Raising brave, imperfect daughters, and teaching them to code

Last week I came across a tweet sharing Reshma Saujani’s TED talk, titled “Teach girls bravery, not perfection“. I immediately bookmarked it to watch with my daughter (and tweeted my plan to do that).

Saujani replied to my tweet, and asked me to let her know what my daughter thought of the talk.

So, I watched the talk on Saturday morning with my 7 year old (along with my son). Afterwards, I asked her what she thought about what Saujani said about how important it is to be brave, rather than being perfect, and how the quest for perfection is so self-defeating.

My daughter said she liked the video. I asked her to elaborate, and she commented on this talk has inspired her to try to learn to code again. She said that she stopped trying the first time around because she kept making mistakes.

I noticed this when I introduced her to coding on Code.org last year. She started off really excited to see what she could create after watching me learn front-end web development for most of last year. But she soon gave up when the exercises became trickier and she found herself making mistakes.

Since watching the talk, she’s been asking me when she can get back to learning to code. It also helps that my son has also returned to learning to code after seeing me return to Python (I’ve started at the beginning with Python 3).

Now all I need to do is pick a learning platform for her to learn with. So far, Code.org and Scratch look like good options for her.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Thoughts about my father and fatherhood on his birthday

Today would have been my Dad’s 66th birthday (I think). My father’s birthday is always a pensive day for me and I miss him a little more on these anniversaries.

On days like today, I often find myself trying to conjure up memories of what he was like as a father. I wonder how he would deal with all the little situations we encounter each day? I don’t have many clear memories of my childhood and yet I sometimes have a sense of how he would behave in random situations.

Being a father isn’t easy. We have our own personality quirks to muddle through at the same time we are learning about how to be better dads and parents to our children. There is always room to improve, to give our kids more attention, play more with them, be more present.

On one hand, it seems I can never live up to my expectations of myself as a father and on the other, I wonder if each step towards meeting them is all we can really do.

Even though I almost always feel like I am falling short of my expectations of what it is to be a good father, perhaps having those expectations is a testament to my father. He wasn’t perfect (none of us are) but he set the bar pretty high by his actions and by what he was able to do in the short time he was alive.

To say that I ask myself what my Dad would do often is an understatement. In many ways he guides my actions as a father even though he passed away years before I became a father. That makes the journey a little easier and his loss a little more meaningful.