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8 Strict Rules Gabrielle Union & Dwayne Wade Follow While Raising Their Blended Family

Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock / Instagram
Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kaavia James Union Wade, Zaya Wade, Zaire Wade

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are one of the most beloved celebrity couples thanks to their openness about their family dynamic in interviews and on their social media accounts.

Wade and Union have been married since 2014, but first met in 2007, though they didn't spark romance rumors until two years later.

From his previous marriage, Wade has two children, daughter Zaya Wade, 15, and son Zaire Wade, 20. In 2013, before he married Union, Wade had another son, Xavier Zechariah Wade.

In 2018, after sharing her struggles with getting pregnant, Wade and Union welcomed their daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, 3, via surrogacy.

Navigating a blended family can be difficult, but for Union and Wade, they make sure to set guidelines and rules to make everything in their household run smoothly.

Here are 8 strict rules Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union make their kids follow.

1. Gabrielle Union doesn't allow her kids to call her a "stepparent."

During an appearance on  Glennon Doyle's "We Can Do Hard Things" podcast in November 2021, Union shared that she finds the term stepparent "very annoying."

"The stepparent label was put on me by the kids' school because you have to describe yourself: Who are you if you're not their mother? It's very annoying. It's not a word that I use," Union said.

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Union explained that after she met Wade, he was awarded full custody of his children, and she became the "additional adult in their life."

"I wanted to make sure I was consistent in their lives," Union added. "Whatever personality I was trying on that day, or whoever I was, I just needed to be consistent so they can get used to me."

2. Dwyane and Gabrielle manage their children's social media accounts.

While on the "Drew Barrymore" show in March 2022, Union opened up about how she and Wade manage their children using social media.

"We don’t do one size fits all parenting, and we certainly don’t do one size fits all about social media," she said, talking about a specific incident that happened with their son, Zaire when he was 16.

She explained that when Zaire asked to have an Instagram account, Union set it up through Wade's own account so they could manage his comments and DMs.

“Let me tell you, as much as folks were like, Euphoria’s not realistic,” Union said. “That show, Euphoria, was all up and through my child’s comments.”

She said the shocking messages were “scary” and had some advice for fellow parents: “If you can get into those DMs, try.”

For their daughter, Zaya, they already have a comment safeguard in place, "She can only see comments from people that she follows. So unless she follows you, you cannot leave a comment.”

3. They support their daughter's gender identity.

While appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," in February 2020, Wade talked about his support for his daughter, Zaya, and her decision to use she/her pronouns.

He shared that he and Union have a responsibility as "proud parents" and "proud allies" to listen to any issues their child might face, and to then provide “the best feedback that we can.”

“And that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved,” Wade continued, referring to the gender identity of their child, who was assigned male at birth, as Wade clarified for viewers.

She now uses female pronouns and goes by the name Zaya.

Wade recalled his daughter “came home and said, ‘Hey, call me Zaya, and I’m ready to take on this.' I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. You are a leader, and it’s our opportunity to allow you to be a voice.’ Right now, it’s through us because she’s 12 years old. But eventually, it will be through her.”

4. Gabrielle Union finds it's important to "love out loud" when parenting a trans teen.

In an interview with BuzzFeed in March 2022, Union said that affectionately loving Zaya "boldly and publicly" is the gold standard when it comes to her parenting.

“It’s important for us to live and love out loud," she said. "We didn’t exactly understand why [supporting Zaya’s trans identity] was a thing because it’s like, we love all our kids out loud. But it is a thing and a lot of people do need an example."

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“So yeah, we’re gonna post our family, we’re going to live out loud, we’re going to love out loud, and we’re going to speak out loud and lead in however each situation calls for us to be leaders when things are not where they should be," she added.

5. Gabrielle Union gives her children space to explore themselves.

During the same interview with BuzzFeed, Union opened up about providing parental support when it comes to her children finding who they want to be in life.

"As our children show up, it is our job to believe them when they tell us who they are and not impose our dreams, hopes, fears, and desires on them,” Union said.

"It’s our job to be loving, compassionate, protective guides for our children, but their lives are their lives and we have to respect that ... We do not believe in any kind of shaming for existing. That is bizarre, cruel, (and) harmful."

6. Gabrielle and Dwyane want their children to know they're worthy.

In an interview with People, Union and Wade shared that they are doing their best to raise their children to be the most authentic versions of themselves.

"My focus when it comes to any of my kids is to let them know who they are so that when other people's opinions about them are formed, it's not hitting them," Wade said. 

"If we allow our kids to be their true selves," he added, "we don't have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone. Why wouldn't we push our kids to be their authentic selves?"

Union added on to that sentiment, saying that she doesn't want her children "to ever shape shift for anyone else's approval or acceptance. We want them to be free to be who they are," and that "they are worthy because they exist."

7. Dwyane Wade wanted to "lead with love" as a father.

In an interview with People, Wade explained that while he was growing up he "missed structure" due to his parents' addiction problems.

When that happens, you kind of lose yourself, and lose place of what's of importance, and a lot of times, if you have kids, that should be what's of importance," Wade said. "So I missed a lot of that. I missed family. Besides my sister, I missed structure from parents."

Because of that, he uses it as a lesson on how to parent his own children. 

"I learned a lot about what I didn't want, and what I did want. [But] at the same time, I never blame. I understand that we all have our own lives. We all have our own journey," Wade said.

"My son Zaire, I'm able to tell him, 'Zaire, don't go left, go right.' My parents didn't have anybody to tell them that. They just went left, and sometimes you take a bad step and that bad step leaves you down a long road. But they found themselves back, and that's what I'm proud of."

His biggest goal is to always "lead with love."

"I want to be somebody who my kids always understand, that can adapt, and that is willing to grow and is willing to learn," he added.

8. They allow their youngest daughter to be "free."

While promoting their children's book, "Shady Baby," which was heavily inspired by Union and Wade's youngest daughter, Kaavia, they spoke about her superpower being "shade."

"Shade is her super power because when Kaavia gives you a look, it's either you're not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn't like," Union said.

"The main takeaway is that she's free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women."

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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