Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Are Raising Their Kids to Know They're Worthy 'Because They Exist'

The couple is raising five children together, including their 2-year-old, Kaavia James.

Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade are doing their best to raise their children to be their most authentic selves.

"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 told PeopleThe couple has five children they raise together: Kaavia, 2; Zaire, 19; Zaya, 13; Xavier, 7 and Dahveon, 19, Wade's nephew. Zaire and Zaya are Wade's children from a previous marriage, and Xavier is the ball player's son with an ex. The two welcomed their youngest via a surrogate in 2018

"If we allow our kids to be their true selves," Wade continues, "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?"

It's a philosophy that fans have seen the Wades live up to with all their kids, especially when it comes to Kaavia, the inspiration for their upcoming children's book, Shady Baby

"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 of the toddler. "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."

The couple's older daughter, Zaya, has also been an impactful voice for authenticity since she came out as transgender last year. She's inspired her family to become prominent activists advocating for LGBTQ+ health care through their Wade Family Foundation.  

"I come from a locker room of a macho, male-dominant sport. But I started learning and I started to watch her. And from then on we started having more conversations," Wade said. 

Union explained that when Zaya came out, the actress reached out on social media to find the resources and information they would need. She said that although people responded "with love," the pair knew that they had to be realistic about the process and learning curve. She said they knew they would mess up, but "we had to learn and be led." 

It's different from how Union grew up, which she shared was to "assimilate," but that's the point. "We are raising our kids to know they are worthy because they exist," she added. "We don't want them to ever shape shift for anyone else's approval or acceptance. We want them to be free to be who they are."

"We're raising Black kids and every day in the world, they show us what we're thought of," Wade continued. "You realize you can't protect them from everything. The only thing you can do is make sure they go out into the world with all the tools they need."