Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade on Pushing Their Kids to Be Their 'Authentic Selves' (Exclusive)

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Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade are making sure their kids feel comfortable being themselves. The superstar parents are opening up about their parenting philosophies and their new children's book inspired by their baby girl.

The parents recently opened up to ET's Lauren Zima, and the pair shared how proud they are of their accomplished and adorable children -- including their 2-year-old daughter, Kaavia, as well as Wade's 19-year-old son, Zaire, 13-year-old daughter, Zaya, and 7-year-old son, Xavier.

Reflecting on their children's accomplishments and aspirations, Union said with a smile, "We cry a lot. Or, well, I cry a lot."

"We're very proud, and I think what we're most proud of is what we're trying to do with them. You know, we try to push with them, we try to push [them to be] their authentic selves," Wade shared. "We're not trying to make them wear a mask or be someone that they're not... we've done that since Zaya was three years old and we'll continue now that Kaavia is two years old."

"We really try to push them to understand that in this house, in this yard, these gates, there's freedom in here," he continued. "Because life is hard enough, you know? And we understand that, so it's our job, inside of our home, to [make sure] they feel loved, that they feel seen, that they feel heard, and they feel they can be themselves."

When it comes to their daughter, Kaavia, the precocious toddler has been showing her authentic self -- including her truly adorable and masterful use of side-eye -- since she was just a few months old. 

It earned her the nickname Shady Baby from her parents, and inspired Union and Wade's new children's book of the same name.

"When we started noticing that Kaavia was giving side-eye as a reaction to people not respecting her boundaries -- you know, not sharing, just general poor behavior -- we were like, 'There's something there and this could be the impetus of a great children's book where we turn side-eye into this super power," Union recalled.

"Oftentimes, we are looking at the reaction to something rather than the initial offense. So we want to be able to turn that reaction into, 'This is a good thing, this is what acknowledging and assessing poor behavior is,'" she continued. "The we can set about gently correcting. And so you're positioning these young Black girls and the friends, you're empowering everyone to make gentle corrections, and then you lean into how good accountability feels and receiving corrections. It's a positive thing."

"I think some of the greatest TV shows we've ever seen, some of the greatest books that we read, [they are about], what lessons you can pull out of that," Wade added. "Whether you're two or whether you're 39."

Union and Wade's illustrated children's book, Shady Baby, hits shelves May 18.

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