Gifted Women With Gifted Kids — Exhilarating or Exhausting?

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?


“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.




Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

67 responses to “Gifted Women With Gifted Kids — Exhilarating or Exhausting?”

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  1. Sherrie Cooper Avatar
    Sherrie Cooper

    It’s a breath of fresh air to know there are more of you about there. Thanks Paula for your article..even some years on it is still reaching people. I am a Gifted Mum with two Gifted Daughters and a wonderdul Gifted Husband. I will be following you more and I am relieved to have that feeling of belonging/understanding/appreciation/difficulties/empathy..ect! when I read your article “this is it”! We are all getting stronger in unity x

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad to have you here, Sherrie.

  2. Melissa Avatar

    This brought tears to my eyes. I am about to have my 7th child. with our first daughter, I fought all the fights as an advocate for her. That was exhausting. Now, I marvel at each of the children and their complexity. I try my best to understand their unique needs and challenges and support them at home to navigate a world where there are no easy fits or solutions. And, I choose feeding my soul and mind over folding laundry whenever I get the chance.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes to feeding your soul and mind, Melissa!

  3. Taupe79 Avatar

    While parenting a gifted child (try two) as a gifted mother is exhausting, I would not change it. Were I not gifted, I am not certain that I would be able to see the intricacies of each of my children while relating them to my own (and my husbands’) abilities and eccentricities. However, I think perhaps the magic of my children’s giftedness might be more apparent if I were non-gifted… sometimes it is a challenge to see beyond myself (it sounds selfish, but what I really mean is that I often overwhelm myself). I supposed there are gifts and challenges either way, and we each have our own parenting journey to undertake.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It seems that being easily overwhelmed is part of what makes this challenging and exhausting. But there’s also the magic! Thank you for sharing.

  4. AT Avatar

    Wow, this is so easy to relate to! Thanks! And thanks for the resources.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing.

  5. betsysproger Avatar

    I can so relate to this, having homeschooling our gifted 2e daughter from preschool through high school. The exhilaration, the exhaustion, the intensity of all the questions, all the time, in the earlier years! My daughter is now in college, and has found her tribe, so to speak. It is so wonderful watching her find her way there. I am glad to be on the GHF blogging team. Thanks for this great article. Betsy @ BJ’s Homeschool.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for your comment, Betsy. I’m so glad the hear that your daughter has found her tribe!

  6. Kathy Avatar

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yikes, Kathy, sounds like a lot of child raising and teaching! It also sounds like it’s very fulfilling. Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience.

  7. Angelia Pena Avatar
    Angelia Pena

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m glad to be checked out, Angelia!

  8. morningcoffee Avatar

    “match made in heaven? Is it Exhilarating? Exhausting? Terrifying?

    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:

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for the link and the lion feeding idea. I’m sure many parents will relate. Yes, yes, feed that lion!! Your cub will only benefit.

  9. Fireflies, Geoffrey Hill, & Power Tools – SLISing

    […] Gifted moms with gifted kids […]

  10.  Avatar

    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?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’d recommend you check out Caitlin Curley’s blog She has 3 kids and I think a couple are 2e. Her blog is full of ideas. You can check the other blogs I mention, too. And the blog hops. I think these moms might be better at addressing that topic than I would be. But I’ll think about it, too. My recommendation is that you be sure to find ways to take care of yourself!! Ways to take breaks. If you’re triggered a lot, it could be good to try therapy to examine what’s causing the triggering. Thanks so much for reading and for commenting.

      1.  Avatar

        Thanks for your reply. Yes, I think the breaks are key. Some weeks are harder than others to make that happen!

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Just happened to run across this article. I skimmed it and it might have some ideas that will help. . The website has many free articles in their resource library.

      1.  Avatar

        Thank you. Thankfully I am in tune with all that they write about.

  11. sensorysmartparent Avatar

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Great ideas, thank you. Yes, “replenish every day.”

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

    […] Great article by Paula Prober: “Gifted Women With Gifted Kids — Exhilarating or Exhausting?” […]

  13. Emily VR Avatar
    Emily VR

    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. 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I always appreciate hearing from you Emily. Thanks so much! The t-shirts are on the way.

  14. willskde Avatar

    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!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      This is beautiful. Great advice for parents. Thank you willskde!

  15. Demetria0457 Avatar

    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!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome Demetria0457. I’m glad you’ve found us!

  16. JoannAltamirano Avatar

    Hiya very nice site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds also? I am glad to find numerous useful info right here in the post, we’d like develop extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  17. Bernadette Avatar

    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..

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      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!

  18. Belinda Avatar

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Belinda. It’s so important to be who you are. Thanks for the reblog and comment.

  19. Ro Avatar

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m glad you listened to the song. I always cry when I hear it. Thanks for writing, Ro.

  20. Nikki @ Through a Stronger Lens Avatar
    Nikki @ Through a Stronger Lens

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      And thanks, Nikki, for letting me quote you. I hope it brings you some visitors!

  21. Kate Avatar

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m glad my post has helped, Kate. Thanks for commenting.

  22. Atlas Educational Avatar
    Atlas Educational

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

  23. melissa (@lovelylost78) Avatar
    melissa (@lovelylost78)

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

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m sure other moms will relate to the “mad house in my mind.” Thanks for the comment.

  24. Celi Trépanier Avatar
    Celi Trépanier

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hope you get visitors to your blog, Celi, and more buyers for your book as they read your words here.

  25. Paula Prober Avatar
    Paula Prober

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

  26. Karen L Avatar
    Karen L

    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!

  27. Kristi Avatar

    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.

  28. Sarah Avatar

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

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the reblog, Sarah.

  29. Cecilia Hyoun Avatar
    Cecilia Hyoun

    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 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…!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the resource suggestion, Cecilia, and the reminder about self care.

  30. skpicard Avatar

    Excellent post Paula. I love the song!

  31. leedarcy Avatar

    “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.

  32. KtCallista Avatar

    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.

  33. Natalie Avatar

    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)

  34. Karen Smith Avatar
    Karen Smith

    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.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      No “off switch” for your brain that I know of. Sorry!

    2. Lezlee Avatar

      I realize this is several years old, but I identify so strongly with your comment, I feel the need to reach out.
      Maybe it’s because me kids were so much this evening, and I’m so much that I have a hard time keeping up with me, and everything ended on a sour note. It’s just nice to hear a kindred soul call out.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Just 3 years old. Not too old! Welcome to your kindred souls, Lezlee.

  35. cruthirds777 Avatar

    Thank you for this.

    1. Karin Avatar

      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.

  36. helenjnoble Avatar

    Reblogged this on helenjnoble.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the reblog, Helen.

      1. helenjnoble Avatar

        You’re welcome, Paula.