Looking back into the last decade, it’s easy to see why moms and dads are more likely to define their parenting styles as “anxious.” We’ve seemed to have left the hands-off and apron-string cutting approaches way behind. With news at our fingertips 24-hours a day and an abundance of social networking opportunities in our pockets at all times, we’ve adjusted, both negatively and positively, to the way we teach our children about the world we imagine awaits them.
Here are 8 major events that has seen us change our course, for better or for worse, in raising our kids.
1. Photo-Sharing Platforms.
We all love to show photos of our kids and Instagram seemed the perfect vehicle for our never-ending slide shows of our family time. Even celebrities jumped into the oversharing trend. But we also opened ourselves up to parent-shaming. That cute photo of your kids on the beach can turn into a pile-on for how tan they are.
A post about date night and leaving the baby with a sitter can lead to comments about when is the best time to leave your new baby. Aren’t new moms supposed to be available every couple of hours to breast-feed? Well, that’s a whole other can of worms.
2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Back when her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was published in 2011, mother and memoirist, Amy Chau, took heat for her so-called Asian approach to parenting, which was to praise achievement above all else and dole out punishment for anything less.
The fact is, Chau’s type of parenting was born out of her anxiety that her children wouldn’t be highly successful adults if they weren’t pushed ferociously to reach their full potential–an anxiety that many parents now readily acknowledge as they navigate their own kids on their paths to success.
3. Guns Aimed at Our Babies
Although school shootings were nothing new in the last decade, one incident in particular seem to galvanize parents against this most horrific act of violence–the shooting of 20 student who were under the age of 8 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
The conversation about gun violence on our campuses hasn’t stopped yet, and with lockdown drills occurring as often as fire alarm drills, it’s now deeply entrenched in our children’s school culture.
4. The Anti-Vaxx Movement.
In 2014, cases of measles spiked in clusters in California where movements to choose not to have children vaccinated against this and other childhood diseases had taken hold. The record for measles cases that year was set at 667.
This past year, a new record of more than 1200 cases was set. As the communities of unvaccinated children grow, so it seems the potential for new record setting years in the spread of measles across the United States.
5. The Backlash to Helicopter Parenting.
In Marylandm when the Meitiv’s children, ages 10 and 6, were taken into custody for walking to a nearby park alone, once in 2014 and again in 2105, a new parenting method was conceived.
Free range parenting became the antithesis to the hovering helicopter parenting movement, prompting legislation protecting parents from prosecution if they let their children walk to school or parks without adult supervision.
6. The Definition of Family is Changed.
In 2015, same-sex marriage was upheld by the United States supreme court as a right, protected by the Fourteenth Amendment in all states.
This decision also led to the recognition and legitimacy of same-sex couples as parents.
7. Emotional Labor is Recognized.
Also known as mental load or invisible work, emotional labor is the unseen burden often carried by the woman in the household.
Author Gemma Hartley wrote the powerful essay, “Women Aren’t Nags — We’re Just Fed Up” on the inequality of work in the home and mothers across the country finally felt heard.
8. Parental Leave Gets Another Look by Companies.
In 2019, JP Morgan Chase and employee Derek Rotondo settled Rotondo’s lawsuit over denied paid parental leave for $5 million. Previously, the company had only offered the leave for the primary caretaker.
Rotondo’s case started serious conversations around comprehensive parental leave policy in this country.
As we enter a new decade, new challenges and arguments around parenting, continue to barrel down on the family with breathtaking power.
Many of our children are learning remotely at home, while we watch powerful, wealthy and celebrity parents face criminal charges for using their influence and money to leverage the already considerable advantages of their own children over ours.
But, like the strong mothers and fathers we are, we’ll weather these events, just as our parents did, and our children will, as we fight for the health and dignity of all families.