Biggest Parenting Stories Of The Year
In a totally biased, non-scientific way, I have decided on the biggest parenting stories of the year. These aren't the stories that got the most clicks (Jessica Simpson may own that title) but these are the stories that had us talking in the schoolyard and online and are the ones that we may remember in years to come (unlike what's her name.)
Just like last year, we were told that parents from another country were doing it better than us; we ruminated on the impossibility of work-life balance and the shape of motherhood and we mourned the loss of innocence. And if we got it on.
The 2012 Biggest Stories in Chaos: (in no particular order):
Work-Life Balance: Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote an article for the Atlantic entitled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" and she started, or at least magnified the discussion that many of us have been having with our friends and partners. Is it possible to have it all? Is being a good parent and have a fulfilling, successful work life achievable? Other big names who inadvertently got pulled into this debate are Marissa Mayer who took over Google.com while pregnant and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook. These women are blasting taboos, choosing their schedules and discussing their choices -- this discussion is still at its earliest stages but it is really interesting.
French Parenting: Mais oui, French parenting is better than ours. They ignore their kids and they eat everything and they are polite. French mothers maintain their lives, their marriage and their vaginal walls. I wonder which country will be better parents next year. (This whole discussion was aided by Elisabeth Badinter who argued that motherhood had replaced sexism in keeping women out of the workforce.)
Attachment Parenting and Extended Breastfeeding: The infamous Time cover said it all: "Are You Mom Enough?" The startling photo of the child who looked much older than three (but was not) clamped on to his gorgeous mother had the media fixated on breaking down attachment parenting. I argued then, as I do now, that attachment parenting is not as big a trend as Time wants you to think. But, the idea that there is a perfect method of parenting is one that undermines all of us parents. I am always startled by the reaction to the idea of extended and public breastfeeding -- but the dissenters are wrong; nursing in public and nursing past the first birthday are both appropriate and healthy.
Newtown Tragedy: I think most parents clung to their children a little tighter last week after news of such an enormous loss of children. Whether or not this makes the U.S. re-examine their gun culture and treatment of the mentally ill is one thing. Knowing that life is sacred and fleeting is something that parents know and hate to be reminded of.
50 Shades of Grey: I don't know if this was a parenting trend. But whenever one book completely dominates the market as this one does, especially under the title of "mommy porn" it means something. Did the book change the way parents acted in the bedroom? I doubt it. But at least the world woke up and recognized that women who are also mothers are sexual beings -- with or without the bondage.
As I look back on the stories of the year, I am struck with how much discussion we had about the shape and definition of motherhood. It seems that we are debating, discussing and arguing about how this relative new notion of parenthood fits into our lives on an individual scale and into the world at large.
We will see what 2013 brings.
What do you think were the biggest stories of the year?
Want more chaos? Last year, I asked how you were handling the gift aftermath.