Raising your gifted grown-up comes with its unique set of challenges. Sure, it is fantastic to be raised by someone who understands why the line across the toe of your socks drives you into a frantic tailspin, but these grown-ups take time and patience to handle. I have put together a list of a few things you can do to keep that gifted mom/dad’s meltdowns to a minimum, and help them “meet their potential”, as we hear them say in conversation. *
1. Food. Your gifted grown-up needs healthy snacks and meals every 2-3 hours. It is important to pay attention and be sure that they are not just finishing the snacks and meals that you decided you no longer liked or wanted to eat. Grown-ups are tricky, and will tell you that they don’t feel like making another snack because they have just spent 15 minutes in the kitchen paying close attention that the peanut butter on your celery is applied with the correct peanut butter to celery ratio, and the celery strings have all been removed. If your gifted grown-up does not eat their very own snack, you will notice a quick decline in their behavior, perhaps presented in the form of short-tempered responses followed by apologies. If your grown-up continues to decline food after your generous offers, get a big scoop of that peanut butter on a spoon, and bring it to them with your best puppy-dog eyes. Tell them you just want what is best for them. Who can resist that?
2. Exercise. Your gifted grown-up needs to move. He/she builds up a great deal of energy throughout the day, and may even have psychomotor overexcitabilities. If you notice that your mom is fidgeting a lot while you are explaining to her why you have been considering that the moon has a core, and based on the recent evidence of Europa’s tectonic activity, you feel that you are on the right track, and will she please help you find some more information about this, she may need to do some jumping jacks while you talk, chew a piece of gum, or play with a stress ball. She wants to pay attention, but occasionally her mind wanders and her inner engine revs up and needs a release. It might help to encourage her to go for a run in the morning, or do some yoga in order to get some of that energy out before you expect her full attention for the day.
3. Brain Food. Your gifted grown-up requires a great deal of intellectual stimulation. Stacks and stacks of it. Take numerous trips to the library. Ask lots of questions, preferably questions that your grown-up has not considered before, or in a subject area that he is not well-versed. This will give your gifted grown-up motivation to do some research. Your gifted grown-up has his own interests, too, and often forgets to pursue them. Watch for answers to grow shorter, eyes to grow a bit dull, and a smile that looks forced. These are signs of brain food shortage, and can be remedied by reminding him to do something that he enjoys and feeds his need for knowledge. Provide some quiet time for him so he can focus on writing, researching, or another favorite brain past-time.
…which bring me to my next tip.
4. Quiet time. Gifted grown-ups need time to recharge. Consider the morning that you and your sister were busy creating an awesome 5-pot band, complete with a harmonica, your baby brother would not let Mom put him down, and the road construction crew had been repairing your block. Mom’s sensual overexcitability was probably on overload. If she didn’t have a melt-down, it was probably a few precious threads away from happening. Send your gifted grown-up to a quiet place daily. Tell her that it is really, truly okay to take some time for herself in a calm, peaceful room. She needs to reboot, or someone may just get the boot. While she is having her quiet time, you and your siblings should also find something quiet to do, like rearrange the kitchen for her, or see how high you can stack every book from the shelf in the living room. But remember, keep it quiet. She needs some peace.
5. Grown-Up Friends. Your gifted grown-up will tell you that she has plenty of friends and adult interaction. It’s most likely not true. Adults need other adults to talk to, whether they are virtual or in-person friends. Yours may be an introvert who prefers one or two select people, and finds group interactions and office parties exhausting. He may not have found his person yet. Gifted grown-ups frequently have a difficult time finding others with whom they “fit in”. If your gifted grown-up fits this description, there are several on-line forums and groups that have the potential of showing your gifted grown-up that they are not alone, are not crazy, and do have a “tribe” somewhere. Encourage them to find these other special adults, and make some connections.
Most importantly, encourage your gifted grown-up. It is a glorious thing to have a mind like theirs, but from time to time they get bogged down in the difficulties and forget. Remind them that they are unique and get to experience the world in a way that most others do not. Give them a hug on the bad days. With your help, your gifted grown-up will flourish.
*This is, of course, a parody of the commonly seen blog posts entitled “10 ways To Motivate Your Gifted Child” or “5 Ways to Help Your Gifted Child Meet Their Potential”. Humor aside, all of these areas are important to maintain sanity. Take care of yourself, gifted grown-ups. We are a complicated bunch, and without the proper attention to our needs, life can get difficult.
For more resources/support for gifted adults, follow these links:
(This article is one of my personal favorites.)
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