Nick Cannon now has 12 children. Why are we so bothered?
Surprise! Or maybe not — Nick Cannon welcomed his twelfth child on December 14, model Alyssa Scott revealed on Thursday.
“My sweet girl, I have my surprise!!” Scott wrote in the caption of an emotional video a year after the death of her son Zen. “We love you Halo Marie Cannon!”
Cannon, an actor, musician, and TV host, has made headlines for having multiple babies with different women in a short span of time, which he says is “no coincidence.” Each pregnancy was planned and intended, and his relationships with his children’s mothers are healthy and amicable, says Cannon. However, his decision to father those children was treated as comedic fodder and sparked a plethora of concerns.
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Non-traditional families exist all around us every day. But when it comes to a celebrity like Cannon, we tend to judge them harder. Everyone has something to say, including fans, critics, and even fellow stars like Vivica A. Fox (“I don’t like it,” she said in August. “First of all, starting black families requires a strong father figure.”)
“The public loves speaking their minds because it makes them feel part of the story,” said Donna Rockwell, clinical psychologist, CEO and founder of Already Famous. “When we see behavior outside of the norm in celebrity lives, we shake our heads, judge… and write it off as a ‘typical’ claim to fame.”
But does that justify our judgments?
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Is there a problem with Nick Cannon’s take on fatherhood?
When asked about his emotional involvement as a father, Cannon has insisted, “If I’m not physically in the same city with my kids, I’ll talk to them before they go to school, on FaceTime and stuff like that. And when I’m there, I drive my kids to school and make sure I pick them up.”
A quick scroll through his Instagram page reveals the love and pride he has for his children, and many of the mothers have praised Cannon’s presence.
This fixation on his family does not surprise Rockwell. Any time someone publicly deviates from the norm about how many children to have from different households, “we as the public get stuck on every detail” and treat it as gossip.
Aside from being unconventional, some experts worry that this dynamic is detrimental. With his 10 children ages 11 and younger living in different households, many wonder how Cannon can be there for each child physically and emotionally.
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Barbara La Pointe, a relationship coach who deals primarily with families divorce and separation, fears the Wild ‘n Out host is “unknowingly leaving behind a legacy of generational trauma.” Although Cannon’s approach to fatherhood is less explored, studies have shown that a child’s emotional well-being is affected by a secure relationship with their parents and the quality of that relationship.
In addition, relationship strategist Zakiya Knighten worries about his children’s mothers, who, while entering into these relationships voluntarily, may also face higher levels of stress and mental health issues. In a now-deleted Instagram story, one of Cannon’s partners said she had been up for three days caring for her baby and took to social media to take questions about Cannon’s whereabouts.
Are we too judgmental of Nick Cannon?
Contrary to popular belief, Cannon isn’t the first celebrity to father multiple children with different women. Actor Clint Eastwood is said to have 8 known children with 6 different women, his daughter has told The Sunday Times. Similarly, Elon Musk has joked about “(helping) with the underpopulation crisis” with his 10 children, two with singer Grimes, two with Shivon Zilis, an executive at Musk’s Neuralink, and six with his first wife Justine Wilson.
The difference, however, is that Cannon proudly embraces his lifestyle of unconventional fatherhood, rejecting traditional monogamy and challenging even those who are skeptical.
“It’s a Eurocentric concept when you think about the idea that you’re supposed to have that one person for the rest of your life,” Cannon said in August. “I understand the institution of marriage if we get back to what it was about. … I have no property in any of the mothers. We start families in the sense that we have created a beautiful unit.”
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It’s tempting to speculate on a phenomenon that makes little sense to many. But, as Rockwell reminds us, the reality of celebrity culture is that we only get a glimpse of their personal lives. Without knowing the intimate details, we, as outsiders, will never really know how worrying — or how functional — Cannon’s family of 10 actually is.
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