Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Gifted Women With Gifted Kids — Exhilarating or Exhausting?

55 Comments

photo from Lars Plougmann, Flickr, CC

photo from Lars Plougmann, Flickr, CC

What happens when a gifted woman has a gifted child? Is it a match made in heaven? Is it Exhilarating? Exhausting? Terrifying?

Yes.

“As a mom of a gifted child, we walk a lonely, difficult and heartbreaking road on our unwavering quest to help our gifted children navigate through a world that does not understand them, within a society who often envies and resents them. Exhausted, we pray our gifted child will just come out on the other end with enough self-esteem to be able to live a happy, successful adult life.”  Celi Trepanier, Crushing Tall Poppies 

“I was a lonely and rejected gifted kid, and seeing the same thing happen to my kids is awful.” Mrs. Warde, Sceleratus Classical Academy

“We have a LOT of emotional OEs, and my youngest and I are like clones. She feeds off mine, I feed off hers, my 6 year old turns hers on in a different direction and my husband goes to hide in a closet until we are finished…” Nicole Linn, Through a Stronger Lens

Lonely, heartbreaking, emotional.

Chances are, if you have a rainforest mind, you also feel an enormous sense of responsibility for raising this child well. In fact, your multiple sensitivities, rage to learn and intellectual abilities can combine to produce a relentless drive to be the best mother possible. At all costs.

This does not always turn out well. Particularly the “at all costs” part. Especially if the cost is you.

Rainforest-minded moms have told me that the love they feel for their children is astonishing and extraordinary. At the same time, in the same instant, they can feel overwhelmed, bored, frustrated and angry. And, of course, guilty. You familiar with guilt? Guilt. For feeling overwhelmed, bored, frustrated and angry.

Now, I suspect that all moms might have these feelings. The difference, though, may be in the depth and breadth. You could call it The More-ness Syndrome. You. Your kid. More emotion. More questions. More everything.

Then there’s the Unending Curiosity Factor. Your child is likely ravenous when it comes to learning. You may have your own insatiable curiosity. The energy that it takes to support your child, though, may mean that your interests get pushed aside and your intellect gets malnourished.

You with a malnourished intellect? Well. It isn’t pretty.

And what about The Schooling Conundrum? If your child has been bullied at school or has been frustrated academically, then you might find yourself spending countless hours dealing with educators or homeschooling. Not only that. If your experiences as a child in school were similar, then, your reactions to your child’s pain might be hard to manage. You might be unaware that you’re being triggered by familiar situations from your past. If so, your intense reactivity may frighten you.

This is not to mention the very real possibility that your relationship with your own mother was challenging. If there was abuse of any sort or neglect or serious dysfunction, then, mothering your own child might be tricky. You might hear your own mother’s voice coming out of your mouth and be horrified. The good news is that, in my experience with clients, even those who’ve been severely abused have been able to parent differently. I believe that a resilience, maybe even a spiritual strength, in their rainforest-y selves allows them to access their tender deep compassion in spite of an inadequate role model.

So, what can you do? How do you find ways to manage and enjoy this exhilarating, exhausting and terrifying journey?

Thanks to the internet and social media there are a gazillion resources now available for moms. Enough to seriously overwhelm your sensitive soul, especially if you’re an introvert. But, I’ll narrow it down for you.

photo from Joshua Aguilar, Flickr, CC

photo from Joshua Aguilar, Flickr, CC

Along with the blogging moms I quoted at the beginning of this post, there are other mothers of gifted children writing and sharing ideas and resources. You can find them here and here. There are also a few small presses that specialize in publishing for parents of gifted children. Three that I recommend are here, here and here. A couple of moms I know recently published a book about the benefits of Minecraft. Could be beneficial for the geekish among you.

Finally, there’s this. A song for you. Especially for those of you who didn’t grow up with a loving mother. From Sinead O’Connor. This is to mother you.

_______________________________

My dear bloggEEs: Please tell us about your experiences mothering your rainforest-minded children. Let us know what resources you use for support. How do you take care of yourself? And fathers, you can chime in, too! We’d love to know what you’re thinking.

 

 

 

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Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

55 thoughts on “Gifted Women With Gifted Kids — Exhilarating or Exhausting?

    • Yes, thank you so much! There are only 6 states in the US that don’t even recognize “gifted” students, and I live in one of them (NY). It’s very lonely.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Rage to learn is my new most favorite phrase. Sums me and my children up so beautifully. I am like a perpetual motion machine, only I’m so damn exhausted! I want the off switch for my brain. Anyone know where one can be found? I’m teaching my children mindfulness and trying very hard to help them identify these things that I feel I only became aware of in my mid-adulthood (my 30s+) But meanwhile, some days (most days) I’m an utter failure because all that happened was the laundry got done and the dogs to the vet and some reading online and a walk and the breakfast dishes, maybe, and my hair is clean. That’s it. Why can’t I achieve more? Ugh. It’s impossible. I’m impossible! 😉 Thank you so much for writing this. So much truth here.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Defintly exashusting, add in a non gifted hubby and well chaos often exudes.
    Glad to see a resource, I wasn’t aware of! ( free spirit)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this! Absolutely everything is completely spot on. The only thing I could add is the stress from a demanding, but only intermittently creative job is not helping the exhaustion and intellectual malnourishment at all. I have a stack of “my hobbies” that are getting dusty and neglected waiting for the day when I have time to do what I want to do again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “You with a malnourished intellect? Well. It isn’t pretty.” This describes much of the inner turmoil of my parenting experience thus far. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent post Paula. I love the song!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Appreciate this blog, as a gifted mom to gifted kids, as a gifted wife married to a gifted husband. And the OEs, oh my! I have been practicing the Parenting by Connection tools from HandinHandParenting.org for years now, and I think that has helped me figure out how to bring the best of my intelligent thinking into my parenting and my marriage. The tool of listening partnerships for parents in particular has been key for me to carve out time to take care if myself and work on my own emotional triggers. I am living proof that good things and good changes happen when people take care of themselves before they try to take care of others…!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Modern Sarah and commented:
    Gifted teaching the gifted, or gifted parenting the gifted. A unique situation!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You nailed it.

    We homeschool, and I regularly place a higher priority on keeping myself sane/grounded (time alone / reading) over “teaching” my kids. A lot of what they do is choose from books and other resources I’ve found for them. Part of me wishes that I could teach them foreign languages, etc., but my husband always reminds me that they have their whole lives for learning, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, today was the best day for me to spend some hard-earned Facebook time! So happy I stopped to read this. I thought I was losing my mind, ok maybe I am, but parenting my highly asynchronous 2e kiddo, while I also manage my own 2e-ness and deal with my husband’s very different 2e’s…it’s crazy making. I want to try and keep my/out focus on using our smarts to help kiddo navigate his challenges and leverage his strengths…and survive it intact. Here’s to all of us walking this exotic path!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “navigate his challenges and leverage his strengths…and survive intact. ” Yes!

    Like

  11. Such a beautiful post, Paula! Just–all of it–is perfection. Gifted mothers raising gifted kids is certainly one tough parenting gig. Thanks for validating our struggles and our triumphs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Defiantly both! Throw in a child with special needs and its like a mad house in my mind. Constantly one extreme to the other…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As I read your title, I laughed and responded with the unanimous, “Yes!”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s so lovely to have someone understand. As a mother of 4 rainforest children it is truly devastating to watch a child struggle through school trying to ‘fit’. While trying to do the best to support them you never know whether the path you take helps or hinders, and sometimes you just have to hang on like hell for the ride and hope you’re all okay at the end. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I love the rich family life an conversations we have. I just wish it was easier I the ‘outside’ world for both me and my children.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful, Paula. “I believe that a resilience, maybe even a spiritual strength, in their rainforest-y selves allows them to access their tender deep compassion in spite of an inadequate role model.” <– This spoke directly to me. It's what I strive for every day. Thank you for your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for this post Paula. I am also enjoying checking out some new blogs you’ve recommended. The song was beautiful and made me cry (of course!). Feeling very blessed that my daughter is happy at her school now. At home my daughter is safe and understood; school was where issues arose in the past. I remember those times well.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on creation exploration discovery and commented:
    “Then there’s the Unending Curiosity Factor. Your child is likely ravenous when it comes to learning. You may have your own insatiable curiosity. The energy that it takes to support your child, though, may mean that your interests get pushed aside and your intellect gets malnourished.

    You with a malnourished intellect? Well. It isn’t pretty.”

    No. No it’s not.

    One of my reasons for blogging like this has been to recapture my own lost intellect, to remember that spark that keeps me alive.

    The cost of not being who I am… it is too high.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. My two gifted “kids” are all grown up and doing fine so I have the luxury of looking back. On many levels parenting is parenting but ours was a pretty complex household because my kids dad was also highly gifted and everyone’s creativity was off the charts. Here are some of the things we routinely dealt with. Teachers pushed our kids to excel in everything and given the kids’ tendency toward perfectionism they were headed for emotional armageddon by fourth grade. My antidote was to tell the kids and the teachers “There are only so many hours in a day and sometimes ‘C’ is passing. The tendency toward perfectionism also resulted in procrastination as well as working for hours or days on a project and then refusing to turn it in because it wasn’t “good enough”. It was hard for the kids, especially my son because of his intellectual ability. A friend’s son said about my son, ” I really like him but I have no clue what he’s talking about.” There was also a tendency in our extended family to think my son could do no wrong. When he was a teen he said to me, “Mom, do you have any idea what a burden it is to be the “perfect’ kid?” My daughter was more social and more inclined not to give a flying fig about what people thought of her so it was easier for her in many ways..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing, Bernadette. I’m glad to hear that your kids are doing well. I know of other gifted kids who felt the burden of being “so smart.” Sounds like a good topic for a blog post!

      Like

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  20. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely pleased I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi! I was a single mother of a very intelligent son who, in preschool asked such questions as, “Mom, How does the sun stay lit?”, and me being me, had to try to find him a real answer. It was very hectic being the only one responsible for keeping a roof over our heads, raising him WELL, which I put before everything, and even going back to college for myself. Stress, craziness, yelling about school, problems with friends, you name it, I had it all on my shoulders. But at the same time I am SO GRATEFUL to have been given that particular child. We understood each other like twins at times, and fit together like two puzzle pieces. All along, and to this day I feel honored to have been given that child to raise. One good trait of ours is that we are both very adaptable; while everyone swore “he needs a routine! he needs discipline!” as advice, those two things made everything worse. We had to be spontaneous at times, taking a day off from school to go to a museum or walk through some woods just for sanity’s sake (I eventually homeschooled him; most of our stress was school-related). We were buddies; he helped around the house, carried the grocery bags when he got older, told me “I love you” over the phone even when his teenage friends were around (and he was explaining where he was for the past 24hrs!), and at his wedding chose “Loves Me Like a Rock” by Paul Simon for our mother-son dance. If any parents are reading this out there, hang in there, FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS as to what is best for your child, make sure they know that you will always love them no matter what, and hug them every day. I know hugs don’t solve problems but they make things a lot softer when a kid knows you’re there for them, on their side, no matter what.

    And now to read more about my own adult issues as I start over now that my son is out of the house…. here goes….changing my life!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Paula, as always, I love your post. (You must have been to my house… can we buy some More-ness Syndrome t-shirts, please?!) Thank you for validating what parents feel, and for all of your wisdom on your blog! I can’t wait to read your book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Article: “Gifted Women With Gifted Kids — Exhilarating or Exhausting?” By Paula Prober

  24. Replenishing practices: walking in nature (or biking in nicer weather), using a vision board, taking Himalayan salt baths meditating, getting together with girlfriends (not so much for drinking wine but just for being together–and usually, hiking in nature), hugging my teen son and watching funny videos with him, family movies… I just try to replenish every day even if it’s a ten-minute break.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you for writing this. I have two gifted 2e kids who have such different needs. Their OEs and needs completely clash and it is utterly exhausting when each kid is triggered by the other – not to mention myself being triggered and just worn out by the high level of need. Unfortunately when the older one is triggered she attacks her younger brother. I know so many families with just one gifted kid – single child families. Can you write anything about families with two very different gifted children and how to manage it?

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: Fireflies, Geoffrey Hill, & Power Tools – SLISing

  27. “match made in heaven? Is it Exhilarating? Exhausting? Terrifying?
    Yes.”

    Me: Highly spacial, mathematical, logical, introverted, definitely sensory OE (I hate the term, but for ease of commiunication). My son (almost 4yrs): Exceptionally verbal, linguistic and emotional. Is there a stronger word than exhaustion? Gifted hubby with his own blend just to make things interesting.

    “You with a malnourished intellect? Well. It isn’t pretty.”

    I have been struggling with this a lot lately. I was just reading this article:
    http://talentdevelop.com/articlelive/articles/1123/1/The-Special-Challenges-of-Highly-Intelligent-and-Talented-Women-Who-Are-Moms/Page1.html

    and this quote really spoke to me:

    “One woman I worked with in private practice called this same drive to learn, her “lion.” She felt that “the desire to know, to do, to learn is like having a lion that needs feeding; if you don’t feed the lion it roars and makes itself known for sure!”

    I immediately found a lion picture and made myself a desktop background that says “You must feed the lion, for the lion is you.”

    Because of my upbringing I struggle to accept some of my more-ness or rage to learn/ achieve are a legitimate need rather than a nice extra. But when I don’t feed the lion I am a bear and that doesn’t make good mom to a lion cub.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Dude.. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read a lot of articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to check out you extremely often.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I found this stowed in with other Pintrest pins and finally read and enjoyed it. I’m third generation at this point, but happen to be homeschooling two gifted granddaughters, after raising my own 3 rainforest children. I’ve learned alot and finally, this time around, am thoroughly enjoying it. The comparison (above) to the lion is so spot-on. Thankfully, I’ve always chosen to “feed my lion” right along with my children – and grandchildren, and find that they retain what they’re able and often bring it up at other times to be enhanced. If I’m interested in something, everyone gets a dose. They’re good at tuning out what they aren’t interested in or aren’t ready for, but more times than not, I will hear them explaining to others or discussing between themselves subjects that we have looked into together. I love it, and never feel like I have to give things up in order to give to them. I grew up in a gifted, extended family and the atmosphere was always rich in new ideas. I guess that’s where it comes from.

    Liked by 1 person

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