Today, Planned Parenthood powerhouse Cecile Richards is a seasoned mother of three. But before her kids were grown up, they had a lot of learning to do not only about life in general, but the cause their mom so vehemently supported.
And for her now-26-year-old son, some hilarious lessons started pretty early. “Daniel — who must’ve been maybe 5 or 6 at the time — he comes out of the house and he’s unrolled a condom,” Richards, 60, recalls in a segment for PEOPLE’s Celeb Parents Get Real. “He said, ‘Hey Mom, what’s this?’ “
“It was mortifying for his sisters, but it was a great teachable moment about what a condom was and why it was important, and why protection was important,” she adds. “His sisters were a little appalled. But a lot of time, embarrassing moments are teachable moments.”
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Daniel has proven himself dedicated to the cause since. When asked about a time her kids made her cry, Richards shares a story of when her son was away at college and Planned Parenthood was “under attack.”
“He texted me and said, ‘Mom, I’m getting in a big van with a bunch of kids and we’re driving to Ohio to rally for Planned Parenthood,’ ” she recalls. “That made me cry. But it was a good sign.”
Before she had her children with husband Kirk Adams — aside from Daniel, Richards and Adams share Daniel’s twin sister Hannah plus 30-year-old Lily, who herself has made impressive strides in the political realm — the Planned Parenthood president admits she learned a lot from her own mother and father about what mattered in life.
“The most important thing my dad [civil-rights lawyer David Richards] taught me was a commitment to social justice and civil rights,” she says.
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Of her mother — former Texas governor and civil-rights activist Ann Richards, who died in 2006 — Richards says the lessons were “very different, because she was a woman and I’m a woman.”
” ‘No matter what chance you have, take it,’ ” recalls Richards of the best advice her mom gave her. ” ‘Don’t look back.’ “
Explains Richards, “Too many women she saw never really took all the opportunities because they thought they didn’t have the right job skills or they didn’t know the right people, or all the reasons that women sometimes hold back. And she very much believed, ‘You only get one life. This is it. So just do it.’ “