Teyana Taylor says her daughter Junie is her 'best friend': 'Our bond is so dope'
Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.
From her My Super Sweet 16 debut to sold-out tour dates, Teyana Taylor has lived quite a life. But the "Gonna Love Me" singer says some of her greatest lessons in life didn't come until she became a mom.
"It definitely taught me to have patience. I used to be very, very impatient with everything .. whether it was what was happening in my career, what was happening in love and in certain things that I want. Being a mom has really taught me patience," Taylor tells Yahoo Life.
Taylor has two daughters with her husband, basketball star and Dancing With the Stars champion Iman Shumpert: 6-year-old Iman, known as "Junie," and 2-year-old Rue, both of whom were famously delivered at home by their dad.
Taylor says she has always been enamored with the idea of love but admits having kids took it to a whole new level.
"Having kids really just made me further dive into my purpose," she says. "That unconditional love just hit different. It's taught me patience. My daughters have taught me to be fearless. I'm always a student, and I have no shame in that. I love being a student, I love to learn. So it's like, I'm even learning from my babies, you know? It's a certain kind of love you can't even explain."
This deep appreciation for love in its many forms aligns perfectly with Taylor's latest venture into the world of hosting and directing for Luv2SeeIt, a collaborative series with Bumble exploring love and dating as it relates to the Black experience. Taylor sees it as an opportunity to "protect Black love."
"That was a big deal for me," she notes.
The series features interviews with various celebrities sharing the lessons in love they have learned over the years. The latest episode, a Yahoo first-look exclusive, features an interview with mother and daughter Niecy and Dia Nash as they discuss the importance of getting out of their comfort zones in the world of dating. In the video, actress and comedian Niecy opens up about finding true love with a woman after years of dating men.
Taylor says her goal with the platform is to inform and enlighten others, but even she has learned something new throughout the experience.
"I think it's also an opportunity for others who may be trying to find themselves and figure out who they are and maybe need a little bit of help with that. There is definitely a lot of wisdom in the conversations because even me as the host, I'm learning a lot," says Taylor.
The Shumpert kids are not quite ready for dating talks just yet, but their mom has been very intentional about cultivating a space where her kids feel comfortable coming to her about anything.
"I will always be open ears and open arms and I'm kind of just waiting for the day that it happens. Like, I'm preparing myself to be ready to have the talk," says Taylor, emphasizing the importance of making sure children view their parents as safe spaces.
"Once your kids feel comfortable telling you any and everything and not keeping anything away from you, once it's time to have those dating conversations, she's never going to feel like she has to hide that from me. She's never gonna feel like she has to hide her liking a guy, or hide her falling in love with a guy, or hide her falling in love with a girl," she adds. "Whatever it is that Junie will want to be, she'll never feel like she has to keep anything away from me."
This acceptance-forward parenting framework extends beyond potential conversations about dating. Having an NBA player dad and superstar mom is sure to come with expected pressures to succeed, but Taylor is adamant that her kids' paths are theirs alone to carve.
"Junie don't ever have to pick up a basketball if she don't want to. She don't ever have to pick up a mic If she don't want to. That's our main thing, is making sure she's OK and she's doing what she loves and that she has that respect and that she's grounded," she says. "She gets to do whatever her little heart desires, not feeling like [she] got to be stuck doing something because it's what Mommy wants or because it's what Daddy wants. I don't ever want to be that parent that's forcing my dreams on her or who or what I feel like she should be," she says.
Respect, however, is one thing that is absolutely not up for debate."That's one thing that I'm really, really stern on," she says. "I do not play."
Taylor is also steadfast in her efforts to ensure her kids know just how lucky they are to live the life that they do. Junie has adopted her mother's capacity for giving, something Taylor is in awe of constantly.
"She's such a sweet soul. Like, we'll be outside and she's just like me: She'll see a homeless guy on the street. She's like, 'Oh my god, Mommy, can you please go to the store? Can we get some food? Can we get him an apartment?'" the proud mom shares. "And I'm not going to front — those be the moments that I live for. Like, that's what I want to instill in her, to have a great heart to be a great person."
This early-onset kindness is reflective of the open and close bond Taylor has fostered with her daughters.
"With me and Junie there's so much respect there. Like, the respect is so crazy that we don't lie to one another. She don't ever feel like she has to keep anything from me. I can give Junie one look and she knows she played herself," she says, adding that she's never had to resort to hitting or other extreme measures of discipline.
"That's what I love. I don't have to put my hands on her. Honestly, the majority of time, I really don't have to scream. But as a mom, you know, we all have our moments where we have to raise our voice a little bit. But with her our bond is so dope. Like, she's my best friend."
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