When I was 5 years old, my father had me convinced he could read my mind. Each morning, I would sit in the bathroom while he shaved and hold up a card (facing me, back of the card to him) and he would guess the card right EVERY TIME! When I thought back to this parenting trick when I was older, I realized he could see the card reflected in the mirror behind me.
Sure, I eventually figured out his trick, but for YEARS I never told a lie to my father because I thought he would be able to read my mind and know I was lying. A little bit of parental deception can yield a bounty of leverage and influence over one’s children. And hopefully, by the time they find you out, the habit of doing what you wanted them to do is so ingrained in them that it will be their fallback behavior even when you don’t wield as much influence over their actions.
I unwittingly stumbled upon the tricks required to trick your children into believing you’re smarter than you actually are. Hindsight being 20-20 though, I realized I could use my own experience to create a road map for other parents to follow. It’s too late for me, but you still have time to convince your kids you’re a genius.
Convince Your Kids You’re An Idiot
I realize this seems counterintuitive, but think about how much more impressed you are by someone who pulls themselves up out of poverty to become a self-made millionaire compared to someone who attends boarding schools and attends an ivy league college. So, when your moment of brilliance occurs, you want it to really catch your kids by surprise to make a bigger impact.
If you only have one child, you might actually have to try to look like an idiot. Mothers of two or more children should have no trouble at all. All those times that you call your children by the wrong name (and occasionally by the dog’s name) are finally going to work for you. Likewise, walking up and down the stairs from your bedroom to the kitchen to try and remember what it was that occurred to you when you were making your bed that you needed to do downstairs, will finally provide a benefit in addition to the inadvertent exercise you’ve been getting. I really started to pick up traction when I would literally lose my train of thought halfway through sentences.
Don’t Confront Them When You Catch Them Doing Something Wrong
This is a hard one. When you have evidence that your child has done something he or she shouldn’t have done, your instinct is to confront him or her with the evidence and give your lecture on why it was wrong and how you have higher expectations for behavior. Here’s what’s wrong with that approach—Instead of teaching your kids not to commit the offense again, it just teaches them that they need to be better about covering their tracks next time.
If you sit on the information though, you can pull it out when they aren’t expecting it. When you casually bring up something you knew about from weeks or months ago that they thought they got away with, they become convinced that you know a lot more about what they’ve been up to. This belief makes them think twice about everything they do, which is really what you want because until their consciences are fully formed, the little voice in their head telling them what is right and what is wrong sounds an awful lot like you.
Learn Random Facts On A Variety of Topics
I like to read a wide variety of genres. Every once in a while, small details seep into my brain from the things I read. Usually, these are inconsequential facts and don’t benefit my daily life in any meaningful way other than occasionally providing me with the answer to a crossword puzzle clue. However, on very rare occasions, I am able to throw one of these random facts into a conversation with my children and after years of convincing them I’m an idiot, the effect is mesmerizing.
Nothing stops a kid in his tracks faster than the mom who almost put a pile of the laundry in the refrigerator rattling off a bunch of facts about the Battle of the Roses with detailed opinions about the battle between the House of York and the House of Lancaster for the throne (they don’t need to know this information was amassed watching “The White Queen”). Likewise, my husband likes to check out the school curriculum for the year and will study one or two units from each subject so that when the kids get to it in school, he can rattle off facts like he’s known them all his life.
If this seems like too much work for you, you can rely on knowledge obtained when you were a teen because it will seem new and revolutionary to your teen daughter when you share it with her now. My daughter was captivated by my hairdressing prowess when she walked in on me blow drying my hair while it was in a bun to achieve natural-looking waves in my ponytail.
Hopefully these tips will help you convince your kids you’re a genius and you can leverage the benefits for years to come, ideally with the outcome that they will end up doing the right thing even when they realize you can’t read their minds and they will value your opinion after they find out you don’t really know everything.