Successful co-parenting is work! While I'm admittedly entertained by a little celebrity messiness from time to time, one thing I believe we should take away from singer Ciara and her child's father, Mr. Nayvadius Wilburn's, legal drama is that whether you're happily married and working on baby number three or seven months pregnant and wondering why your ovaries didn’t take THAT day off, co-parenting on its best day is difficult.
On its worst day, it can be just plain painful.
As much as we’d all love to take a trip down messy memory lane about Future’s questionable fatherhood record or Ciara’s debatable dating choices, the fact of the matter is that Future Jr. is here now in the middle of all this. And like all children, he deserves parents who will work tirelessly to find common ground and create a nurturing childhood free from regularly scheduled drama.
Earlier today, a judge denied Ciara's request for sole custody, which means the famous parents will have to work on their struggling co-parenting relationship a little harder under their joint custody agreement.
And I will be the first to tell you that successful co-parenting is work. It’s not just about being on the same page about curfew and taking turns going to the parent-teacher conference, but healthy co-parenting is about regularly humbling yourself, showing empathy for your co-parents’ struggles, and staying committed to providing the best for your child even when telling them they came from a cabbage patch seems like a better alternative than dealing with their mother or father.
[easy-tweet tweet="Healthy co-parenting is about regularly humbling yourself."]
Now that Ciara and Future were granted joint custody, here are a few co-parenting essentials that they (and you too) will need to keep stocked if they’re going to get through it together:
You can't think it's sexy if your child's father is talking slick to the valet or popping fly with the waitress, but then decide it's a problem when he gets in his feelings on Facebook the minute you disagree on potty training. Your child is learning to how to treat everyone from the people they pass on the street to their loved ones from your actions. Ideally, the mother or father of your child should be someone you respect, but even if they aren't acting very respectable, that doesn't mean you get to stop being an example and start acting the fool, too.
Healthy communication is just as much about learning what's better not to say as it is what to make perfectly clear. We were all raised in different households with different values and this becomes evident when you’re co-parenting with someone. What is clearly abuse to you could be a good old-fashioned arse whoopin’ to your co-parent. Even if it seems awkward or inconvenient, it’s worth having a conversation about so you both can be on the same page for your child, especially if you’re parenting in separate households. And let’s leave out the colorful anecdotes like, “That’s why you’re crazy behind is screwed up now, because you never got a damn hug.” Try to keep communication aimed at what’s best for your child, not who throws the better shade.
The first person you need to be honest with is yourself and your intentions when it comes to your co-parent. When you say, “You can’t see Jr. because you’re two hours late,” are you really thinking, “You can’t see Jr. because you’re two hours late from laying up that corny new chick you’re seeing instead of playing house with me?” You don’t have to confess your unresolved romantic feelings to your co-parent, but you should be clear with yourself about if you’re using your child as a pawn for your personal feelings, even if you aren’t doing it purposely. You should also be up front about what happens in your household. You don’t have to share every detail down to the type of detergent you’re washing school uniforms with, but you probably should share if new bae is picking up your child from school. The more healthy additions you have in your support system, the better, but your co-parent deserves to be informed about who is present their child’s life.
You can’t expect your child to make sense of things if you haven’t. You may want to keep this in mind the next time your child’s father shows up at your door in sweatpants and a fresh cut and the “What ifs” start flowing along with too much wine. The “make-up to break-up” game might be cool to you, but it can be confusing for your child, so it’s important to take a close look at the message you’re sending when it comes to interactions with your co-parent, and more importantly, how your child is receiving it.
Setting boundaries also applies to the unfortunate event that a co-parent is doing more harm to your child’s life than anything and the best thing for them is to keep their distance. Someone has to make tough decisions for your child when they’re unable to do so, and that sometimes means taking a stand in who is allowed in their lives.
Today’s parents have their hands full with deciding what to ban when it comes to social media, when in all actuality some of us need to log out ourselves. It’s all too easy to get a case of Twitter-fingers every time your child’s mother or father tests your patience, but even adults need a little reminder that what goes on-line is there forever through the magic of screen caps and a little option called, “Save As.”
Sometimes I wish all kids were born being 13-years-old. It’s easy to think your twerk videos and sex tapes will have no effect on your bundle of joy who can barely use a spoon, but what about when your pre-teen is tagged in a vid of mom dukes butt naked making her knees touch her elbows? No one is saying you can’t be an adult who engages in adult behavior, but being a parent requires a little foresight into the image you’ll be presenting to your child, and it might be good idea if it’s not your nipple piercings coming up in a Google search for his classmates to see.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a wife and mother is that parenting requires retiring your jersey from #TeamPetty. This means that even if you’ve made dinner the last ten nights in a row while your husband binged on seasons of Ray Donovan, your child can’t starve while you argue and tally up all the ways you’re a better parent. But seriously, if adulting was optional before you have kids, rest assured that it’s a requirement when someone is looking to you to figure out how to deal with life. This means that even when the world (and sometimes your mother-in-law) is working overtime to bring the inner-fool out of you, you have to take a few seconds to remember that you are someone’s role model and put the brakes on your Petty Labelle performance (at least until after bedtime).
There’s more than one way to raise a healthy child, and successful co-parenting is filled with plenty of servings of humble pie. And the most humbling realization of all is that you no longer come first. Your life is now about what’s in the best interest for your child. This where cooperation, compromise and teamwork come in. Co-parenting is about stepping up in the event your co-parent is unable to, purposely or not. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personality or own wants and needs in the process, but it does mean it’s not about being right or coming out on top if it means your child loses.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images