How to convince your kids that you’re the smartest person they’ll ever know.

Posted on May 16, 2012


atoms and Eves

Welcome to this week’s installment of WTF Wednesday, where we give way more than we take. In fact, we don’t take our own advice at all.

This week’s question was submitted via email by Jimmy Ettele, owner of the blog Founding a Father and its corresponding Facebook page. You’ll also find him on Twitter as @jetts31.

Mr. Ettele writes

Dear IBMP,

How do I convince my kids I’m the smartest person they will ever know?

The good news, Jimmy, is that kids are born thinking their parents are the smartest people they’ll ever know. The bad news is that they’re also born with eyes and ears so it’s just a matter of time.

You do have some options to delay the inevitable realization. Here are four:

Learning from the business world

One way, of course, is to assure your kids are never around people who are smarter than you. Lots of managers use this technique in the work environment. The idea is to surround yourself with stupid people so your boss (or in your case, your daughter) thinks you’re brilliant. This generally only works when your boss is stupid enough to not notice that you’ve surrounded yourself with stupid people—and if your boss wasn’t employing that technique when they hired you.

The problem with this approach is that you’ve obviously already picked your wife and keeping her away from your kids will be tough. Leaving her because she’s smarter than you, while actually pretty common in relationships, is not recommended. Your kids will have weekends and every other Thursday alone with her while she tells them how all the stuff you say is crap.

Take control of their knowledge

Another very popular technique is home schooling. I’m sure you’ve heard the popular saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; those who can’t teach, teach anyway.” The advantage of home schooling is that there’s no actual expert brainwashing your child with correct facts and concepts for 8 hours a day.

If you can’t be smarter than a 10 year-old, be faster

Remember your algebra? History? How about French? Me neither, but that doesn’t stop me from convincing my son that I do. Homework provides another great opportunity to demonstrate your superior mental capabilities but it takes some work. While your child works diligently on problem 1, you need to be sneaking a peak at problem 2.  She’s on 4, you’re on 5, and so on. It’s a bit tricky but with practice you’ll get the hang of it.

The teen years

Finally, there will come the time when your kids are teenagers. Convincing your teenagers that you’re the smartest person they’ll ever meet is indeed a challenge but it’s not impossible. Pretty much the only way to ensure your teenage kids think you’re even remotely close to being smart is to keep your mouth shut for the duration of their teen years and, ideally, into their early twenties.

Problem solved! You’re welcome.


WTF Wednesdays are a regular feature here at IBMP. If you’d like a question thoughtfully answered by a well-respected expert in the field, well, this isn’t the place. But if you’d be satisfied with totally useless guidance from a total hack, toss us a question and we might just pick yours one of these Wednesdays.

Posted in: Advice (bad)