{Big Ideas} A Few Questions about Gifted Adults and their “Rainforest Minds” with Author Paula Prober


This summer my friend Paula Prober, a licensed therapist, released her first book. The title, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth {Amazon Affiliate Link}, comes from her popular blog. The phrase “rainforest mind” is a brilliant description of the multi-faceted experience of living with giftedness.

In October Paula graciously sent me a copy from her personal stash. When finished reading it, I posted this review via Amazon:

“Having had the honor of seeing the author’s SENG presentation in San Jose a few years back, I was eager to see how she took her ideas and insights from the talk to the page. Prober did not disappoint. In fact, what she has written for GHF Press is an essential book for therapists and gifted advocates hoping to grasp a better idea of gifted adults. What I found especially helpful are the many resources identified in the text. Hopefully readers will take these suggestions to heart, follow up on them, and begin to amplify discussions of “rainforest minds” online and in their communities.”

Shortly thereafter I sent the newly minted author a few question “clusters,” the answers to which she generously allowed me to share here with you. What I loved about her reply is that they reflect Paula’s clear, honest, and insightful writing–the same content you’ll find if you purchase the book. (Scroll down past the cover to see her responses.)


Q: One of the recurring stories that comes up in the gifted advocacy community is the adult who comes to understand his/her own giftedness through the identification of giftedness (and/or twice-exceptionality) in a child. Can you talk broadly about issues you see related to multi-generational “rainforest minds”? Are there two or three specific actions or habits can families develop to create safe, welcoming family environments and nurturing relationships for gifted adults and youth?

A: I often see that as well: “multi-generational rainforest minds” Here are a few of my suggestions for parents based on the issues that I see in these families:

  • Practice simply listening and reflecting feelings when your child is having a meltdown. Keep breathing so that you can stay calm. Don’t take the extreme emotion personally. (None of this is easy. You may want to meltdown yourself.) Problem solve with your child once the storm is over and let your child offer solutions so that the whole family is collaborating. Explain that having a rainforest mind means having passionate feelings that can at times be overwhelming. (for you, too)
  • Ask your child to imagine a large container to hold his/her intense emotions when it’s not safe or wise to express them. When your child returns home, the emotions can be released. Have a list handy of positive ways to release emotions. Your child can choose from the list.
  • Avoid power struggles by responding to requests with: “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.”
  • Make a list of ways you can relax and soothe yourself. Make the time to do them! Take breaks from your kids. Practice self-soothing techniques with your child.
  • Your child will not be irreparably harmed if you make a mistake! When you apologize, you give your child permission to err and you demonstrate how to manage mistakes.
  • If you’re noticing that you’re over-reacting repeatedly to your child’s intensities or schooling troubles, it may be because your own difficult childhood experiences are being triggered. This might be the time to find a good counselor to address your own issues. In my experience, when parents enter counseling, the whole multi-generational system benefits!

Excellent resources related to this parenting gifted kids can be found at Charlotte Reznick at imageryforkids.com, and via the Hoagie’s and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hops (see here and here). The blog hops are on particularly important topics and are written by parents and professionals.

Q: In light of eldercare and parenting and the “Sandwich Generation,” can you talk about the ways stress can rattle a mid-life rainforest mind–and what, if anything, they can do to combat it?

A: Because you have a rainforest mind, you may believe that you have to excel at all things. And you may, in fact, excel at many (all?) things. And yet. Parenting a gifted child is challenging enough. Add eldercare, and you will surely be rattled. Seriously and exceedingly rattled. Repeatedly. You will have to say goodbye to your unhealthy perfectionism.

This means that you have to admit that you have limits, to ask for help and to take breaks. For the welfare of all of your family members, it will be more important than ever to take care of yourself by doing activities that soothe your soul.

And, if you don’t excel at all things, all of the time?

Trust me.

You will still be gifted.

Thanks so much, Paula!

If you, dear reader, have had the pleasure of reading Your Rainforest Mind–of if you have questions or comments about her remarks above, I’m sure we’d both love to hear about it in comments.

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  1. Very recently I crossed paths with Paula via a private facebook group, InterGifted. (There’s also http://www.intergifted.com) It has been most serendipitous for me! Her insights are so validating, so rewarding for those gifted adults like myself who have spent most of their lives tolerating background emptiness, frustration, alienation. I heartily recommend her book.

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