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Opinion | My Favorite Parenting Stories of 2021 – The New York Times

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Jessica Grose

Opinion Writer
To ring in 2022, I’ve collected my favorite parenting articles from the past year, stories that shine light on the highs and lows of another weird one. These are offered in no particular order, and this is in no way a complete list: My brain feels fully broken at this point, so I’m sure there are many excellent articles that I forgot.
I found myself particularly drawn to coverage of two topics that helped explain the state we are in: education and misinformation. Even reading some of those articles could be daunting, but it wasn’t all a bummer this year, I promise. I also found myself looking for stories that offered solutions to thorny, pandemic-specific parenting challenges, and others that just brought me joy or allowed me to reflect on my own parenting in helpful ways.
I love hearing from you, so please drop me a line if there are topics you’d like to hear more about in the New Year. Thank you so much for reading!
***
How We Decided to Send Our Daughter Back to School,” by Erica L. Green in The New York Times
Our children continue to experience an extraordinary disruption of their schooling, one whose full impact we won’t know for years. In February, Green, a Times correspondent who covers education and education policy, wrote about how she decided to send her first grader back to in-person school. It’s a sympathetic look at how difficult the decision-making has been for so many parents this year — even journalists who can ask all the tough questions are still worried moms and dads at the end of the day.
How One N.Y.C. Teen Navigated the Pandemic and Made It to Her Senior Year,” by Eliza Shapiro and Gabriela Bhaskar in The New York Times
Shapiro, a reporter, and Bhaskar, a photographer, followed a New York City high schooler named Genesis Duran from March to October, and produced an intimate look at how she navigated her own learning while also helping her younger sister with remote school in the spring, and how she came back to school in the fall looking hopefully toward the future.
A QAnon con: How the viral Wayfair sex trafficking lie hurt real kids,” by Jessica Contrera in The Washington Post
A nasty bit of misinfo that spread across the internet was that the furniture company Wayfair was involved in trafficking children and teenagers. Posts repeating the falsehood named specific individuals who were at the time safe at home, but whose lives were still upended as a result. On the human cost of the viral lie, Contrera wrote: “Hundreds of thousands of people wanted to help these children when they believed they were victims of sex trafficking. When it turned out that they were victims of a viral hoax, the kids and their families were left to face the wreckage alone.”
Covid vaccines for children are coming. So is misinformation,” by Brandy Zadrozny in NBC News
Zadrozny, a senior reporter for NBC News who is one of my favorite writers on misinformation, warned about the virality of Covid vaccine misinformation once the shot was authorized for children 5 to 11 in October. I share the concern expressed by pediatricians in this article: Covid vaccine misinformation could create more skepticism of longstanding childhood vaccines. We really don’t need more measles outbreaks in the world.
What does child care look like when it works?,” by Chabeli Carrazana in The 19th
I’ve reported on the ways in which child care is not working for American parents. I’m always looking for silver linings, though, and I loved reading this report about a child-care provider in Chattanooga, Tenn., that has been running for 150 years. The Chambliss Center for Children could be a model for other centers across the country, with its focus on economic sustainability: It operates two thrift stores whose proceeds help subsidize care, and parents are charged based on income.
For Black Moms, Childbirth Is More Dangerous and More Expensive — but Solutions Exist,” By Taayoo Murray in Parents
For a country that spends as much on health care as the United States, the maternal mortality rate for Black women, which in 2019 was 2.5 times the rate for white women and 3.5 times the rate for Hispanic women, is unconscionable. Murray explains that consistent insurance coverage during pregnancy and comprehensive postpartum care are keys to reducing this unreasonably high level of death.
I Spent Last Christmas With Carmela Soprano and I Miss Her Already,” Lydia Kiesling in Romper
Romper has had some great parenting essays lately, and Kiesling is one of my favorite writers on just about anything. Here, she writes about how she found the dysfunction of “The Sopranos” oddly comforting in the pandemic. “During the last, very bad, fall and winter, this show was often the only truly adult thing I had to look forward to. Hearing the voices of Tony and Carmela, Dr. Melfi and Christopher and Adriana was a sign I had gotten through another day of online kindergarten supervision, the gruesome bedtime gauntlet of under-stimulated children, and whatever freelance thing I tried to knock out bleary-eyed with a glass of wine while the children were still yelling in their beds.”
Who Is Jellycat Really For?” by Carla Ciccone in Romper
The first stuffed animal my older daughter took everywhere with her was a Jellycat brand owl, which used to be the softest thing any of us ever touched but is now matted and stiff from nearly a decade of snugs. This charming article explains the appeal of Jellycat toys, not just for the pipsqueak set, but for their parents, too. Ciccone thinks the company is deliberately appealing to the aesthetic of millennials like me: “It’s hard to imagine my 2-year-old gravitating toward a pair of olives on a wee branch, each with its own pair of tiny legs and satisfied grin; an espresso cup full of a bold brew sitting on sturdy little corduroy legs; or a smiling piece of sushi.”
Parenting can be a grind. Let’s celebrate the tiny victories.
It’s funny the things your children remember. Mine don’t remember elaborate birthdays or vacations to exotic locales, but they remember getting out of the bath to a warm towel. We made a game of it. The kids would send me a message on their walkie-talkies when they were ready to get out and I’d hand-deliver a very toasty towel that had been spinning in the dryer on standby.
— LaVonne Roberts, Lenox, Mass.
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