Gifted Adults Parenting Gifted Kids: Ten Hints for Thriving

I’ve taken a lengthy hiatus (over a year!) from writing on this blog due to a couple of significant factors:

Well, here I am again. I’m still just as invested in the world of giftedness as ever, and have realized that keeping up with this blog is likely the best way to stay on track with my goals of exploration and community-building. I’ll continue to deliberate about privacy issues, and if I do go public, I will likely simply hide away my entries about my kids in order to resolve that dilemma.

I’ll start this revamp by sharing a presentation I’ve given twice over the past couple of years, called “What About Me? Gifted Parents, Parenting Gifted.” (I’m working on fleshing this out into a longer manuscript.) After briefly introducing myself and my three (anonymized) 2E kids, I share the following triple Venn diagram I’ve created to represent where my most salient interests currently lie (in the middle):

I quickly discuss what we know about parenting gifted kids, as well as the little we understand (even less!) about supporting gifted adults – and then, I dive into the intersection of both. The bulk of my presentation is taken up with a list of ten hints or tips that I hope will resonate with participants. Here – very briefly – they are.

Tip 1: Acknowledge your own giftedness in whatever way is comfortable. Acknowledgement is often the first step in any journey of self-awareness and growth. I reassure participants that there are numerous terms they can use to describe their own gifted selves, depending on their comfort level and preference; these include but are not limited to gifted adult, former (perhaps undiagnosed) gifted kid, lifelong learner,  2E adult, bright and quirky adult, multi-potentialite, rainforest-minded person… (I’m sure there are other terms that might be used, too – we need to stay creative and affirmative in our collective brainstorming!)

Tip 2: Recognize what you didn’t get as a gifted child (while remembering that your own kids may likely not need the same things). Next, I ask participants to reflect on this prompt: How did things go for you as a gifted kid? Did you experience trauma of any kind stemming from your giftedness? How might this be impacting the way you respond to your child and their giftedness? I show participants the following chart of social-emotional attributes and potential problems related to giftedness, reminding them that the “gifts” of neurodiversity very often come with associated challenges if insufficiently supported. 

Tip 3: Explore how you and your kids may be “differently gifted”. I remind participants that despite certain commonalities, gifted experiences are actually highly varied, and we shouldn’t assume our kids will struggle (or succeed) in the same ways we did. I ask them to reflect on what their own “gifted profile” is, as well as that of their child – clarifying that when I use the term “gifted profile” I’m referring to any twice-exceptionalities (Learning Disabilities, anxiety, ADHD, Autism, etc.); levels of giftedness (mildly, moderately, highly, profoundly); and overall personality elements (including different overexcitabilities and “five factor” personality traits).

Tip 4: Find a peer support group (or simply a like-minded friend or two). We – that is, gifted adults parenting gifted kids – need friends and conversation partners, too, just like our kids! This sounds almost too obvious to state, and yet many things change when we become parents, so reminders are useful. Joining a SENG Model Parent Group was life-altering (in a very good way!) for me, and I highly recommend this as a next step for participants if they haven’t already taken part in one.  

Tip 5: Don’t allow others to define who you “should” be as a parent. No matter how many books continue to be published (and they will never stop!), there really is no “one way” to be an effective parent for your gifted child. You know your own kid(s) best, and should be encouraged to pick and choose wisely from all the (healthy) ideas that are out there. I remind participants that taking care of their own gifted needs should be part of their overall parenting plan, too: for some gifted parents, this means continuing your career in some fashion; for others, it means putting a halt on their career and/or shifting gears. These are all challenging choices, deserving of affirmation and support. 

Tip 6: View parenting as an opportunity for ongoing learning. Gifted adults often look for new opportunities to learn and explore – so I remind participants that parenting is an ideal venue for a growth mindset! Doing deep dives into new topics can be overwhelming, but also a nerdy blast (I especially recommend Debbie Reber’s Tilt Parenting podcast). As (age) appropriate, I recommend to participants that they talk out loud with their kids about their parenting challenges, to openly model growth and learning. What choices are you facing? How do you problem solve? The more you can involve your kids in these discussions, the more committed they will be.

Tip 7: Enjoy your child’s intellect and humor.  I love this hint in particular, because in the midst of all the challenges, we forget to simply have fun with our kids. They often have amazing insights, and awesomely quirky (or at least wonderfully corny) word play to impart. In our household, we make it a nightly ritual to take turns sharing jokes, facts, and/or highs-and-lows from the day – a process which often turns into a free-for-all discussion of a random topic that leaves us all a little bit more informed and energized.

Tip 8: Make at least a little time for your personal passions. Try to let go of mantras like “I’m too old”, “I’m too busy”, and “I need to focus exclusively on my kids’ skills, not mine.” By engaging in your own passions to whatever extent you can (even 5 minutes a day), you are modeling lifelong learning and personal growth for your kids – and this is crucial.

Tip 9: Extend the same care to yourself as you do for your kids. You know that your gifted child needs compassion, support, and sensory attention. Are you extending that to yourself? Talking out loud about what you need to be comfortable and effective throughout the day can help to normalize this for your child, too. My kids know I need to stretch, lie down, look out the window, and be by myself periodically to get grounded – and they have their own lists of self-regulation hacks. 

Tip 10: Finally, don’t forget the little things. I added this last tip during my second go-around with the presentation, when I realized that getting too lost in the clouds of Big Ideas and Lofty Goals can be detrimental to daily happiness for gifted folks, both personally and as parents. We can (and should – if we want to!) stop to recognize the small wins and joys, which, taken together, ultimately comprise a life worth living (Linehan, 2020).

This last hint relates to the broader topic of spiritual well-being for gifted individuals. After a life spent recovering from spiritual/religious trauma (a topic for another blog post), I’m slowly coming back to my own sense of what’s comfortable and helpful in this sphere for my own life journey – and I’ll be sharing more about that in time.

Copyright © 2023 by Please feel free to share with attribution.  


Fonseca, C. (2016). Emotional intensity in gifted students: Helping kids cope with explosive feelings (2nd Edition). Prufrock Press Inc.

Linehan, M. M. (2020). Building a life worth living: A memoir. Random House Publishers.

Gifted Parents, Parenting Gifted: Self-Care

There continues to be quite a bit written about the need for self-care when parenting – for good reason.

Speaking from personal experience, I know how easy it is to focus the majority of your energy on keeping your kids healthy and thriving, which can easily edge into little-to-no time left for your own needs and wants.

To a certain extent, this makes sense. When my kids were infants and toddlers, for instance, their needs from me were (appropriately) all-consuming. I got as much help as I could from others, and tried to expand my childcare “village” to a reasonable  extent (actually a necessity, since I was keeping my career going at the same time) – but I still always needed to be ready and available for them, which meant cutting out nearly all “non-essentials”.

(Notice I said nearly all; I decided to keep my film review site going, for instance, as a sanity-saver.) 

Over the years, as my kids have grown older, the question for me has become: how and when can I start easing back into more of the activities I used to enjoy before having kids? To be clear, I wouldn’t choose to go back to that era for anything; I was someone who knew I wanted kids from an early age, and was waiting eagerly to meet the right person and get started on a family. But eventually there were things I started to miss about my pre-kids life, back when I had a ton more time and energy to focus on taking care of my own needs.

In this post, I’ll talk about what it’s like to be a gifted adult practicing self-care while parenting gifted kids. It’s part of a tagged series I’m starting entitled “Gifted Parents, Parenting Gifted” (yes, I love palindromes and all kinds of word play; and yes, I know this isn’t exactly a palindrome, but, close enough).

To define self-care, I’ll use a phrase from the Very Well Family article linked above:

Taking care of your spiritual, physical, psychological, and social needs will help you feel your best so you can be the best parent you can be.

So – I’ll define “self-care” as “spiritual, physical, psychological, and social needs”, which seems to cover a pretty broad range. Also, just to clarify: when I use the term gifted parent, I am referring to a gifted adult who happens to be parenting – not simply a “parent of a gifted kid” (though there’s obviously huge overlap).

As I noted in my introduction, there is a LOT out there on the internet about self-care, and plenty on self-care specifically geared towards parents (with even more emerging during the pandemic). But, what are the unique self-care considerations for gifted adults who are parenting?

Of course, much if not all of the existing self-care advice – i.e., meditating, spending time in nature, listening to music, etc. – are good ideas for everyone to consider as part of their self-care menu. But I would posit there are a few additional needs for gifted parents to keep in mind as well. Below are my initial thoughts on the topic, which I’ll continue to reflect on and refine over time.

  1. In Searching for Meaning (2015), Jim Webb notes our need as gifted adults to make meaning in and of the world, and leave a lasting impact. He specifically suggests the following strategies (described in greater detail in his book, which I recommend): creating your own life script, becoming involved in causes, using bibliotherapy and journaling, maintaining a sense of humor, touching and feeling connected, developing authentic relationships, compartmentalizing, letting go, living in the present moment, learning optimism and resiliency, focusing on the continuity of generations, mentoring and teaching, and “rippling”. Several of these strategies actually relate very directly to parenting – i.e., “developing authentic relationships” (with our kids), “living in the present moment” (an invaluable parenting strategy), and “focusing on the continuity of generations” (definitely doing that by parenting!). Naming and acknowledging these strategies as inherent to our parenting can help to alleviate some of the existential angst felt by gifted parents, who may otherwise tend to relentlessly question if they’re “doing enough”.
  2. In Bright Adults (2015), Ellen Fiedler describes the following “significant needs and issues throughout the lifespan” of gifted adults: acceptance; meaningful connections; living with intensity (either intellectual, sensory, imaginational, and/or emotional); access to resources; relevant challenges; and finding meaning. Fiedler’s list reminds us that even as adults, we continue to live with various intensities of our own (while also dealing with those of our kids), and need access to resources and relevant challenges. Obviously, parenting itself could be viewed as the ultimate “relevant challenge”, and I know of many gifted adults who address it in exactly that way – i.e., it’s not just exhausting work (though it is that, too!) but also a fun project to dive into and learn from. The many podcasts and blogs out there on parenting (including this one!) are a testament to how fulfilling it can be to reflect on our parenting journey, share ideas with others, and maintain a stance of lifelong learning.
  3. Gifted parents, like gifted kids, benefit from finding like-minded peers to engage with. Joining a SENG parent group (which I now co-facilitate) was when I first made this a ha connection for myself. I was suddenly able to relate to other parents in a way that had eluded me for years; I could talk openly about the unique challenges I was seeing in my own kids, while never feeling the need to “dumb down” my thoughts or ideas. And, I found a few good friends! If a support group isn’t available near you, there are a number of private Facebook groups related specifically to parenting gifted kids, and/or you can sign up to hear about parenting seminars hosted by organizations such as SENG, NAGC, IEA, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and local gifted organizations in your area.
  4. Allow yourself to join in with your gifted kids’ interests and hobbies. If you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument, speak a language, or take art classes, now is an ideal chance to be inspired – by your kid! For instance, when my son first started learning the violin, it was literally painful for me to sit there watching and listening during his lesson while not joining in myself; so, I invested in an adult-sized violin and went to town. I ended up not having the time or stamina to continue for very long (I do have a rambling rainforest mind, after all . . . ), but it was extremely satisfying to at least scratch that lifelong itch and experience what violin playing was all about.
  5. Finally, an idea specifically mentioned in the linked article above on self-care strategies is to join a book club, which I would argue may be especially important for gifted parents. I plan to write a separate post about this in more detail, but for now I will share that in recent months I’ve joined two different book clubs (both online for the moment) and found them to be an awesome supplement to my “self-care regime”.  They are very much for me – a great excuse to carve out time for enjoyable reading but/and they also help me talk openly with my kids about the joys of prioritizing books and getting together with other people to discuss them. Win-win all around.

I’m excited to begin this exploration of what it means for gifted parents to be mindful of their self-care needs while engaging in the most (in)valuable long-term “project” of their lives: raising their kids.

Copyright © 2021 by Please feel free to share with attribution.