This Sunday, moms everywhere will gather with their families and rightfully, be celebrated, for all that we do. And like many moms, I will enjoy every second. But something is different this year.
This will be the first Mother’s Day after #MeToo, and the day approaches amidst the backdrop of the Bill Cosby conviction, Charlie Rose’s 27 new allegations, the Nobel Peace Prize being postponed due to a sexual harassment scandal and the revolt of Nike female employees, to name just a few. And as I look at my three boys, I can’t help but feel that as a mom, I might have a new job to do.
It’s time to tell our children that while our love is unconditional, our pride in them has conditions. Because while I could never really know, I would bet that Charlie Rose’s mother was very proud of his accomplishments. And ditto to Donald Trump’s mom.
As for the sexual harassment scandal that brought Rose down, I’m betting if his mom was alive now, it would be hard to see her son in the same light as before.
Post #MeToo, we now know that sexual misconduct is a modern, world epidemic that happens in all industries by adult men of all ages – not just during the 60s and 70s on Madison avenue.
What must their mother’s think?
It’s time for a change. And I can think of one person in a man’s life who has just the stones to do it. It’s us, their mothers. Yep, it’s time moms stepped in and sorted this out. Of course dads are welcome too… but if we are being honest, who do boys listen to better than anyone else? Yep, sorry dads…it’s moms. And who do boys and young men most want to make proud? Just watch any sporting event ever… other than God, moms mean everything. In fact, it was only a few years ago when the campaign "Security Moms" from Ogilvy Brazil took this same insight and helped stop the violence between rival Brazilian soccer fans when they placed their own mothers as security for the game. Genius.
So I’m inspired to go straight to the moms – like me – of tween and teen boys. Why? Because they will be the first generation to see the titans of so many industries fall from grace because of sexual misconduct. Because this age group is the most diverse generation and doesn’t see the same difference between genders, race and ethnicity as older generations. And maybe most of all, post Parkland, it’s this generation of both young men and women who are changing the conversation and the culture around gun safety – something that until now had been unthinkable. Parkland proves that nothing is impossible.
So to my three sons – and to all boys really – on Mother’s Day, I plan on taking a moment to have a heart to heart with them. Something like: I know you want to make me proud. Now, it’s time for me to redefine what my pride in you actually means. I will be proud when you treat women not as objects but as equals. I will be prouder still when your body of accomplishments are as pure as your love for me. And, I will be proudest when you work side by side with young women to finally change the culture from one of male entitlement to one of shared empowerment.
The future titans of industry – marketing included – will be found in this young, progressive generation. I believe they will not be scarred by sexual scandals but soar higher because both sexes are at the helm and, importantly have each other’s backs. But to get there, moms need to take a stand. And, there is no better time than this Mother’s Day to establish that if they can achieve in life without prejudice, our ultimate pride in them is theirs.
And that’s something that moms – and everyone - will all take pride in.