Tia Mowry on conversations with her son, 10, about police brutality: 'It caused him a lot of anxiety'

Stacy Jackman and Megan Sims
·5-min read

If Tia Mowry is being honest — and trust us, she is — there have been times over the past year that she's lost her patience. But the mother of two, who worked on sleep training with her daughter Cairo, 2, and has helped homeschool her 9-year-old son throughout the pandemic, is learning restraint and forgiveness.

"I've been forgiving of myself when it comes to having my kids being put in front of the iPad and the iPhone — often hours will go by that they're on that tablet. And as a parent, I'm like, 'Is this good for them? Am I doing the right thing?' So I've been forgiving in that sense with this whole pandemic and trying to adjust and trying to find ways to keep them happy."

It's far from the only lesson Mowry's taken away from this experience. As an actress and entrepreneur (she's the co-founder of the supplement line Anser), Mowry's time at home increased significantly with quarantine and her family had to learn to adjust to the new reality. "When you got everybody in the household with the kids, husband, nobody's stepping away for a break, you have to learn how to talk to one another and communicate," she says.

The hardest conversations Mowry had were with her son around Black Lives Matter and police brutality. 'How do you explain that to your children? Do you explain it to your children? Do you have that talk with your children?' are all questions that Mowry and her husband Cory Hardrict had. "We thought it was important to share with our son Cree, who's almost 10 now, what's going on. We're also the parents that allowed him to watch the debates. He showed a curiosity to it, and we wanted to inform him about what was going on."

As a parent, Mowry explains, it's about balance and there's a fine line — how much do you share with him? "We have been very open and honest with him about police brutality, about what happened with George Floyd. ... For a minute, it caused him a lot of anxiety. He was like, 'Mommy, I'm scared.' Those were his exact words. Because he understands that he is Black and he understands what comes with that because we've educated him about that."

Mowry and Hardrict were sure though to let Cree know not to worry. "Mommy and daddy got this. We support you. You are safe. You are covered. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. You are going to be OK," were the encouraging words they shared that made their son feel better. Mowry and Hardrict also find solace in knowing that their son is equipped "for when someone says something not nice to him," which happened when someone told him his skin color isn't beautiful. "If you're not having these conversations with your child, and if you're not equipping them, how are they going to be able to stand on their own two feet and be able to take care of themselves?" She adds, "I, as a parent, think it's really important to inform your children about what is going on in this world because that is where you start to see change when you bring some sort of awareness. And children, in my opinion, are never too young to start doing something to help in any kind of way."

When it comes to mental health, Mowry feels similarly: the more it's talked about, the better. "Mental health is very, very important to me and I feel like this is something that we should definitely bring more awareness to, especially within the African American community and especially with women and especially with mothers," she shares. Mowry, even before the pandemic, has regularly gone to therapy and calls the appointments "extremely beneficial to just be able to release all of your thoughts, whatever you're feeling, whatever you're going through at the time." She continues, "Many times we tend to hold on to what we're feeling and thinking because we're embarrassed. ...What therapy has really, really done for me is it's taught me about boundaries. It's taught me more about myself. It's taught me to love myself more."

The Sister, Sister star also prioritizes self-care — or at least tries to. "I've locked myself in my bathroom with a glass of wine. I did do that. And let me tell you, it was so rewarding," she admits. The most helpful thing she's learned to do for herself is to ask for what she needs. "I was like, 'You know, mommy just needs some time,’" she says and did the same with her partner as well. "I feel like that's what makes a healthy unit when you're able to communicate what you need." For physical health, Mowry swears by supplements, which she believes are important for busy and hectic moms like her who tend to put their kids first and forget to focus on their own well-being.

Still, Mowry, as a self-described "social butterfly" is anxious to get back to normal. "I love being around people. I love hugging. I love picking up their energy," she says. She's also excited for her children to start socializing again. Though her children's schools have reopened at limited capacity, Cree and Cairo haven't returned yet — but Mowry will be ready when the time is right. "It's not only good for me. It's good for them," she explains. "They need to be around other kids."

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