How To!

How To Crack Your Kid Like a CIA Operative

What spycraft can teach us about parenting.


Episode Notes

Every kid sneaks a cookie from the cookie jar, but Jamie’s 8 year-old daughter Simone has taken it to the next level. If you look under her pillow or in the back of her closet, you’ll find stashes of candy wrappers and other illicit items. When confronted, Simone never cracks under pressure. Jamie is worried that if this behavior isn’t stopped soon, Simone will grow up to be a “supervillain.” On this episode of How To!, we bring on Christina and Ryan Hillsberg, authors of License to Parent: How my career as a spy helped me raise resourceful, self-sufficient kids. They draw on their years of experience at the CIA to help Jamie figure out how to handle Simone’s sly behavior. Is there any way to harness it for good? Christina and Ryan give Jamie a crash course in building trust and influencing people without them realizing it.

If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Convince People to Give You Money.”

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Podcast production by Derek John and Rosemary Belson.


About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, Amanda Ripley and Carvell Wallace take on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, find the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

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