Understanding Gifted Parenting

“How are you doing?”

My friend, an educational professional who has worked with gifted children for many years, had asked me intently as I wearily plopped down in my chair at the coffee shop in need of a friendly chat—more so, an understanding ear. I heard the sincerity in her voice and saw the empathy in her eyes as I abandoned my standard “I’m fine” response for the truthful, “It’s hard! I wish others could just understand how difficult it is to raise a gifted child. Mentally, I’m so exhausted. I just wish others knew this.”

Of course she understood completely what I was talking about—her long, successful career has been spent teaching and guiding gifted students and their families. And the truth is, I do wish—really, really wish—others could drop the gifted-children-are-smarter-so-they-have-it-made stereotype they hold of our children and simply try to understand that parenting a gifted child can be very challenging.


“The mountains will be higher, but the valleys will be lower.” 


I was told the above idiom by another friend who had retired after many years as a gifted education specialist; as well, she had a profoundly gifted adult son of her own. Is it only those who parent or teach gifted children who can understand the roller coaster we are on? Yes, I wish for just a little understanding for all of us parents of gifted children, but it seems that understanding may only come from those who have walked in our shoes on this crazy road we’re traveling.

Adjectives, aphorisms and analogies abound when it comes to describing life with a gifted child—a wild journey; a crazy road with many pot holes; a roller coaster ride with ups, downs, twists and turns; extreme highs, despairing lows, exhaustion and elation—and all describe the intense emotional tug of war parents of gifted children often experience when raising their gifted children.

The many adjectives we use to describe our daily lives as the parent of a gifted child are often polar opposites which conflict with each other, often in the same day, at the same moment. The analogies describe some sort of sanity-stealing life surging us up and then sucking us down, way down. Often. Daily. Hourly. It’s one tough gig!

Predictable, even-keel, typical–not adjectives one would often hear from a parent of a gifted child to describe what it is like to raise their neurodiverse offspring. I love my gifted kids, but sometimes I just want to get off this elevator—up and down. Up and down. Up and down.

As parents of gifted children, if we can’t expect understanding, could we at least hope to have less push back, animosity or ambivalence from those who don’t understand the parenting challenges of raising gifted kids?

Why is raising a gifted child, a child who most believe to have an advantaged life, so taxing? I could throw all the medical, educational and psychological facts at you, instead I will give you my own, personal analogy which may explain the why—just another attempt to foster some understanding of what it is to have a gifted child.

If you take a typical child with the typical cognitive functions of intelligence, emotions, senses, social understanding and others, and you put them all under a magnifying glass, they become emphasized, enlarged—MAGNIFIED. That is how I see a gifted child–with larger-than-life emotions, an immense vocabulary, tremendous intellectual and reasoning skills, king-sized sensitivities, and more pronounced educational needs. Their intelligence is magnified, their emotions are exaggerated, and all sensory and informational input and output passes through a filter which amplifies it all. And this in turn makes parenting gifted kids more intense, more challenging, and more, just more.

Hey, all I’m asking is for a little understanding for all of us on this dizzying ride parenting a gifted child. It is not always a bed of roses or a daily glide down a rainbow, y’all! Please understand, it’s like olympic-style parenting–MAGNIFIED.


This post is part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum November Blog Hop, The Highs and Lows of Gifted Parenting. Take a look at all the other posts discussing the highs and lows of parenting gifted children.

GHF November blog hop

27 Comments on “Understanding Gifted Parenting

  1. As well as up and down you get the four engineering stresses – tension, compression, torsion and shear. 🙂 Do with this metaphor as you see fit.

  2. Pingback: Digital Skills, Civil Disobedience, & Herb Knowledge  – SLISing

  3. Thank you for this post. My youngest son is described so well here, as is my life as his Mom. It just dawned on us (yeah, I know, we obviously aren’t the gifted ones) that our son’s issues aren’t medical really. They are his giftedness. We didn’t realize he was gifted. Looking back, I think to myself, “how did we miss it” He screamed it for years in his abilities and what he did. I have pictures of him as a toddler doing things toddlers didn’t do. But I missed it. No wonder the kid gets frustrated. But, not anymore. This Mom and Dad are on board. Now, we have absolutely no idea where to go from here. I am reading like mad, telling him we will figure this out, asking hubby what he thinks we should do often, and am hoping we are getting it right. This feels as overwhelming as his big brothers multiple medical issues do. He is so intense, SO INTENSE. Sensory … yes! So glad I found your blog. I am hoping for inspiration or, I will just take posts where I shake my head in agreement.

    • Kari,

      If it makes you feel any better, as parents, my husband and I didn’t realize our youngest was gifted (although he was screaming it out, too) until he was in 6th grade. And then we realized our older two near-adult sons were gifted, too. You know giftedness is believed to be inherited, right? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 🙂

      Yes, read, read, read! And join the many Facebook groups devoted to parents of gifted children. You will find support and advice there.

      Welcome to the world of gifted parenting…and make sure you are buckled in. It’s gonna be a great ride!

      Thanks, Kari!

  4. As days….weeks go by, I return to this article and say, “yep, yep, and yep.” When my 2nd grader was in school I’d read this in tears and even shake a bit. I myself was an emotional nutcase. Now, I read it as I’ve been homeschooling and I’m often smiling! While all your points remain true, he’s so much happier these days – learning at such a fast pace, playing hard, and being him! THANK YOU Celi!

    • Aww, Yomaida, you are welcome, and thank you for your support and all those tweets! It is so amazing to hear from parents of gifted children, over and over, how much happier our gifted children are when they are homeschooled and free to learn at their own pace. I’m SO happy to hear your little man is doing well!

      Thank you, Yomaida! <3

  5. I could have said this to a close friend of mine as well! ““It’s hard! I wish others could just understand how difficult it is to raise a gifted child… I’m so exhausted. I just wish others knew this.”

    Parenting gifted kids is an extreme adventure!

  6. Love this, Celi, and you are spot on. MAGNIFIED. And when everyone in the house is magnified…oh my. Thanks for a great post!

  7. Thank you for your post. I have come to understand and accept that I am raising gifted children. Not that I didn’t kow that they were gifted, but I admit that I have dreamt of a nice long break from the intense exasparation that their traits can cause in the daily basis. But it is so wonderful to see others sharing their experiences. I have found a new normal. I will live with it and be more proactive about the challenge so that I won’t lose the precious opportunities to provide the nourishment and guidance that my kids need to thrive to become a vital and resilient part of the commuity. Kids, I’m here for you. Bring it on. I’m ready to grow more gray hair for you.

    • “Kids, I’m here for you. Bring it on. I’m ready to grow more gray hair for you.” <---- LOVE this! Absolutely LOVE this, Rihoko! Glad to hear you are ready to take charge! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm! It is inspirational!

  8. All I can say right now is… I NEED A FREAKIN’ HANDBOOK! Smile. Frown. Smile Again. Thank goodness there are blog hops like these. I feel so lost sometimes.

  9. Larger than life emotions are a daily occurrence. Everything is experienced in the extremes. Gifted kids are just MORE. If we could only take turns being intense instead of it being like a domino effect.

  10. Pingback: The Highs and Lows of Gifted Parenting GHF

  11. I came across a fascinating quote the other day that might explain, at least a little, why it’s so difficult for those who are not in the same situation or deal with Gifted children on a regular basis it finds it difficult: We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. – Anais Nin

    Another quote is:

    Every kind of ignorance in the world all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it, we don’t even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think this is reality. – Robert Anton Wilson

    in my reading yesterday I came across a term I hadn’t heard before, specifically Confirmation Bias. Confirmation Bias is defined as the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. – Scott Plous (1993)

    My first impression of children whom were Gifted came from a 60 minutes’ segment when I was young. This particular segment left me with a negative view of gifted children, or neurodiverse. Over the years since that segment air I’ve gone looking for anything that would re-enforce my opinion though I doubt I was consciously aware I was doing it. My views changing but I also know that my bias is still present.

    • Douglas,

      I really like that quote, and the term “confirmation bias” is so appropriate given our current world and political climate. I really appreciate you sharing both of these. Excellent “food for thought!”

      You know, I understand about the bias. Before I realized and accepted that I was parenting gifted kids, I had a bias against gifted children. That bias was exactly what kept me from admitting I had gifted kids. My bias came from seeing the way the gifted program was being implemented at my oldest son’s elementary school–it fueled the feeling of elitism which has always overshadowed the truths about giftedness.

      After traveling this rocky road and working hard to advocate for gifted children, I really do only hope for understanding. I know we may never get full support from some people, but surely less animosity and resentfulness towards gifted children and their families.

      You have my sincere admiration, Douglas, for you tolerance, willingness to understand and acceptance of what giftedness is. Not many people can be as open and honest as you have been!

      Thank you!

  12. Thank you for this… every word is so true. I absolutely needed to read this today. Big hugs!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *