2011 was a year of kindness and controversy, victory and vehemence. As many Americans struggled to make ends meet, we witnessed many fine (and some not so fine) examples of parents at their best and worst. Here is a brief list of the top five most talked about parenting controversies.
1. By far the most controversial story of the year was the Casey Anthony verdict. Acquitted of her daughter's disappearance and subsequent death, the conclusion of the trial left us with far more questions than answers. First and foremost we wondered: what happened to the little girl, and did her mother get away with murder? Regarding her parents, we were left asking: how far will a parent go to protect their own child, would they lie to safeguard her from prison, even about the death of their own grandchild? At least for now, we are left drawing our own conclusions. Remember JonBenet Ramsey? Boy did we all get that one wrong!
2. Tiger mom Amy Chua created quite a stir regarding parenting practices with her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother . The talk shows were talking (actually arguing to be more accurate) and the internet was buzzing when Ms. Chua suggested that her strict 'Chinese' approach to parenting was essential to producing successful children. Even the Chinese community weighed in insisting that Ms. Chua's brand of parenting belonged solely to her.
3. The arrest of Stanford professor Bill Burnett and his wife Cindy for hosting a teen party where alcohol was present was also the 'talk of the town' for a while. The couple claimed they were not aware the kids partying it up in their basement were drinking. Ms. Burnett told The Today Show's Matt Lauer she was just about to serve the kids the cookies she had made when the police arrived. While the Burnett's tale may have received the most media attention, stories of similar arrests have been cropping up all over the country, all raising the question--are parent's responsible for their underage teen's behavior even if they are unaware of what their teens are doing?
4. 2011 saw a host of tragedies. Topping the list were a rash of teen suicides, reportedly prompted by cyberbullying. While the story of Massachusetts teen Megan Meier in 2007 has received the most attention, suicides in 2011 all over the US and Canada continued to make the local and regional news. The link between the stories highlighted the power and poisonous potential of social networking sites such as Facebook and Spring Form. Sexting, a related concern, also received some coverage, as parents were made aware that even 'good' boys and girls do.
5. Fifth place is reserved for Canadian baby Storm. Canadian couple Kathy Witterick and David Stocker made international news when they announced their intent to raise a 'gender neutral' child. Their social experiment which some argue is at the expense of their child has created quite a buzz. Only the immediate family members know Storm's true sex. As the videos and pictures of the baby have gone viral, one would make an argument for either sex. Your thoughts?
As we end another year of family and fun, work and play, we are left saying to ourselves, "What were these parents thinking?"
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