With recent buzz about NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade and hip hop celeb Ludacris having newborn children within weeks of each other and outside of their dedicated love relationships, many poignant topics of discussion are ablaze in our communities. While I am sure these two fathers and their significant others did not intentionally sign up to teach the class about “on-a-break” do’s and don’ts, count me grateful for their inspiring deeper thought on the subject.
Being on a break from your mate naturally implies an inherent plan to return to each other. Sometimes breaks are necessary, like summer break. Co-eds understand that they will return to school in the fall hopefully better prepared for their studies than when they left in late spring. At the very least, most try not to do anything over the break that may jeopardize or end their enrollment at the university of their choosing.
We shouldn’t speculate about Gabrielle and Eudoxie’s decisions to continue their relationships post-break with a baby on board. Despite their celebrity, these are human beings under the spells of love and with years of working things out together. The real risk for these couples and the countless, nameless others out there facing the same scenario is the open invitation of mistrust into the relationship. Sexual intimacies outside of your relationship may be a hard pill to swallow but knowing that your mate failed to chose safe sex while on a break is a far greater tragedy in today’s knowledgeable world. Losing the security of knowing that your partner has your back has the potential to permanently change the landscape of the relationship you so heavily invested in.
While all of this can be stress-inducing, nothing says, “what the hell was I thinking?” like the poor choices that cause a parent to explain things to a child that go against the very ideals and good examples we want to set for them. Both Dwyane and Ludacris seem to be loving fathers with two good women heavily involved in the lives of their children. While these pairs are used to being the objects of envy, there is nothing to envy in this situation. Many parents have experienced the hollow-stomach feeling that comes with knowing you have let your children down. Becoming the catalyst for confusion when all you strive for is to protect your children from harm of all kinds is a fail in any parents’ book.
How do our children come to make sense of our senseless acts? How does a father teach manhood in this kind of situation? How does a child understand their position in a family once they learn basic mathematics–calculating birth dates against wedding dates divided by breaks? How does a parent help a child understand why a mother is not a wife and a wife is not a mother but we are all a family with differing levels of access and connectedness to the core? These questions are not judgments, they are questions, very real questions that are searching for answers in public and private ways throughout our society.
It serves us all to talk about these difficult parenting and human experiences. Wiser people than Wade, Luda and me know that every experience is an opportunity to learn about love, to grow in character and to teach in truth. If someone is looking up to you, you are a role model. The term does not inherently symbolize modeling something good. Even if we adults choose the wrong role to play every now and then, our onlookers can still learn from us. Handling, not hiding our shortcomings will best teach our children lessons that will serve them in their future.
While the keepers of public opinion may be saying “Gimme a break” about these two “on-break” baby situations, the halls of humanity would probably echo Gabrielle Union’s tweet this week which said, “The goal is NOT perfection… The goal is to be whole.” Well said Gabby and may God bless your union.
La Shell Wooten is a NYC therapist and parent who helps families unravel challenging relationships while working everyday to keep her own relationships in balance. www.lashellwooten.com / Twitter @LaShellWooten