His daughter was hungry. He was busy. She wanted to cook some beans. He wanted her to figure out how to do it on her own. As he worked on a jigsaw puzzle, she struggled with opening the can and the can opener. She struggled and struggled and struggled. “Will you please just open the can?” she said. He wouldn’t—wanting this to be a lesson. She kept trying, he kept making suggestions (and tweeting about it) and this on and on and on and on for SIX HOURS, until she finally opened the can of baked beans.
Maybe you remember this on social media and how “Bean Dad” was rightfully criticized for totally missing the point on how to teach kids stuff. You might think that what he was doing was in line with the Daily Dad Luctor et Emergo (“I struggle and overcome”) medallion. That it’s in line with the reminder of the medallion to “let them struggle” because it will “help them grow.” That it’s in line with what we said a little while back: a child’s life should be good, not easy.
But in fact, it couldn’t be further off.
There’s a difference between being a supportive parent and being a bean dad. There’s a difference between letting your kid wrestle with difficulty so they can be better for it and letting them fumble with a can so you can tweet a story.
Yes, it’s good to let our kids figure things out for themselves. No, our job isn’t to open every can for them. Nor is it to let them struggle in the dark for six hours. Step in, show them how it’s done the first time. Start the can for them the first time. Don’t be a bean dad.