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Best and Worst Parents of 2012
From Tanning Mom to Pink to Jennifer Livingston: the moms and dads that made us cheer and jeer this year
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Pink has always had a kick-butt persona, but now she’s taken it to a whole new level as a mom. From normalizing breastfeeding by sharing gorgeous Instagram pics, to fiercely asserting her right to nurse in public, to looking hotter and making better music than ever after having a baby, we raise our glass to you, Pink.
Worst: Tanning Mom
We’re not sure which was more disturbing: the fact that leather-faced Patricia Krentcil allegedly took her 5-year-old daughter with her into a tanning booth, resulting in second-degree burns, or the fact that she can look in the mirror and still think she needs more color. Krentcil later said despite her daughter’s sunburn, she hadn’t brought her into the tanning booth, just into the room with the tanning booth inside. She promises she has since kicked the tanning habit.
Best: Jennifer Livingston
Being called out as overweight in a viewer e-mail upset TV anchor Jennifer Livingston, but what really rankled her was being called a bad role model. So the mother of two daughters turned her embarrassing moment into a chance to encourage kids who face less public but still heartwrenching bullying every day. If that’s not being a role model, we don’t know what is. Read Livingston’s exclusive essay for Parenting.com about why she decided to go public
Worst: Man Who Sued Over Ugly Baby
All babies are beautiful, right? One new dad in China begs to differ. In fact, he thought his newborn daughter was so hideous, he divorced and sued his wife for misrepresenting her contribution to the gene pool when he found out she’d had extensive plastic surgery. She might need sue back to pad the poor kid's therapy fund.
Best: Dad Who Sent Toy Train to Space
Kids are awesome for their limitless imaginations, but turns out some parents can think big too. Ron Fugelseth sent his son’s favorite toy train 18 miles above the earth in a weather balloon with an HD camera strapped on to capture the ride. After the train found its way back to land, Fugelseth created a charming video with the footage, including his son’s sweet reaction to getting his train back.
- KSEE News
Worst: Mom Who Potty-Trained at a Restaurant
Hey, we get it. Unpredictable little bladders mean having a potty within reach at all times. But that doesn’t mean you can take the commode with you wherever you go. One Utah mom was caught plopping her naked toddlers on the throne, right in the middle of a deli, which we imagine is a violation of food safety standards if not polite society.
Best: Mom Who Endured 75 Days of Labor
We all have our L&D battle stories, but this one takes the cake. After Joanna Krzysztonek, a mom in Poland, lost one of her triplets to pre-term birth, doctors had her lay almost completely upside down for two and a half months in order to hold off delivery the other two. Her babies, a boy and a girl, were born at 32 weeks—early but healthy.
- Marilyn Acosta/Flickr
Worst: Mom Who Gave Her Toddler Beer
Kids ask for all sorts of things—ponies, their own iPad, cupcake-flavored water—but that doesn’t mean you give it to them. Arizona mom Valerie Topete thought her 2-year-old son would stop reaching for the pitcher of beer on the table at a local pizza parlor if she poured some into his sippy cup and let him get a taste. Fellow patrons, who saw what was happening, stepped in and called police after the boy fell out of his high chair, possibly intoxicated.
- Mike Hoye
Best: Dad Hacks Video Game for Daughter
Mike Hoye, father to a 3-year-old daughter, didn’t appreciate how video games skew so male. After he and his daughter started playing Legend of Zelda together, in which a male hero rescues his little sister, he hacked the game to create a virtual world where girls can rescue boys too.
Worst: Deadbeat Dad of 9 Ordered Not to Have More Kids
When common sense didn’t dictate that Wisconsin’s Corey Curtis, baby daddy to 9 kids from 6 mothers, stop getting women pregnant, the law did. As a punishment for his failure to pay child support, Curtis was ordered to keep it in his pants (or use birth control) as a condition of his probation. “It’s too bad the court doesn’t have the authority to sterilize,” said the judge in the case.
Best: Lesbian Mom Barred from Boy Scouts
Jennifer Tyrrell of Ohio didn’t even really want to be den mother to her 7-year-old son’s Boy Scout troop, but no one else stepped up. She was open with local Scout leaders about the fact that she was gay, but no one cared…until a year in, she was ousted by the national organization, which bans openly gay parents (and troops). And in a true show of character—the central quality the Boy Scouts espouse—she hand-delivered a petition with more than 300,000 signatures and had a “respectful” meeting with national headquarters. She’s vowed to keep fighting.
- New York Daily News
Worst: Dad Bullies Disabled Girl With Son
How could any parent think this is okay, much less join in? Dad William Bailey of Ohio was filmed along with his son mockingly imitating the walk of his neighbor, 10-year-old Hope Holcomb, who has cerebral palsy. Although Bailey refused to comment, his wife told reporters she couldn’t fathom why Hope would take it as an insult.
Best: Mom Loses Legs Saving Kids in Tornado
Knowing a tornado was coming, Indiana mom Stephanie Decker ushered her kids to the basement and shielded them with her body. The tornado passed over her home twice, ripping the roof right off her home. While covering her kids, Decker lost one leg below the knee and the foot of the other, along with other serious injuries. Her children, meanwhile, emerged without a scratch.
Worst: Mom Hacks Kids’ Grades
Why earn your marks when your mommy can just go into your school’s computer system and change them? Pennsylvania mother Catherine Venusto set a seriously bad example for her kids when she used the computer password she obtained while working as school secretary to change her daughter’s failing grade to a medical exception, and her son’s 98 to a 99 (really?). She also logged into the system more than 100 times to snoop into the grades of other kids. She was caught and charged with computer trespass and unlawful use of a computer.
- Rick Van Beek via Facebook
Best: Dad Competes in Triathlons with Disabled Daughter
Most of us would find completing a triathlon daunting enough, but how about doing it with a child in tow? Michigan dad Rick van Beek has spent the last three years competing in races with 13-year-old daughter Madison, who has cerebral palsy and can neither walk nor talk. Why does he do it? “One of the very few things that we know she enjoys is being outside, being in the water, feeling the breeze in her hair and in her face and going over all the bumps," he says. “I am her legs and she is my heart,” the dad wrote in his blog.
- Fed-Up Dad
We’re not sure: Dad Who Shot Up Daughter’s Laptop
After Tommy Jordon’s daughter posted a whiny and disrespectful letter to her parents on Facebook, her dad decided he’d had enough. He got back by making a YouTube video response to her letter–and then shooting up her laptop. We often hear our readers lament the dying art of authoritative parenting, and we’re all for taking away computer privileges as punishment. But does a teenager—who, let’s face it, is not unusual in her desire to tell off her parents—deserve to be reprimanded in such a public, humiliating way?