Gabrielle Union's Note to Parents Everywhere: 'Needing Help Does Not Make You Weak'

Like all parents, actress and mom Gabrielle Union has found herself struggling during the pandemic. But she's learned her biggest parenting lessons through it.

Gabrielle Union on pattern background
Photo: Getty Images

Scrolling through actress Gabrielle Union’s Instagram feed, fans can see how the mom is spending pandemic life with her family, especially with her 2-year-old Kaavia James Union Wade. Whether it’s playing with toys, sledding in the snow, or taking fun photos with husband and dad Dwyane Wade, the Los Angeles-based family appears to be making the best of their time at home.

But Union admits pandemic parenting has been no walk in the park. Like all parents, the couple has had to find ways to adapt while also dealing with a shift to virtual learning, which also hasn’t been easy on her stepkids—Zaire, 18, Zaya, 13, and Xavier, 7.

How she’s getting through it? Trying to spend a little bit of time alone, even if that includes trips to the bathroom. “I can’t even front,” jokes Union. “I will claim a gastrointestinal issue so fast to get a little extra time.” She’s not alone in that either: A Tropicana survey conducted by Wakefield Research between October 29 and November 4 of 1,000 U.S. parents found majority say parenting has become hectic and 49 percent hide out in the bathroom to get a moment to themselves.

Aside from that, Union says she spends time listening to positive affirmations, does Zoom therapy and guided meditation, and has set much-needed boundaries. “I've had to talk to all of my business partners and just be really transparent, like, ‘I want to be my best employee for you or leader for you, but I am going to need some time for me,” she says. “Everyone has offered me that kind of compassion, that space, and that grace to do what it takes to function. And I just hope more companies and schools offer that time and that space and that grace that we all need to try to figure out how to survive in this pandemic.”

She’s also leaned on help from loved ones. “We're very lucky that we have a very large village,” says the Welcome to the Party children’s book author. During the pandemic, the couple moved both their moms into their home, along with Union’s niece and younger sister. “We all rely on each other, and we all muddle our way through. And when it gets to be too tough, we offer grace,” says Union.

Turning to her village has helped her embrace a big parenting lesson this year—that needing help is OK. “It doesn’t make you a failure,” says Union. “Needing help does not make you weak or vulnerable—it just means you need help like everybody else.”

A second big parenting lesson she learned this year? “That I don't have all the answers and that, ‘I don't know’ is a real answer that more people should embrace,” says Union. “It’s been very humbling.”

Anna Halkidis is the features editor at Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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