Kids say the darndest things … especially if you tee them up with an interesting conversation starter.
As witty and off-the-wall as your child’s thinking-out-loud comments can be, sometimes the best one-liners come with a little parental prompting. You never know what you’re going to get when you ask, “What’s one thing you’re really, really looking forward to doing as an adult?” or “What subject do you think should be taught in school but isn’t?”
With that in mind, we asked HuffPost readers to share the one question they’re glad they asked their kids — either because it elicited a hilarious response or a really thoughtful one.
See what they had to say below.
1. “What do you think Mommy and Daddy will do once you are grown up and have moved out?”
“My 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter are kind, intelligent and thoughtful beings, but their perspectives on life are amusingly different. My daughter is inquisitive, analytical and lives in a fact-based world. My son is easygoing, rolls with the punches and is a straight-up clown.
For instance, one day I asked, ‘What do you think Mommy and Daddy will do once you are grown up and have moved out?’ My 10-year-old said, ‘Cry but also be happy because we lived together for a very long time and now you finally have free time.’ My son said, ‘I don’t know, maybe watch movies together, eat, drink, just sit around a lot. Go to Cracker Barrel. Can we have Cracker Barrel for dinner? I just really love Cracker Barrel.’” ― Danielle Gillihan, a mom of two and @StruggleDisplay on Twitter
2. “What would dogs say if they could speak?”
“Me to my 6-year-old: ’What do you think dogs would say to you if they could talk?’
My 6-year-old: ‘Give me bacon. It’s not bad for me, it helps me grow muscles. Bacon is like vitamins for dogs.’
…I’m wondering if this stems from my husband constantly saying he couldn’t live without bacon.” ― Holly Ballantine, a mom of three and comedian
3. “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“My oldest turned 12 today. He’s been taking drum lessons since the age of 8. I’ve been told since then that he’s incredibly advanced for his age. He’s played in a bunch of different shows and even performed at World Cafe in Philly. A week after one of his performances, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. I assumed the answer was ‘professional drummer.’
I was shocked when he told me he wants to be a marine biologist. Because I’m a parent and want to live my fantasies through him, I said, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome, but maybe you should try drums first. Being in a band and touring the world isn’t always possible but sharks and sea life will always be there when you’re done.’ He looked at me and said, ‘But do we really know they’ll always be there?’ Well. Played.” ― Chris Illuminati, a dad of two and @messagewithabottle on Instagram
4. “What would you do if you ever saw anyone being bullied at school?”
“My 12-year-old son went from third grade, in-person school and skipped straight to sixth grade in person after doing remote learning for COVID, so getting along with peers and social development were delayed. At the beginning of this school year, I asked him, ‘Hey, bud, what would you do if you ever saw anyone being bullied at school?’
Him: ‘I would think about if that was my little sister or brother and I would talk to them. I would make sure they both talked to a grown-up so they would both be OK.’
Me: ‘What do you mean?’
Him: ‘I want the bully to get help, too. Being mean is probably because they aren’t happy. I would ask if both of them needed a friend, too.’
He often surprises me with his empathy, but hearing this level of emotional intelligence convinced me he would be just fine.” ― Elizabeth Leal, a mom of three and @mom_ontherock on Twitter
5. “What did you learn at school this week?”
“I’m constantly asking my 6-year-old what he’s been learning at school that week, or if anything interesting has happened. Sometimes I barely get an answer, and other times, he drops some gems on me like, ‘Well, I learned that George Washington was pretty much terrible for eight years and they put him on a quarter.’” ― Ash, a mom of two and @Tobi_is_Fab on Twitter
6. “Why do you think the dinosaurs went extinct but other animals survived?”
“As the parent of a preschooler and a kindergartener, it’s safe to say that the subject of dinosaurs comes up from time to time. During a recent conversation with my kids about endangered species and extinction, I asked why they thought the dinosaurs went extinct but other animals survived; their answers were logical, rooted in facts from some of our dinosaur books, and pretty amusing.
My son, nearly 6, said that dinosaurs were known for having small brains, and therefore ‘weren’t that bright.’ He explained, ’I bet the smart animals all saw the asteroid coming and moved out of the way. The dumb dinosaurs saw it coming and were just like, ‘Oh, cool, look at that thing,’ and just sat there. Next thing you know ― BAAAMMM ― it blew them to SMITHEREENS!’
My daughter, who is 4 [AND A HALF!], also drew from her vast knowledge of dinosaur biology: ‘Dinosaurs were the tallest animals around,’ she declared. ‘So when an asteroid came from the sky it hit their tall heads and all of the smaller animals just ducked.’” ― Hal, a dad of two and @henpeckedhal on Twitter
7. “What is a trait you most admire in other people?”
“My one 11-year-old, who has ADHD, said, ‘People who easily stay focused in class.’ My other 11-year-old said, ‘People who make exercise a priority,’ and my 13-year-old said, ‘Bravery because it’s hard to do.’” ― Erin Royer, founder of Your Village Inc, which offers online parenting classes
8. “If people could see inside of you, what would they see?”
“I asked my 4-year-old, ‘If people could see inside of you, what would they see?’ He told me, ‘Bones, lungs, cartilage and blood.’ He gave the most literal answer he could possibly give. No need to mention the heart ― it’s not important. That concludes our anatomy lesson for today.” ― Bre Pearl, a mom of two and @fullofmomsense on Instagram
9. “If you were to write a book featuring you as the main character, how would you describe yourself?”
“I have asked this question in the past to get a read on how my son is feeling about himself at different times in life. Does he have a healthy sense of self? Is he experiencing an inflated or deflated sense of self? I posed this question when he was 8 years old after he insisted on completing the unimaginable task of eulogizing his beloved dad. At the time, he basically described himself as Spider-Man on steroids, shedding light on an impossibly dark world. He honed in on his bravery at that turning point in his young life, not ready to grasp the reality of the profound loss he endured. I knew he’d delight in a question that made him an author because I am an author. It was a way to subtly reinforce our bond.
When I asked him the same question one year later, he reflected on the courage he displayed, but his Spidey sense also detected feelings of anger and sadness. It was telling. Grief had settled in at that point.” ― Jodi Meltzer, the author of “When You Lived in My Belly” and “Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are”
10. “What do we think the family pet does and thinks about all day when we are gone?”
“As we sat around the dinner table having our usual chat about school and work, our little dog, Maggie, made her way over to find her trove of treasures in the form of crumbs the kids always managed to leave under the table. ‘You kids make Maggie so happy with your messes,’ I told them, shaking my head. ‘Well, that’s good, I bet she misses us all day,’ my thoughtful 8-year-old-replied. I prompted a conversation by asking, ‘What do we think she does and thinks about all day when we’re gone?’
My 8-year-old son said, ‘I bet she just sleeps and wishes she could chase cats!’
My 5-year-old’s response was, ’I bet she sleeps and dreams of milk!”
‘Milk?’ I asked
‘Yes, because I have cereal at breakfast and she always stares at me. I bet she dreams about the leftover milk all day!’
I guess we will never know.” ― CJ, a mom of two and @mom_tho on Twitter
11. “What’s a friend?”
“We moved over the summer, and my then-4-year-old son Charlie was asking about friends in our new neighborhood. So we started a discussion on friendship. I asked him, ‘What’s a friend?’ He answered, ‘A kid that likes to play. They would ask me my name and tell me my name is a good name.’ I said, ‘That sounds like a good friend! What makes you a good friend?’ Charlie replied, ‘I like my friends. Because I be good in my heart. I’m a good friend. Maybe, like, just, like, a little bad.’ I appreciated his transparency and honesty!” ― Jillian, a mom of two and @mommeh_dearest in Twitter
12. “What worries you about the world?”
“When my four sons were little, a grandmother figure in their lives asked my 6-year-old, who was a very sensitive, gentle soul at the time, ‘What worries you about the world?’ Rather than give one simple response, he told her he was worried about people getting cancer, he was worried about dolphins getting caught up in plastic, he was worried about bushfires and he was worried that some kids were mean to others. Out of the mouths of babes!” ― Maggie Dent, a parenting author and host of the ABC Australia’s “Parental As Anything” podcast
13. “What is one thing you wish your parents would stop doing?”
“I asked my 3-year-old and 5-year-old this question. The 3-year-old said, ‘Stop digging in your nose!’ The 5-year-old said, ‘Stop looking at your phone.’” ― Mina London, a mom of two and the author of the children’s picture book “Dancing On The Moon”
14. “What do you think Mommy wants to be when she grows up?”
“My 4-year-old’s answer to this question was an astronaut. Because the pressure wasn’t all on him ― the question was about me ― it seemed to really help him open up to talk about other professions beyond police officers and firefighters. It also helps to open a discussion about how all genders can do all professions.” ― Linda Fruits, a mom of two and @fruitsofmotherhood on Instagram
“I asked my 6-year-old, ‘What do you think you will be really good at when you are older?’ He told me, ‘Telling people what to do; you’re old and you do it all the time.’”
15. “What would you do if you were in charge of the whole world?”
“I asked my daughter, age 5, this and she said, ‘Everyone would eat spaghetti, live in a unicorn house and have a pet lizard.’ I also asked her what sort of rules her world would have, and she said, ’No kicking, fighting, hitting and no switching lizards.” ― Marissa P., a mom of one and @michimama75 on Twitter
16. “What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
“I noticed my daughter was spending a long time staring at herself in the mirror, so I decided I’d ask, ‘What do you see when you look at your reflection?’ Tears formed in her eyes and after a prolonged pause, she said, ‘When I look at myself, all I see is brown. Brown hair, brown eyes, brown skin. Brown, brown, brown.’
Her answer surprised me; I was expecting something akin to disliking the way her hair was styled or how her recently missing teeth made her smile look. I was heartbroken for my normally confident little girl. My daughter is Caucasian and African American. I realized that what I had been doing to ensure that she loved and embraced every part of herself obviously wasn’t enough. We started daily affirmations, to not only work on loving and appreciating her big dark curls, sparkling brown eyes, smooth golden brown skin, beautiful face with rosy cheeks and soft pink lips, but her capable and strong body, her bright mind, fantastic sense of humor and immense kindness.
We’ve had an amazing time learning about African and African American history and culture together and seeking out ways to celebrate what we’ve learned. She’s also old enough now to really recognize and appreciate the many amazing children and women of color who have and are doing great things. That moment in the mirror was two years ago. She’s almost 8 and loves who she is. Asking a simple question that day gave her the opportunity to open up to me about something profound.” ― Kathy L., a mom of one
17. “If kids ran the world, how would it be different?”
“I asked my 9-year-old triplets, ‘If kids ran the world, how would it be different?’ My daughter, Seraphina, answered, ‘Girls don’t start wars, do they? It would be our job to make sure the boys see that fighting isn’t helping. We need to help each other and build a planet where everyone can live happily and safely. And we’d also stop grown-ups acting like they’re better than kids just because they’re older.’
Montgomery said, ‘I don’t know about other kids because we are all different. But if I ran the world, I’d change schools to be places where we choose what we study. It’s stupid to force kids to learn things we don’t like or aren’t interested in. We learn when we’re into something. I’d make gaming and coding a big part of school because tech is what makes the world go round.’
Horatio answered, ‘If kids ran the world, the first thing we’d do is to put trash cans everywhere because litter is everywhere. Animals are dying because they choke on rubbish that’s dangerous for them. Can we all stop littering please?’” ― Danusia Malina-Derben, host of “School for Mothers” podcast
18. “Do you think you’ll want to have kids or not?”
“My kids asked me about how they were as babies, and we started talking about having kids in general. That led to me asking an interesting question.
My daughter (6): ‘Having kids sounds really hard.’
Me: ‘It is, but it’s worth it. You don’t have to have kids if you don’t want to, though.’
My son (7): ‘I don’t want kids.’
My daughter: ‘Me neither.’
Me: ‘Oh really? Why? Not that I mind either way but … why?’
My son: ‘Because they’ll break all my toys and then I’ll hate them.’”
― Arianna Bradford, the author of “Shame On You: Big Truths from a Bad Mom”
19. “What’s the hardest part of having a new baby as a sibling?”
“We just had a new baby, and I asked my three older boys, ‘What’s the hardest part of having a new baby?’
9-year-old: Mom and Dad won’t let me hug it as long as I want.
6-year-old: When it spits milk on me.
4-year-old: I don’t know if I’m hurting the baby. (Aww.)”
― Trent, a dad of three and @XennDad on Twitter
20. “What do you think you will be really good at when you are older?”
“Instead of asking your kids what they want to be when they grow up, modify the question to get a more unique answer than ‘fireman’ or ‘astronaut.’ I asked my 6-year-old, ‘What do you think you will be really good at when you are older?’ He told me, ‘Telling people what to do; you’re old and you do it all the time.’” ― Alexis, a mom of two and @SatiricalMommy on Twitter
21. “If you gained the ability to talk to animals, which one would you want to talk to first, and what would you ask them?”
“My 9-year-old said, ‘Dogs. I’d ask them what the panting is all about. I know we think it’s about cooling down, but maybe it’s just cool to breathe through your mouth.’” ― Slade Wentworth, a dad of two and creator of The Dad Briefs on Twitter
Responses have been edited for clarity and style.