Gabrielle Union says before she married Dwyane Wade, their kids were encouraging her to leave acting behind and stay home so they could operate like a “normal family.”
The star shared that experience during a conversation with Gwyneth Paltrow for The goop Podcast, stating that Wade’s children and nephew (Zaire, Zaya and Dahveon Morris) didn’t understand why she was still working when their friends’ mothers were stay-at-home moms.
“They had gotten into this stage as pre-teens where they just wanted us to be like other families,” she said. “They had looked up how much their dad made and they thought that I should not work. I should just be at home like the other moms of their friends because ‘dad is rich and you should just stay home and we should be a normal family like everyone else.’”
Union said they may have believed that because the couple wasn’t married at the time, that’s why she continued as a working actress. So when they helped Dwyane pop the question and the two married in 2014, the kids were confused when she continued to work after the fact.
“They just wanted to be normal, whatever that is,” she said. “By the time we got married, it was just I think relief for them, which isn’t always an emotion you associate with kids in this situation. And they were like, ‘We’re a normal family! Wait. You’re leaving. And dad’s still rich. What’s happening here?’”
She settled the matter by telling them she would be there for them when they needed her but also needed to have something for herself. In the words of Juanita from Baby Boy, “Mama gotta have a life, too.”
As she told them, “‘Sometimes women want to work and have a career and just do other things and this is what makes me who I am. It doesn’t mean I love you any less or I don’t want the job or I don’t love being your stepmother. I will do my best to be here for all of the things that you want me to be here [for] while at the same time, making sure that space for mom or dad is there. It is the golden seat of honor, always.’ And we just move that way.”
Union told Paltrow that being stepmom to Dwyane’s kids became the most important role for her after he obtained full custody of his kids in 2011 from ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches, back when they were just dating.
“I tried to stay in my lane and just be consistent,” she said of her role in their lives. “As I tell other women and men in this position, whoever you are, if you’re a curmudgeon, just be a curmudgeon, and then they get used to that. If you’re a pushover, just stay the pushover. Don’t try to put on personalities around them. Whoever you are, just be consistent so everyone can get used to who the hell you are really.”
She added, “be consistent — whatever that is.”