So how do you get your kids to open up to you? How do you get your kids to tell you how their day went and what’s on their minds? I’ll share how I used to do it with my son. And I’ll warn you up front. This is not the preferred technique. When my son was around 4, he was in a parent’s morning out 2 days a week and I work full time outside the home. When we all got together at the end of the day, I’d ask simple leading questions to try and engage him and get him to tell me about his day. His most common responses were simple “yes,” “no,” and “I don’t remember.” So then I started playing “stupid daddy.” Has anyone else tried this?

Stupid Daddy is where I would ask the questions I wanted answered, then before he could respond, I’d provide the most absurd answers I could think of. It usually created lots of giggling and then he couldn’t resist correcting me and telling me what really happened. Here’s a sample. Me: “What did you do today. No wait! Let me guess. So you and Mama rode a camel to preschool, then you wrestled alligators all morning. You ate pickles, crickets and drank motor oil for lunch, and then finished your day flying home in a rocket ship, right?” We’d all laugh and then he’d fill me in on his day. So what’s the harm you ask? At the time, I didn’t see any until about a year later we were having a conversation about smartness. The boy was relating intelligence to height and the conversation went like this.

Me: “So how smart is Mama?”

Boy: “OH…Mama’s very smart. Like up to space and back smart.”

Me: “How about Grandma Cheryl. How smart is she?”

Boy:”Up to the sky.” (Note that space and the sky are two different levels.)

Me: “So how smart are you?”

Boy: “About as smart as a tall tree.” I was impressed by his humility. Not placing his own intelligence ahead of his mother or grandmother.

Then comes the money question and I already know I’m in trouble, but I can’t pass up asking.

Me: “So how smart is Daddy.”

Boy: pauses….”about as smart as a bush.”

Me: “A bush? Really? Like a really tall bush.”

Boy: “No not really.”

We haggled for a while and in the end established that it might be possible that I was as smart as a bush as I was tall (just short of 6 ft).It took quite awhile after that to impress upon the boy that his father wasn’t a total buffoon, and might just be smarter than your average shrub. What’s been fun is that as he’s matured (all the way to first grade mind you), he’s learned that different people in his life are smarter about different things. If he has questions about birds and animal life, he goes to his grandma. She’s a biologist. If he has questions about plants he goes to his Mama. She’s a botanist. If he has questions about sports or relationships, he’s learned to come to me. Apparently, he values my opinions on some things.

So my question stands. How do you draw information out of your kids on a daily basis? I can promise you that I’m not playing “Stupid Daddy” any more when his toddler sister gets old enough to tell me about her day, so I need a new game plan.