Parental overshare essays can subdivided into various subgenres. One of those is the very successful parent of an academically-mediocre child. The essay may be about the parent coming to terms with the fact that Junior will not get into to a college William Deresiewicz has strong feelings about. The author inevitably becomes a better person, and parent, in the process, and should be congratulated.
Another subgenre is the child with a difficulty of some kind. Not a problem so severe as to prevent the child from ever having the capacity to read the article. (Those parents suffer enough, and should feel free to share as they see fit. As should parents of adult children who are merely responding to the children’s complaints about them.) But something that’s either medical or just highly personal, that taps into whichever cultural concerns, and where the parent-writer can tell him or herself that they’re really doing a service, as if awareness-raising somehow cancels out the potential destruction of their child’s reputation. While the parents who write such pieces surely do so in part out of concern for their children and others in the same situation – it’s not just professional aspiration and a desire to write what the market plainly demands – these pieces make it so that a child will grow up with his or her identity already being associated with some biographical detail he or she might have preferred not to share, or at least not to lead with.
Rachel Simmons merged these two subgenres into a personal essay about being an academic superstar with an underachieving child. Except that the underachieving has a medical component – her child, she explains, is developmentally delayed, if still quite young. It’s ambiguous from the article whether this is a condition that will long affect her kid, or whether the tragedy is that her daughter may turn out to be of average intelligence. But one almost has to guess it’s the latter, given how much of the piece is devoted to the author’s own brilliance: