I spend a lot of time trying to concoct arguments that are so persuasive that even a hardcore unreachable will say, "Golly. Not only was I wrong, but probably stupid as well, and perhaps a little bit insane. I now adopt your viewpoint as my own. Would you like a bite of my sandwich?"

My favorite fantasy in this genre is imagining what I could say to a kid that would make him think he should substitute his own judgment for mine. My fantasy argument goes like this:Kid: Can I climb on the roof?

Me: No. You'd get hurt.

Kid: I'll be careful. And my friend Brian climbs on his roof all the time. He never falls off.

Now at this point you realize that regular reasoning isn't going to win the day. You have to resort to the "Because I said so" fall-back, but while effective, that never seems like a clean win to me. To the kid it appears you don't have a good reason and you're just being an ass about it. That's why I fantasize about the rest of the discussion going this way:

Me: Do you know who invented the roof?

Kid: No.

Me: It wasn't a kid. In fact, nothing important has ever been invented by a kid. Do you know why that is?

Kid: I don't care.

Me: It's because your brain won't be fully developed until sometime in your twenties.

Kid: I'm not listening TRA-LA-LA-LA-LA!!!

Me: You don't understand why you can't go on the roof because your brain isn't developed enough to understand the risk involved.

Kid: You suck. I hate you.

Me: I'll make you a deal. If you can find anything in this house that was invented by a kid, I'll admit that kids know as much as adults and you can climb on the roof. Use my computer, which incidentally was invented by adults. Go nuts.

(seven hours later)

Kid: Golly. Not only was I wrong, but probably stupid as well, and perhaps a little bit insane. I now adopt your viewpoint as my own. Would you like a bite of my sandwich?

Me: Thanks, but the last time you washed your hands was in amniotic fluid.

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0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
BTW, I loved jumping off the garage roof. We started by jumping off the fence, about 42" high. Then, the bough of the tree, about 60" high, then the garage. You can learn to land in a way that doesn't injure your body. Unless you land on a large root, falling off the side of it and ripping calf muscles to shreds, maybe breaking a bone or two.
Jul 28, 2008
My best argument "win"

Girlfriend: "You can't live there - it is only 1 mile from the graveyard the ghosts will come at night"
Me "there is no such thing as ghosts"

-- Rookie error - got me nowhere

Me "Ghosts can't travel that far"

-- not bad but didn't convince her

Me "Ghosts don't live in the graveyard, they stay where the body died"

-- This she accepted without question
(strangely the fact the 40% of my street was destroyed by bombs in WWII didn't lead her to the conclusion that there might be ghosts closer to home)
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
This is one of those situations that only time will resolve. Time and a large paddle.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
Is it possible to learn how to think like a kid again? That might be the only way to level the playing field.
Jul 28, 2008
I remember something from a Sunday Dilbert strip.
(from memory)
Young Dilbert : Mom, can I skate at the construction site ?
Mom: Nope.
Y. Dilbert: all the others are doing it !
Mom: If the others jumped of a cliff, would you too ?
Y.D. : It depends... If they all came back from it unharmed and saying it was fun... I'd think it's pretty safe.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
I'm currently going the other way with my 8-year old. If I have the time I make it into a project. For example, the roof is a tilted, slippery surface. Lets put this board on the ground here and put a bit of engine oil on it to make it slippery. Now run up it. Good job. Now stand on it halfway and pretend to wave at your friend across the street. Get excited. Whoops, you fell. What would have happened to you if you were up on the roof? Slid off the edge? A ten foot fall will at least break a bone or two. Remember how you got a shot last week? If you break a bone you would have to have at least 8 shots to numb the area before they try to set it... how do you feel about shots? so how do you feel about roofs?

Works often.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
Uhoh, Scott, you make it sound, as if once an adult a person becomes persuadable by logic (which, as much as I understand, is actually contrary to your perception of human nature).

How many arguments run like that:
Miss y: It's A
Mr x: No, actually the recent facts indicate it's B
Miss y: Your tie clashes with your, you don't have a girfriend and I like A more than B.
Jul 28, 2008
I thought this was a great post. However, I don't think adults can always remember how it was to be a kid, and the kid probably won't learn a lesson (get experience) from simply being told not to do something. However, if you're legitimately worried about the child dying or getting in a horrible accident, overriding the child's desire is necessary, but I think a lot of parents overreact. I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the child is completely unable to make reasonable decisions about his own ability. Kids don't just throw themselves off cliffs when you stop watching them.

Disclaimer: Not yet a parent, but at one time was a kid.
Jul 28, 2008
I teach 9th grade science and it's sometimes hilarious where those premature brains will take kids, sometimes it's not. I'm only 11 or 12 years older than my students, and the difference is amazing. They literally think they are adults and expect to be treated as such. However, most of them are at least a decade away.
Jul 28, 2008
This won't work when people ignore logic, or better yet, invent their own logic to support this argument.

I like watching all of the political coverage just to see how everyone will conform the facts to fit their existing beliefs. I wish I could work my way up to being a presidential candidate, and then 1 month before the election, admit that legalizing cannibalism is now part of my platform, and then watch supporters of the party I belong to try to spin it positively.
Jul 28, 2008
There's loads of things invented by kids, but according to this website....
none of them were invented by American kids. So maybe that's your problem.
Move to a different country.
Jul 28, 2008
dcheynelokke, google was invented by larry page at the age of 23
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
I used to play on our roof (ranch style house), the chicken coop roof, the barn (no hayloft) roof and any other roof I could reach. To my surprise, when taking a tour of the Dow (founders of Dow-Corning and benefactors of most of Midland, Michigan) house, I learned that one of the heirs allowed his kids to play on the roof. Their roof was much more elaborate.....

(I don't let the kids play on hour roof, because kids today aren't smart enough. We also have to pervent the sale of anything [like Kinder eggs] that contains pieces small enough to fit in kids' mouths because kids, especially American ones, are too stupid to know better than to try to ingest everythng. I hate lawyers!)
Jul 28, 2008
One day my dad came home for lunch and one of our neighbor's kids was on top of our roof, dressed in some kind of superhero outfit about to jump off. I'm not sure how the conversation went entirely, but my guess is it involved the phrase "you better hope you can fly."
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
I remember climbing on roofs when I was a kid. Climbed trees too. In fact, we did all sorts of things that if done today would bring charges of neglect, and possible jail time, to parents. We rode bikes without wearing helmets. We drank water straight from the garden hose. We rode in cars without seatbelts. We went out to play for hours at a time with our parents not knowing exactly where we were. (As long as we got home by the time the street lights came on, we were OK.)

I'm not advocating dangerous activities, but today's parents seem to be way overprotective. And how do you reconcile your behavior as a child with what you tell your children?

+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
My dad used to encourage me to go up on the roof any old time I wanted, as long as I:
-cleaned the gutters
-caulked around the chimney
-inspected the shingles
-checked for hornets and wasps nesting in the eaves
-repaired the screens on the upper windows.

Make it into a chore (or a whole bunch of chores) and they'll stay far away.
Jul 28, 2008
The problem with this argument is that superior intellects such as you and I and probably most of your readers as well are so often correct when compared with the in"duh"viduals around us that it becomes somewhat difficult to recognize those few occasions when we might be mistaken in some minor manner. The irony here is that those of lesser intellect, due to their incomplete understanding, are just as convinced of their own views. I'm afraid there's no way around this conundrum. All we can do is try to use our powers of superior reason to subtly change the misguided understanding and efforts of those less gifted than ourselves in some way that may be somewhat more likely to result in improving their condition without forcing them to admit to their limited mental capacities. ---gk
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
> he should substitute his own judgment for mine

He's already using your judgment, and you're asking him to use his own?
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
Did you know that amniotic fluid is created by the fetus !$%*!$%*! into the amniotic sac? Knowing that makes the image of a kid washing his hands in the amniotic fluid even more appropos....
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2008
Hi Scott,

Engaging in arguments in which flawed logic rules is no fun, welcome to parenting. I love your hypothetical dialogue. Maybe I am just old, but I don't see the need to use, kid, as the antagonist. I have had similar conversations with people well beyond alleged kid years. In the future I am going to use the, your brain is not fully developed enough, clause just to amuse myself, it is a great pseudo-insult arguing point.

Good luck arguing with kids. When working with kids switch to logic that they can more easily understand. Use the, its mine I own it, I don’t want you breaking it, argument. Kids understand not sharing very well. Or forget arguing, let them play on the roof. Just have them clean the gutters first, eventually it could be a win-win,…win scenario.

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