For years and years, I’ve spent my mornings with Matt Lauer. The Today Show has been kind of passed down to me in a way. My Mom watched it, so I grew up with it as the background noise of our mornings and I watch with faithfulness every day. I guess that’s why the firing of Matt Lauer has thrown me for such a loop.
Let me be clear, just because he is familiar to me doesn’t mean that I in any way excuse what he’s done. But somehow it hurts. It feels like a betrayal, which of course it is for all women.
As the trail of men accused of sexual wrongdoing grows longer every day, I’ve found that it’s opened my eyes to some places in my parenting where I have to put more focus.
Both my daughter and my son will be affected by this watershed moment in American culture, as will all future generations.
And it’s about damn time.
We are finally telling the world – no, screaming at the world – that we don’t have to put up with Bob’s dirty jokes. And no, John doesn’t have the right to talk to them about what his sex life is like. The especially cannot touch us in inappropriate ways, ever.
Companies are now writing new rules of conduct to make it easier and safer for victims to come forward. People are talking, people are listening, people are finally being punished.
It’s a big change, and it’s a change that’s long overdue.
I myself have been made to feel uncomfortable at work by a man, being told every time I mentioned a headache or ailment of any sort that I must be on my period or pregnant. It’s completely unacceptable and has been taken lightly for too long.
But what about my kids?
My son will hopefully now grow up in a world where respect for women is expected and enforced in the workplace. It’s my job as his first teacher to explain just what that means.
Maybe I need to say, “stop being mean to your sister,” less and spend more time talking about what it means to treat his sister with respect (in a way that makes sense to him), and why it’s important. That his role as a man one day will often make women feel inferior if for no other reason than size. And that he should never use that as an advantage.
And my daughter… When I think of her being in any way harassed by any man, my anger meter hits the “molten hot lava” level.
She’s strong. Smart. Quick. As she is now, she would absolutely destroy anyone who dares to diminish those qualities.
But, she’s just a little girl. Our job as parents is to keep that fire in her blazing so that she’ll never fall victim to the Matt Lauer’s of the world. That she will immediately stand up to someone no matter how superior they are to her and say, “You cannot talk to me that way. Stop.”
My daughter loves to tattle on her big brother for the silliest of things (like they all do at this age) and it’s easy for me to say to dismiss her because I know how trivial her complaint is.
But what I hope to do moving forward is to show her that I hear her. I need to give her my full attention when she runs to me about something her brother may or may not have done. She’s not always going to tell me the truth at this age but at least she’ll learn that it’s safe to tell someone if you’re feeling hurt, uncomfortable, or upset.
What do you think about all these allegations that are coming out about men in positions of power? Has it ever happened to you? Have you known anyone who has experienced it?
And how, if at all, will it change the way you parent? I’d really like to hear your thoughts. As mothers, we all want our children to be safe and happy. That’s what you and I have in common above all else. I think moms have to talk about what’s going on right now. It’s truly an important conversation.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.