On Saturday, Twitter user John Roderick posted a thread about his daughter, saying she told him she was hungry. When he suggested she make some baked beans, he quickly realized that she had no idea how to use a can opener, a skill he regretted never having taught her. So instead of opening the can himself, Roderick wrote that he saw an opportunity for what he called a "teaching moment."
In the thread, Roderick said he asked his daughter how she thought the can opener worked. When she asked him to just open it for her, he refused.
Roderick detailed the interaction with his daughter in the thread, which has been deleted, along with his entire Twitter account. "I said, 'The little device is designed to do one thing: open cans. Study the parts, study the can, figure out what the can-opener inventor was thinking when they tried to solve this problem.' (The can opener is also a bottle opener, but I explained that part wasn’t relevant.)"
Roderick's daughter became frustrated and said she hated him, but he didn't give in.
"I said, 'The tool is made to be pleasing but it doesn’t have any superfluous qualities. Everything that moves does so for a reason.' She said, 'I hate you.' I’m sure she believes that she does. I said, 'You understand everything except how the tool addresses the can.' She sighed."
Some readers who were following along on Twitter took issue with the fact that Roderick said they weren't going to eat anything else that day until she figured out how to open a can.
"Eventually she had it all figured out," Roderick posted. "She had the placement of the tool, she could turn the handle and the can would spin (we were down on the floor by this point), but the 'kachunk' of puncturing the lid still eluded us. We’d been at it for SIX HOURS on and off. We were hungry."
Many others applauded the dad for not stepping in but rather, giving his daughter the chance to figure it out for herself. Eventually, she did get the can open, and was elated.
"She knew this was a commonplace task and a common tool but also that this was serious business. She knows her dad, and the stock I put in these things. A more mechanically inclined kid might have figured it out in minutes. She factored the scale, but was rightfully proud."
Roderick acknowledged in the Twitter thread that his parenting method was "infuriating" but that he also knew this would be a hard-won lesson that his daughter would come to refer to throughout her life as an example of perseverance and triumph. Not everyone on social media was in agreement.
"So you taught your daughter she shouldn't ask people for help when she needs it and that doing things in the most difficult way possible is smarter than doing it efficiently," wrote one commenter. " I can see why you immediately ran to twitter to brag on yourself."
Others criticized Roderick for letting his child go hungry (with some even saying he starved his child) while she figured out the device.
"Teacher here," posted another user. "1. Kids learn best when they aren’t hungry. 2. Everyone learns differently and different approaches (eg. A guiding hand) are helpful, especially if/when someone’s struggling. 3. When a child is frustrated to the point of tears, you’ve lost your teachable moment."
Others just felt his actions were heartless and not something that would benefit his daughter.
"All you've taught her is that her father will not help her when she approaches a problem she cannot resolve," commented another person. "Regardless of whether she's hungry or tired or she hurts herself, her father will not raise a finger to help her, even a gesture as simple as guiding her hand."
Others, though, supported Roderick's teaching methods and found the story amusing.
"This was a great story told really well," said a twitter user. "Also good for you to teach your child how to problem solve, it is an essential skill far too lacking in people. Giving someone an answer never teaches them to figure out answers on their own, her life will be far easier now."