Dwyane Wade on parenting: 'Just listen to your kids'

Brian Sozzi

Similar to his playing days on the hardwood for the Miami Heat, retired NBA great Dwyane Wade finds himself taking a leadership position at a decisive moment in time.

And it’s on the topic of LGBTQ rights and how members of that community are viewed by others. It’s a community that Wade and his family are now a part of following his 12-year-old son Zion recently coming out as transgender.

“Zaya's always known she can come to me, you know? And I think that's one of the things I'm proud of as a father is that I've built an environment around my house that my kids should not be afraid to come and talk to me about real life, real issues. I'm not talking, you ain't got to tell me everything. But when it comes to things that, you know, affects you, come and sit down and talk to me and my wife,” Wade told Yahoo Finance ahead of the release of a his ESPN documentary “Life Unexpected” that airs on Feb. 23.

The documentary is an in-depth look at Wade’s rise from the tough streets of Chicago to star college basketball player at Marquette to three-time NBA champion as a member of the Miami Heat. Wade — a father to five children and husband to actress Gabrielle Union — also gives viewers an intimate look into his parenting life. Toward’s the end of the more than one-hour feature, Wade spotlights the start of Zion’s journey.

Zion now prefers to be identified as a she and goes by the name Zaya. The disclosure and openness by Wade, 37, on the topic has thrust him into the national spotlight on this important issue.

Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union-Wade acknowledge the cheers from the crowd during the second half of an NFL football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bears in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach, File)

Wade concedes that he is still learning about the subject as well. His advice to parents dealing with a similar discussion? Keep one’s mind open, listen and be as supportive as possible.

“I don't tell them anything. I mean if they want to sit down and have a conversation, I would tell them what I know as a supportive father. I'm still learning. I think the biggest thing I continue to say is like, it's OK to not know until you know. Once you know, now you can't go back,” Wade says.

Wade adds, “And it took for her to open my eyes up and mind up to that, once she found out that it's more to her than just either being gay or straight, you know? And finding like herself, you know, through research or through her friends. So I would just tell parents just to listen to your kids. Sit down and talk to them. And don't put your hopes or your fears on them.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Watch The First Trade each day here at 9:00 a.m. ET or on Verizon FIOS channel 604. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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