These days, it can feel like no parenting news is good news. The evidence of all the poor parenting choices going on in the world right now can feel overwhelming (someone raised all those jerks in the news, after all). Which is precisely why we feel the need to celebrate every time we see the opposite. With five kids between them, Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade have been supplying us with a lot of beautiful examples of how to be a loving mom, dad, stepmother or guardian.
Many of those moments have come in the last year. Wade’s second child, Zaya, came out as transgender, and her parents’ response was one of acceptance, fierce protectiveness, and minds open to learning. At the same time, Union’s first child Kaavia, born in late 2018, has been rapidly becoming a fiesty person of her own (hence her mom’s nickname for her, Shady Baby).
We can’t forget that Zaya and Kaavia are just two of the five children Wade calls his own. There’s first-born son Zaire, who is a rising basketball star at 18. Xavier Wade, 6, was born after Wade’s brief relationship with Aja Metoyer (he and Union were on a break), and though he lives with his mom, his dad is still a part of his life. Finally, Wade has custody of his sister’s son Dahveon Morris.
Was it Union and Wade’s plan all along to create their own basketball team with this blended family? We’re not sure. But we do know that based on these parenting quotes these are some very lucky kids.
A version of this story was originally published in March 2020.
Making the Best of Strange Times
Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, and their kids have been quarantined for much of 2020 just like the rest of us. But are they moping about it? Not one bit. In fact, just this week Wade’s daughter Zaya made her TikTok debut alongside her dad, rocking some matching dyed red hair (because what else is quarantine for if not DIY dye?). And, if we do say ourselves, the pair looks fierce. Here’s to spending quality time together, even mid-pandemic.
I Got a Really Big Team
“I got a really big team!” Wade wrote of his then four kids in 2016. “I’ve always looked at being a father as God’s greatest gift… It’s nothing better than hearing these 4 call me Dad, pops, daada and uncle. I wanna thank Zaire, Dahveon, Zion and Xavier for allowing me to lead them thru life as their father. All of us have been thru a lot to stand together…but that’s a fight I’ll sign up for 7 days a week and twice on Sunday… Happy Father’s day to myself. I’ve fought hard for this day.”
That’s Zaire, 18, playing on his high school team in Miami.
A Long Journey to Surrogacy
“Every family is unique,” Union said of Kaavia’s birth. “How each family is created and comes together is special. Kaavia James Union Wade’s journey into our arms was long and at times brutal. There were heartbreaks that nearly broke us and streams of tears that turned into raging rivers. And then came Kaavia James. This is our birth journey. Thank you all for the love, support and understanding and all the people who held us up when we lost hope. Watch it with love. Watch it with hope.”
A Family Filled With Pride
Though he wasn’t at the Miami pride parade with Zaya (then Zion, pictured here) and her family, Wade sent his support via Instagram story.
“We support each other with pride,” he captioned photos from the parade. “Zion had his [sic] own cheering section today. Wish I was there to see you smile kid!”
Kaavia Tattoo Name Reveal
“TBT Goes back to that one night in China when I decided to get my daughter’s name tattooed on me. Kaavia James Union Wade! #paternityleave,” wrote Wade on Instagram, revealing his daughter’s name.
No Time for Shamers
“I’ve been chose to lead my family, not y’all,” Wade wrote when trolls criticized Zaya’s long nails in a photo. “So we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love and a smile.”
This is Zaya in 2012.
A Family Proposal
Wade revealed in his recent documentary that Zaire, Zaya, and Dahveon helped him propose to Gabrielle. “She wasn’t just marrying me, she was marrying all of this baggage…We’re all coming.”
Mom Guilt Banished
“I give myself permission to be human,” Union told Parents. “I’m not trying to be a perfect parent. I’m okay with life not being balanced. 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 girl and I’m enjoying it.”
Courage from Zaya
“First of all, you want to talk about strength and courage? My 12-year-old has way more than I have. You can learn something from your kids,” Wade said.
Be Her Best Self
“Internally, now it’s our job to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have — my wife reached out to everybody on the cast of Pose,” Wade said of his and Union’s homework on behalf of transgender Zaya. “We’re just trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”
Love Your Children as They Are
“Meet Zaya,” Union tweeted after Zaya’s coming out. “She’s compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It’s OK to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people.”
Lending Their Fame to Support LGBTQ Youth
“S/O to @yngdna for these Please Remain Inclusive & Dedicated to Equality tees!” Wade wrote of the T-shirts the family made to support Zaya and others. “We are donating 50% of the proceeds to GLSEN as well as a 50 thousand dollar donation on behalf of our family‼️”
Hitting the Mommy-Shamers
“I had to hit the mommy shamers day one,” Union told People. “I’m going to do it my way. I’m sure I’m going to make all kinds of mistakes, and when I ask for help, which I will, I would love to hear all y’all’s advice. Everybody has been on my journey of pain and anguish and trauma, and I owe it to myself to enjoy every second of my joy.”
Time for Self-Care
“Kaavia went through a phase of not napping,” Union told Parents. “I was like, ‘When do I shower or pee or live?’ So I had to get a little comfortable with her crying, which I had not been. And then I took the quickest shower of all time!”
No Mom Guilt
“I don’t have mom guilt, and I’ll tell you why,” Union said to Us Weekly. “Being able to have the job that I love and the baby that I dreamed of [is great]. I’m a better mom because I’m able to go away and do what I love,” she explained, adding, “Even if I failed miserably, I’m following my dreams… I would be less of a mother if I didn’t set out every day to try to make my dreams come true and other people’s dreams come true. So I don’t have guilt.”
Making Time for Fitness AND Kaavia
“After becoming a mom, it has definitely been much harder to find the time to work out,” Union said of her new workout program. “So, I thought why not combine the two and workout with Kaavia James? With FitOn, I can continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle, but now it’s even more fun because Kaavia James can join me!”
Kaavia the Baller
“Clearly @dwyanewade misses the game & @kaaviajames defense proves she’s ready for the NBA #NoDefenseIsTheBestDefense Mornings with the Wades,” Union captioned an Instagram of Wade playing with their daughter.
Take Your Daughter to Work, Hollywood
“When I came back from maternity leave, Jess [Alba] made sure my trailer had everything hers had so Kaav could come right to set,” Union said of her kid-friendly L.A.’s Finest set. “No one’s [on the show] had to make that crazy, crazy sacrifice of going back to work and just, like, leaving your kid. Jess was like, fuck that. I’m going to create the Hollywood that I’ve dreamed of and that I need.”
Baby’s First Red Carpet
“We gave her a stern talking to in the car,” Wade joked of bringing Kaavia to the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards.
“She loves the puffs so we gave them to her right before she got out of the car,” Union explained.
One More Time, Hushing the Mom-Shamers
“Hey guys I appreciate all the concern about kisses on the mouth and labored breathing, I am blessed enough to have a nurse here with us while at work,” she told social media trolls. “Kaav is healthy and I don’t even touch her without washing and sanitizing myself and everything and everyone that comes into contact with her… No visits with sick folk and even all of Oprah’s crew got whooping cough vaccinations and current on all vaccinations to be in our home.”
Welcome to the Party!
“Why I do what I do,” Union wrote, captioning an Instagram of Kaavia reading Union’s upcoming kids book. “Why I fight so hard. I want all our children to feel seen, respected, appreciated, and loved. Welcome To The Party available May 5th preorder your copy.”
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