If you are looking for some excellent advice and a beautiful perspective on raising kids in a blended modern family, look no further than
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade's wonderful quotes about parenting their own children.
The former Miami Heat star has
three children from previous relationships, 18-year-old son Zaire, 13-year-old daughter Zaya, and 6-year-old son Xavier. He also has custody of his 18-year-old nephew Dahveon. In November 2018, Wade and Union welcomed their daughter Kaavia via surrogate. Together, it's clear that Wade and Union are deeply committed to raising their blended family together to be strong, happy, and connected.
Wade and Union have been particularly open about ensuring their daughter Zaya, who
came out as transgender earlier this year, is supported her at every turn. Which is super important considering Zaya has actually known she was transgender for most of her life, as Wade told Good Morning America in February. "She's known it for nine years. She's known since she was 3 years old," he said. "Along this way, we've asked questions and we've learned. But she's known."
Both Wade and Union have been incredibly vocal not just in their support of all of their children but in their delight at the people they are raising. Here's a look at some of their best quotes about parenting thus far:
1 On Learning From Your Kids Andrew Toth/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Wade admitted to
Good Morning America in February that he and Union don't have all the answers when it comes to raising a transgender child, which is why he's learning from Zaya as she grows up.
"When I say we're learning from our 12-year-old, we're literally learning from our child," he told
Good Morning America. "So the biggest thing is have an open mind. Go out and research, ask your child, ask other people questions about this, because this conversation is real."
"Our 12-year-old deals with this. This is her life every day. This is no game to us," he added. "We're about protecting her heart, we're about protecting her joy, and to do that we have to support."
2 On Giving Yourself "Permission To Be Human"
After Union and Wade welcomed daughter Kaavia via surrogate in November 2018, she sat down with
Parents to talk about giving herself "permission to be human."
"An upside of being 46 and having been a stepparent is I give myself permission to be human," Union told
Parents. "When I need a minute to return emails or cry or mindlessly scroll social media, I’ll take it. I’m not trying to be a perfect parent."
"I’m okay with life not being balanced," she added. "I'm not hitting it out of the park in every area. There are times I should be studying lines, but I’m playing with my baby and I’m enjoying it."
3 On Supporting One Another
In April 2019,
Zaya attended her first pride parade in Miami with Union and her big brother, Zaire. At the time, Zaya had not yet come out as transgender, but already Wade was being supportive.
"I don’t really talk about it much because it’s Zion’s story to tell. I think as a family,
we should support each other. That’s our job," Wade told Variety in June 2019. "And my job as a father is to facilitate their lives and to support them and be behind them in whatever they want to do." 4 On Being Proud
When Zaya joined Wade and Union at the Truth Awards in March earlier this year, her
father posted a beautiful shot of her on Instagram with a caption that read: "Everyone allow her to re-introduce herself her name is Zaya Wade! Last night was Zaya’s first red carpet and we couldn’t have been prouder of how she handled the questions that were asked of her."
"She has emerged as one of the young faces and voices for the LGBTQ+ community," he added.
5 On Loving And Supporting Your Kids Michael Reaves/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
While the rest of the world might be impressed with how Union and Wade are raising their kids, the actress doesn't think they're doing anything "revolutionary." As she told
Variety in a recent interview, they've been encouraged by all the support they've received for Zaya, even if it often comes with hate.
"With all of the love comes the hate too," Union told
Variety in May. "It’s watching the love handle the hate that has been encouraging. We’re just loving and accepting our kids, which is not revolutionary. To some people it’s nuts."
"I’m not standing on my own. The cavalry is arriving, and they are unafraid to stand in their truth and not be compromising when we look at right and wrong," she added.
6 On Being A Father First Icon Sports Wire/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Wade has enjoyed an amazing career as a professional basketball player, but he made it clear in a 2011 ESPN interview that being a
dad is his most important role.
"I love it. I love being a dad," he told ESPN at the time. "Fatherhood is the best thing that could happen to me, and I’m just glad I can share my voice."
7 On Loving Your Kids For Who They Are
During a recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Union said she and Wade are focused on raising their kids to be individuals, not just
mini versions of themselves.
"To us, it’s a little odd to get any kind of recognition for doing what you’re supposed to do, which is love and accept and embrace your kids," she told DeGeneres. "Unfortunately, there are so many people who just don’t. There are so many people who really truly feel like their kids are disposable and if they’re not perfect images of them, they’re not interested. It’s heartbreaking."
"We’re doing what is natural to us, which is loving her," she added. "We just want happy, healthy, compassionate kids, so we try to lead with that."
8 On Letting Go Of Old Expectations
In an essay for
Time, Union and Wade confronted some of their old ideals about how they wanted to raise their kids. And how loving Zaya changed all of that for both of them.
"Identity isn’t a desire or a wish: it’s more a matter of our understanding and making the necessary adjustments to ensure someone is celebrated for being their authentic and true selves," the wrote. "We love our child and would do anything to make sure she has the best possibilities to succeed in life, to have happiness and joy. We see that in Zaya. We see joy in her. And that makes us feel so amazing."
9 On Being Inspired By Your Kids
In honor of Zaya's 13th birthday,
Wade penned a touching tribute to his daughter on Instagram and shared how her watching her be true to herself "one of the greatest gifts" he's even been given.
"I’ve woken up every day this week with low energy and not a lot of faith in people," he wrote on Instagram on May 29, four days after a white police officer
pinned down a black man named George Floyd with his knee on his neck until Floyd lost consciousness and later died, sparking protests across the nation. "But waking up and watching you smile, watching you walk in your truth and live your life your way is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been able to experience in my life."
"In a world where the color of your skin is deemed a threat you continue to be the bravest person I know and I’m gonna stand by your side until there isn’t anymore standing left to do," he continued. "I love you more than words can articulate. I hope you feel all of my love today and everyday of your life. You’re Bold, You’re courageous, You are Zaya."
10 On Being A "Great Example"
May interview with Romper, Union spoke about setting good examples for your kids but also allowing them to be themselves. "You can try to create them in your image, even if you are their stepmom," she told Romper. "And the more that they reflect you back onto you, the more you feel like you're doing a good job."
"All you can be is a great example," Union added. "They don't need to be your mini-yous."