11 Top Parenting Stories Of 2016 That Broke Our Hearts & Gave Us Hope

2016 really did a number on all of us, what with a knock-down-drag-out presidential election, celebrity couples splitting up unexpectedly, and animals just outright losing their minds. Parents, though, were especially hard hit by this year's events. Honestly, what are you supposed tell your kids when you aren't even sure what to make of the state of the world? Unfortunately, the top parenting stories of 2016 aren't without their share of heartbreak, both on a national and international scale.

Still, 2016 had its few, bright moments. Beautiful babies were born, former favorite TV shows were revived for one last hurrah, and glass ceilings were, well, at the very least a little bit cracked. These little victories made 2016 bearable and, if anything, gave the least bit of hope as to what a better 2017 might look like.

The parenting stories below made the list for a number of reasons, be it for celebratory reasons or concerning ones. To say the least, parents everywhere were busy as ever trying to stay up-to-date with what was going on in the world, in order to prepare for something unknown, stay clear of a perceived threat, or perhaps just to find comfort in something — or someone — familiar.

Gilmore Girls & Fuller House Came Back

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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Actors Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham attend the premiere of Netflix's 'Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life' at the Regency Bruin Theatre on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Regardless as to how you felt about those final four words, Netflix's Gilmore Girls brought back your favorite mother-daughter duo for another year of reminiscing. Lorelai, Rory, and Emily reminded us how great (and difficult) motherhood can be at every age. Fuller House also revived another sweet family, bringing back all the memories and all the feels.

Zika's Impact Was Fully Realized

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AREIA, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 16: Mother Raquel holds her twin daughters Eloa (L) and Eloisa, 8 months old and both born with microcephaly, while posing in the home of grandparents of the twins on December 16, 2016 in Areia, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Mother Raquel said she contracted Zika during her pregnancy. As many of the babies born with microcephaly, believed to be linked to the Zika virus, approach or have turned one year old in the region, doctors and mothers are adapting and learning treatments to assist and calm the children. Many suffer a plethora of difficulties including vision and hearing problems with doctors now labeling the overall condition as Ôcongenital Zika syndromeÕ. Authorities have recorded thousands of cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. Microcephaly results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders. The state with the most cases is Pernambuco. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Though the most recent Zika virus outbreak started in May 2015, 2016 showed the impact of the virus, specifically in the uptick in microcephaly cases in newborns. Parents everywhere kept up to date on the virus' spread, taking precautions to keep their families safe.

Harambe & The Disney Alligator Tragedy

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ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 18: Flowers are left at a closed section of beach following the death of a 2-year-old boy who was killed by an alligator near a Walt Disney World hotel on June 18, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Lane Graves, who was visiting Disney World with his family from Nebraska, died after he was pulled into the lagoon by an alligator on Tuesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Zoo gorilla turned martyr turned meme was shot after a little boy fell into his enclosure, prompting a widespread backlash against the boy's already-traumatized mother and initiating a wider discussion on how we judge other parent's perceived missteps or actions.

In horrific and tragic news, an alligator also drowned a 2-year-old-boy, after grabbing him from the beach where his family was relaxing at a Walt Disney World hotel in Florida. Little Lane Graves' parents were forced unwillingly into the spotlight, but the public was largely respectful of their need to grieve privately. Graves was laid to rest in late June.

Luna Legend & Boomer Phelps Stole Our Hearts

Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps (L) and his fiancee Nicole Johnson (R) take a selfie with their son Boomer (C) at Hazeltine National Golf Course in Chaska, Minnesota on September 26, 2016, ahead of the 41st Ryder Cup.

Two heart-stealing celebrity babies that top our list? Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson's son Boomer and Chrissy Teigen and John Legend's daughter Luna. This year, Boomer cheered his dad on all Olympics long, rocking patriotic earmuffs, while Luna modeled Halloween's best costume picks. Looking forward to more cuteness in 2017!

Pokémon Go Got America's Kids (& Teens... & Adults) Moving

Gamers play Pokemon Go at the Quezon City Memorial Circle in Manila on August 23, 2016. A Philippine city councillor has sought to stop Pokemon Go players in government from losing 'productivity' by filing a resolution to ban the hunt for digital monsters in state offices.

With 600 million downloads, Pokemon Go was an unexpectedly popular summer trend. The interactive app got people moving, keeping players fit and (with parental parameters) pretty safe.

Brangelina's Break-up & The Heartbreaking Custody Battle

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INGLEWOOD, CA - MARCH 28: Actress Angelina Jolie hugs Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt (L) and Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (R) after winning award for Favorite Villain in 'Maleficent' during Nickelodeon's 28th Annual Kids' Choice Awards held at The Forum on March 28, 2015 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Six kids, 12 years of being together, and two years of marriage later, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt filed for divorce in September. In the proceedings, Jolie asked that Pitt have joint legal custody only, prompting longtime fans to speak out in defense of their children, who had become the unwilling focus of a drawn out battle, and in defense of Jolie's request for physical custody.

Kim Kardashian Was Robbed At Gunpoint

US reality TV star Kim Kardashian carries her daughter North West as she and her husband rapper Kanye West (back) exit a car upon their arrival at the Armenian St. James Cathedral in Jerusalem's Old City for a reported baptism ceremony of their child, on April 13, 2015.

The Kardashians were in the news plenty this year in varying, silly degrees. Kim Kardashian's robbery at gunpoint, though, was seriously scary and led many to chide the public about laughing over the attack on the mother of two. North and Saint West's mother has kept an uncharacteristically low profile since the harrowing break-in in Paris this past October.

The Syrian Civil War's Lost Children & Families

Omran Daqneesh became a symbol for the high-costs of war in Syria's Aleppo, specifically its effects on children. Though he managed to survive one of the region's many attacks, 6 million Syrian children still desperately need immediate aid, protection, and assistance to ensure their futures. Parents, too, became an important focus, as mothers who were unable to produce enough breastmilk for their hungry children and families who couldn't prove their children's births for lack of proper birth certification captured the world's attention. (Rightfully so.)

Election 2016 (& The "Little Girls" Who Tuned In)

Say what you will about the results, but 2016 brought us the first mother (and grandmother!) to be given a nomination for a major party for president. What's more, she was also the first mother and grandmother to win the popular vote. Hillary Clinton's candidacy, as her concession speech noted, served to inspire "all the little girls watching," letting them know that they could truly be capable of anything.

Hot Car Deaths

Among the sadder topics of the year, several high-profile hot car death cases —included that of Justin Ross Harris who was convicted of killing his 22-month-old toddler, Cooper, by leaving him in a hot car for several hours in 2014 — were at the forefront of the parenting discussion. Though not a new trend, cases like Harris' and several others proved a heartbreaking reality: According to an ongoing study by Jan Null from San Jose State University's Department of Meterology & Climate Science, "the number of deaths in 2016 is up from 24 children in 2015, and is not far off from the 31 deaths in 2014 [... putting] the 2016 total at 29 ... " according to Romper's own Alana Romain and NBC News.


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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Customers enter a Toys R Us in Times Square on Thanksgiving evening for early Black Friday sales on November 26, 2015 in New York City. Security has been heightened in Times Square and around the city as thousands of shoppers flock to stores for sales on the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

2016 was arguably bookended by one major story: Hatchimals. The fuzzy toy animals that hatch from eggs when cared for took the world by storm — so much so that many retailers and shops sold out within hours of every new shipment. By the week before Christmas, almost no one was selling the toy online, minus a few over-zealous resale users charging hundreds for a single item, and parents were being told that their kids would have to wait until the new year to get their hands on one.