1. The federal election
An election is always a good excuse to get kids talking about both national and international issues. And the fact that there’s now a prime minister on Parliament Hill who obviously enjoys kids, loves Star Wars and is open to a variety of conversations makes it that much easier to address some of the more pressing issues with your kids. The Trudeaus, the Obamas and even Will and Kate are showing the world what modern parenting looks like.
2. Transgender kids found their voices—with parents by their side
Only a few short years ago, this was a subject that wouldn’t have been openly discussed, but 2015 marked the year when kids proudly and publicly talked about their gender identities in the news. They started to openly fight for their rights and shed light on what it was like to grow up feeling like they were living in the wrong bodies. All hail these inspiring little trailblazers.
3. Canada opened its doors to Syrian refugees
As Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame) once said, when it comes to tragic or terrifying news stories on TV, always “look for the helpers.” Well, look no further than the many thousands of Canadians who offered to help Syrian refugees. Whether it was through sponsorship, donations or government pressure, Canada opened its doors to some of the world’s most vulnerable families. The crisis has given us a chance to show our kids what empathy looks like in action.
4. “Divorce” was no longer a scary word
Perhaps we have Gwyneth Paltrow and her “conscious uncoupling” to thank, but I believe there’s a sizable shift in North America as to how divorce is handled and discussed. People are searching for creative new solutions to keep their families intact. Those giddy “divorce selfies” that made the news this year? It may not be a brief trend after all.
5. Toy stores began to dismantle the “boys” and “girls” divide
Toys “R” Us and the Walt Disney websites have eliminated sections that once separated traditional “boys’ toys” from those considered more appropriate for girls. Now, when you log on, you can pick from a variety of categories, such as crafts, action figures and dolls. Whether we want to admit it or not, toys reinforce gender stereotypes and inform the way our kids view the world. By removing gender from toy selection, we’re teaching our girls that it’s OK to be curious about science and our boys that it’s OK to ask for dolls on their birthday.
6. The bat flip
Even if you don’t live in Toronto, the Blue Jays’ playoff run gave the entire country something to stand united about. Jose Bautista’s now-infamous bat flip became the symbol of those wild few weeks in the fall. With the simple flip of a wrist, this baseball star showed both kids and parents alike that it’s OK to openly celebrate life’s highlights.
7. Cheeky parents on social media
When the mom of toddler twins posted a photo of her kids in a stroller with answers to the most common (not to mention annoying) questions she gets asked on a regular basis, the Internet went crazy. She is just one of many parents who took to social media to vent frustrations, show their humour or share their stories. And whether they’re tackling sexism or stupid questions, parodying songs or just highlighting the ironies of parenting, we can laugh alongside them.
8. The hidden value of screen time
Yes, yelling over screen time definitely takes away from the quality of many days. But let’s be honest, screens make parenting a little bit easier (and have some benefits for our kids, too). Can you imagine travelling without your kids watching a movie? How about waiting for the doctor? Or how would you get a little mommy/daddy time without Netflix? Screens have improved my kids’ spelling, engaged their imaginations and, yes, let them hang out with their friends. There are plenty of reasons to hate how screens have taken over our kids, but let’s appreciate that they’ve also made our lives as parents a little better.
9. More dads are openly talking about fatherhood
Men continue to grow, challenge and change the definition of fatherhood. Mark Zuckerberg changing a diaper is no longer a surprising admission; it’s now an expectation. We’re seeing more famous dads in mainstream media take on “daddy duty”—think Zuckerberg and Ashton Kutcher.
10. Spending time with our own kids
For me, the best thing about parenting this year has left five pairs of stinky socks on my TV room carpet. Their breakfast bowls are littered all over the house, and they’ve grown more than a cumulative foot this year. My kids continue to own me, my time, my bank account and my thoughts—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The greatest reason to be a parent in 2015 was, as always, the kids.