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Best and Worst Parenting Moments of 2010
Read about the good and bad parenting moments of 2010, including the whooping cough epidemic, bullying, recalls and more
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Courtesy of Vanity Fair
Best Parenting Moments of 2010
Moms Stand Up for Their Unique Kids
From big-name celebs like Angelina Jolie who defended four-year-old daughter Shiloh's tomboy style, to bloggers like Nerdy Apple Bottom who wrote about her son choosing to dress up as Daphne from Scooby-Doo for Halloween (and other moms' nasty reactions), to Carrie Goldman who blogged about her 7-year-old daughter being bullied at school for liking Star Wars, these fierce mamas stood up for their kids' right to fly their freak flag. Goldman eventually sparked the creation of a Facebook event, "Support Star Wars and Geek Pride for Katie," attended by more than 35,000 people(!).
School Lunches Get Healthier
Culminating in President Obama signing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law in mid-December, which gave the government more authority to regulate nutritional standards for all food sold in schools, the movement to make school lunches healthier caught steam in 2010. With help from celebs like Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, Ellen Degeneres, Scarlett Johansson, and of course, Jamie Oliver's controversial televised series, Food Revolution, there are movements afoot all around the country to eliminate mystery meat once and for all.
First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign
With our Fit Generation program, we've been thrilled to participate in the national conversation about nutrition and physical activity that First Lady Michelle Obama helped to launch with her Let's Move! campaign, designed to solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. As obesity rates in America have tripled over the past three decades, and now nearly one in three American kids are overweight or obese, we're thrilled Mrs. Obama and her inspiring biceps took this on.
Kids Helping Haiti
Following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti in mid-January, we've been impressed by how involved kids have been in helping to raise money to help victims of the earthquake. From a hot chocolate stand in Puyallup, WA that raised a couple of hundred dollars to an elementary school fundraiser in Tucson, AZ that raised more than a $1,000 (by promising that school staff would kiss a frog for $500, a pig for $1,000, or a llama for $1,000!), to a 7-year-old boy in London who raised over £190,000 by getting sponsored to ride his bike around a local park. Little kids really can make a big difference; anyone else tearing up?
Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
New Openness About Miscarriage
It has long felt like a dark secret in many of our closets -- something to be embarrassed about if we'd experienced it personally, or a subject we didn't know how to broach if friends had been through it. But this year miscarriage seems to have come out of the closet, reminding society as a whole of how common, natural, and shockingly normal (albeit devastating) an occurrence it is. From former President George W. Bush's (admittedly strange) mention of helping his mother following a miscarriage to singers Pink and Mariah Carey owning up to past miscarriages when acknowledging current pregnancies, and Lisa Ling's recent admission of her feelings of failure following a miscarriage, to media coverage of singer Lily Allen's recent stillbirth, celebs speaking openly got people sharing their own stories. Our own bloggers, Denene Millner and Lexi Walters Wright, wrote eloquently about past losses; Jenny Feldon's search for words of a support for a friend suffering a miscarriage is a must-read too. It feels really good to be able to talk about it, doesn't it?
Legal Protection for Nursing Moms
As part of the health care reform bill passed by Congress in March, breastfeeding moms will be guaranteed a reasonable break time to express milk somewhere "other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public." Although there are plenty of limits to this, including not getting paid for time spent expressing milk and an exemption for companies of fewer than 50 employees if this right would "impose an undue hardship," it is progress nonetheless, and hopefully will help women like Angela Ames, a mom of two who quit her job after she was denied access to a place to pump breast milk for her newborn preemie son.
Elsewhere in encouraging breastfeeding news around the world, Taiwan announced a new law protecting moms who breastfeed in public, under all conditions. Guess we've got a ways to go on that one.
Once and for All: No Link Between Vaccines and Autism
Finally filed under "Case Closed" is the link between vaccines and autism (or lack thereof). A study published in the October issue of Pediatrics debunked one of the major myths surrounding vaccines: that the preservative thimerosal, which contains a form of mercury called ethylmercury, causes autism. Additionally, the study published in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in the British medical journal The Lancet that originally suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause symptoms associated with autism was retracted by the journal. The retraction followed a ruling in January by the General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, that Dr. Wakefield had acted unethically in conducting the research, after it was uncovered that he accepted money to find evidence of a link between the vaccine and autism, in addition to numerous other unprofessional and dishonest acts. He was eventually banned from practicing medicine in the UK.
Working Parents: Your Kids are Gonna Be Okay
In news that should help to soothe at least some of the nagging worries of working parents, a study led by the Columbia University School of Social Work recently concluded that infants of working mothers are no worse off than those of stay-at-home moms, despite past studies that found the opposite to be true. Phew!
And, for parents worried about putting their kids in daycare while they're at work, a study published in the December issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that while kids in daycare do get sicker, they're less likely to get sick in grade school because of stronger immune systems, thanks to all of that early exposure to germs. Double phew!
Olympians Can Be Pregnant Too
As knock-down tired as pregnancy makes some of us, we were astonished (and delighted!) to see Kristie Moore, a nearly-six months pregnant alternate on the Canadian Olympic curling team, appear at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Moore was only the third Olympic athlete known to be pregnant during Olympic competition -- and the first to be well into her second trimester. Swedish figure skater Magda Julin won a gold medal in figure skating at the Antwerp Games in 1920 while in her first trimester, and German skeleton racer Diana Sartor placed fourth in 2006 while nine weeks pregnant.
Pregnancy Is Hot
Demi Moore's iconic naked, pregnant Vanity Fair cover made the case, but this is the year it was confirmed: pregnancy is totally sexy (well, aside from the awesomeness that is hemorrhoids, the near-constant need to urinate, and stretch marks). From pregnant bikini contests to this hot mama-to-be's take on Beyonce's "Single Ladies", Claudia Schiffer's very pregnant and naked cover appearance on the June issue of German Vogue, Miranda Kerr's nudie belly photos in December's W magazine, these ladies remind us to rock our baby bellies proudly.
Worst Parenting Moments of 2010
Recall After Recall After Recall
With hundreds of recalls a year, alerting parents to potentially dangerous cribs, strollers, high chairs, infant formula, car seats, OTC medicines, and candy, it's hard not to wonder just what items in our homes are truly safe at this point. May's huge kid meds recall especially threw us for a loop; raise your hand if you'd recently given your kid Children's Tylenol when you heard it was recalled (yeah, us too). We're starting to wonder how so many of these flawed products make it into the stores in the first place.
Mom Sends Adopted Son Back to Russia Alone
While we'll certainly admit to wishing to be temporarily kid-free at select moments (say, smack in the middle of a day full o' tantrums), we've never actually meant it -- let alone taken action to make that happen. Not so with Torry Hansen, a mom in Tennessee who sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia, alone on a plane, accompanied by a note saying that she no longer wanted him, that he had severe psychological problems, and that the orphanage had lied about his condition. While Hansen explained that the child had started fires and threatened to burn down the house, her decision to dump the child she had committed to rearing was downright cruel and inexcusable.
Sue-Happy Sports Parents
Sure, we all want our kids to make the team, but we get that not all kids get chosen. Not so with two sets of parents who sued the Greater Toronto Hockey League for cutting their teen sons from the team, claiming irreparable psychological damage.
Also displaying not-so-sportsman-like conduct were the Little League parents who sued the manufacturer of an aluminum baseball bat used in a game where their kid got hit in the head, ultimately suffering permanent hearing loss in one ear. While their son's hearing loss is unfortunate, it seems logical that sports-related injuries are a (remote) possibility when one is, er, playing a sport.
Whooping Cough Epidemic
Filed under "Preventable Tragedies" is the outbreak of a whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic in California and major outbreaks in other states like Ohio and Michigan, due to declining immunization rates. In California alone, there were more than 7,200 cases of the highly contagious illness (spread by coughs and sneezes) reported in 2010, including ten infant deaths. DTaP vaccination is the best defense against whooping cough, including booster vaccines for adolescents and adults. Although vaccination isn't a guarantee of immunity, the boosters are especially important as the efficacy of infant vaccinations wanes with age, and older children and adults can easily pass on pertussis to infants, who are not old enough to immunized and in whom it can be deadly.
Moms Get Judgy About Nursing
We've all heard the refrain "Breast Is Best!" drummed into our mommy brains and are clear on the importance of breastfeeding. But we also recognize that for some moms, breastfeeding is an insurmountable hurdle for a variety of reasons, or -- dare we say it -- something that just doesn't feel right for them. So, while we firmly believe that nursing mothers should have greater legal protection in the workplace and just about everywhere else, we also recognize that it's not anyone else's job to make a mom feel like she's doing a bad job (most moms are expert at making themselves feel like crap, thankyouverymuch). So, to all of the on-their-high-horse women (and men) out there who have taken it upon themselves to say that breastfeeding for six months should be required by law (thanks for that brilliant nugget, Gisele!) or that Old Navy should be boycotted for producing a "formula-powered" onesie, we suggest that parenting your own kids is vastly more important (and appropriate) than policing anyone else's parenting choices.
Seriously? We were shocked at the story of chain-smoking Indonesian toddler Aldi Rizal, who at one point had a whopping four-pack-a-day habit. After a video of him chain-smoking quickly went viral, the local government stepped in, and Aldi kicked the habit during five weeks of intensive treatment with the National Commission for Child Protection. Sadly, there are plenty of other young kids who remain addicted, as Indonesia has one of the worst problems with child smokers in the world. According to government estimates, 25 percent of kids over the age of 3 have tried cigarettes and 3 percent have a regular habit.
Mel Gibson's Anger Unleashed
Not all relationships end well, even -- or maybe, especially -- when a child is involved. But actor Mel Gibson seems to have upped the dysfunction quotient a few levels during several hate- and expletive-filled rants (complete transcripts here) to his baby mama and former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, during their custody battle over daughter Lucia. Domestic violence charges against the actor are also being investigated, and the pair continues to battle in court. What a dad.
Dirty Diaper Road Rage
In a new parenting low, a dirty diaper was used as a weapon in an incident of road rage this summer, as two women got into a dispute while leaving a county fair in Pennsylvania this summer. Twenty-three-year-old Jessica Hollis reportedly initially threw a dirty diaper at the vehicle of Melanie Campbell, a 36-year-old mom with her 12-year-old twins in back. When the diaper fell short of Campbell's car, Hollis got out of her car and smeared the contents of the diaper across the back window of Campbell's car. Harris was charged with harassment; we'd like to charge her with assault with a poopy diaper.
Parents Behaving Badly on Facebook
Facebook doesn't always bring out the best in us -- but in this case we're not talking about oversharing adorable photos of our kids; instead, we'll take you from the stupid to the truly horrific. Earlier this year, a 19-year-old Florida mom used Facebook to post a photo of her 11-month-old baby "smoking" out of a bong; subsequently, the Florida Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into her parenting skills. A Michigan mom, Jennifer Petkov, used Facebook to taunt a dying 7-year-old neighbor girl, Kathleen Edward, because she was upset that the girl's grandmother hadn't responded quickly to a text from her. Petkov admitted to posting photos of Kathleen's mother, Laura Edward, who died last year at age 24 from the same degenerative brain disorder, Huntington's Disease, that afflicts Kathleen, in the arms of the Grim Reaper, as well as a picture of Kathleen in a coffin, among other heinous acts. And finally, a 22-year-old Florida mom, Alexandra V. Tobias, recently pled guilty to second degree murder for shaking her 3-month-old baby to death in January when his crying interrupted her FarmVille game. It's just a website, people.
Bullied to Death
Big names in the news this year have included Phoebe Prince, Tyler Clementi, and Billy Lucas, among several others, all of whom were teens who committed suicide in response to severe bullying. Although there have surely been schoolyard bullies for as long as there have been schools, bullying seems to reached new heights in the Internet age, with so many options for public humiliation. And while some parents have taken action against bullies, like James Jones, a 42-year-old Florida dad who threatened to kill his daughter's bullies on a school bus, we hope that greater awareness of how harmful bullying is will help more kids, adults, and schools stand up to it.