There are good parents. And then there are really bad parents.
In the latter category, you have the Ohio parents who overdosed on heroin in their car while their four-year-old son sat in the back.
Police pulled the ultimate parent-shaming move by snapping a photo and posting it on Facebook “to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess” and convince other drug users “to think twice about injecting… while having a child in their custody.”
Cincinnati mother Michelle Gregg faced her own share of parent shaming after her four-year-old son climbed a zoo barrier and fell into Harambe’s enclosure. Officials shot the 400-pound gorilla, who’d grabbed and dragged the boy for about 10 minutes.
Even though parenting experts stressed it was a “freak accident” that could’ve happened to anyone, that didn’t stop people from sending the mom death threats and launching a Change.org petition to look into the child’s home environment and protect him and his siblings from “further incidents of parental negligence.”
Then there’s the father of Stanford convicted rapist Brock Turner. Remember him? His dad, Dan, tried to defend his son’s “20 minutes of action.”
Fortunately, far fewer parenting fails made the news than stories of grade-A parenting.
Here are four heartwarming examples that left many inspired in 2016:
1. The mom who wrote an open letter to her ex-husband’s new girlfriend
Rather than hate or be jealous of her former partner’s new love, Audrey Nicole expressed her gratitude to her for taking care of her daughter as if she were her own.
“Why do all these moms act so spiteful and jealous towards the other women? No one said it was easy trying to be a mother to a kid you didn’t have,” she wrote.
“So when there is someone trying, don’t push them away! Because they don’t need the drama. They will leave and then you’re stuck with someone who is the evil step mom. Yes they exist! I see them everywhere!
2. The father’s morning mantra
A father-daughter duo stole hearts with a sweet bathroom routine.
Every morning, the dad makes his little girl Aaliyah Austin repeat after him:
I am strong.
I am smart.
I work hard.
I am beautiful.
I am respectful.
I’m not better than anyone.
Nobody’s better than me.
At one point he asks her: “If you fall?” to which she replies, “I get back up.”
Their adorable morning routine has racked up more than 17 million views since September.
3. The mom behind an unlikely friendship
Tara Wood was grocery shopping in Georgia a few months ago when her four-year-old Norah struck up a conversation with 82-year-old Dan Peterson.
“Hi, old person! It’s my birthday today,” the girl apparently told him before demanding a hug.
Peterson, whose wife passed away in March, was so touched by the encounter that his lip quivered “and he teared up,” Wood recalled.
She snapped a couple photos of the pair and posted them on Facebook, where someone recognized Peterson and said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen that man smile since his wife died.”
Since then, Wood has been taking her daughter to see “Mr. Dan” at least once a week.
His family says the visits have been “life changing.”
“She opened me to a love that I didn’t know existed,” he said. “If I didn’t have anything else to do the rest of my life, I have her to love.”
4. The dad who “saved” Halloween
A father who was on a flight in the U.S. with his three-year-old daughter Halloween night was called “Dad of the Year” after he took trick-or-treating to new heights.
In a note he passed out to fellow passengers, he explained his little girl was sad she was missing out on Halloween. So he asked people to help make the night special for her by handing out the treats he gave them.
“If you are willing,” he wrote, “when my little donut comes down the aisle, please drop this in her basket. You’ll be making her Halloween!”
Naturally, the plane full of travellers obliged.
5. The multi-tasking mom
This could pretty much be any mom because multi-tasking is a staple of motherhood.
Photographer Melissa Wardlow encapsulated the skill perfectly as she carried her two children — who were three and eight months old in September — and held a bottle with one hand while snapping shots of a sports team with the other.
The photo of her, captured by John F. Rhodes and shared by the Dallas Morning News, went viral.
READ MORE: How one mom balances business and motherhood
For her, though, it was “just a normal day.”
SOUND OFF: Do you know an exceptional parent who’s worthy of some recognition? Share his or her story with us through the form below:
— With files from Jenny Rodrigues and Jodi Hughes