when adults are wrong, staying true to myself might have been a far less stressful, lonely experience.
I still had some unlearning and relearning to do; that's a fact of life for all of us. Still, I'm striving to raise kids who protect their authenticity and honor their own intuition, because that's how they'll stay on the path to becoming their happiest, most ethical, and most powerful selves. Smart kids intuitively know the following, and it's important that we help all kids cultivate this occasionally difficult knowledge.