I recently read a post in which my friend A Simple Jew considered the impact of children on your own intelligence. He said a couple of things that I wanted to respond to here as well as open the topic for further discussion because I think that it is interesting.
“Can intelligence get in the way of parenting? While occupied with children the parent has to turn off his mind to some to degree from his own intellectual pursuits.
On the weekend I wake up at 5:00 and go downstairs and learn until my wife and children wake up at 7:00. I cherish this time alone. I spend these two hours exercising my brain since I know that I will have to turn it off once the children are up. I have found that taking this time to myself helps me be more fully devoted to my family during the course of the day.”
I don’t think that your own intellectual capacity for learning has to be turned off during the time in which you are engaged in parenting activities, it is just redirected in a different direction. And I think that the ages of your children will impact it too.
That is, if you have very young children more of your time is taken in helping to teach them how to be good people and how to find their way in the world. So your own learning is going to be a little bit more limited because of the time they require and they probably are not going to be able to act as your chavrusa (study partner).
But you can still learn with them. It is a chance to reevaluate what you have been taught and really consider what you want them to learn and to make a part of themselves.
“There are plenty of very intelligent people with advanced degrees and small children at home. I wonder if it is more difficult for them to “put there brain aside” when dealing with their children. I wonder if intelligence to some degree can be a stumbling block.
Too much intelligence is not good. It makes one over think even the most trivial decisions and does not allow one to live in the moment. Too little intelligence can potentially be dangerous.
Exactly where is the line?”
Again I see it as a question of how to redirect that energy in a fashion that suits both you and your children. Small children may make it harder to deal with quantum mechanics, but not impossible.
I don’t think that you can be too intelligent. Anyone can be paralyzed by indecisiveness as well as a tendency to overanalyze the world around them, intelligence does not have to play a role in this.
One of the key points you address is the need to remember to live in the present and not get caught by memories of past victories/failures or thoughts of the future. That is something that I work on every day.
This is an interesting topic that can go a lot of different directions, thanks.