Surprise! Or maybe not — Nick Cannon has shared he has two more children on the way (one with Alyssa Scott and another with Abby De La Rosa). Cannon recently welcomed his tenth child, Rise Messiah Cannon, with Brittany Bell.
Cannon, an actor, musician and TV host, has been making headlines for having multiple babies with different women in a short period of time, which he has said is "no accident." Each pregnancy was planned and intentional, and his relationships with the mothers of his children are healthy and consensual, Cannon says. Yet his choice to father these children has been treated as comedic fodder while raising a plethora of concerns.
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Untraditional families exist all around us every day. But when it comes to a celebrity like Cannon, we tend to judge them more harshly. 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. "The foundation of Black families, especially a strong father figure is needed.")
"The public loves to express their opinions, because it makes them feel like part of the story," says Donna Rockwell, a clinical psychologist and CEO and founder of "Already Famous." "When we see behavior outside the norm in the lives of celebrities, we shake our heads, pass judgments… and write it off as 'typical' celebrity entitlement."
But does this make our judgments justified?
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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'm talking to them before they go to school via FaceTime and stuff. And then when I am, I'm driving my kids to school, making sure I pick them up."
A quick scroll through his Instagram page exemplifies the love and pride he holds for his kids, and many of the mothers have praised Cannon's presence.
This fixation on his family is unsurprising to Rockwell. Any time someone in the public eye behaves in a way that deviates from the norm, like having many children from different households, "we as the public hang onto every detail" and treat it as gossip.
But aside from it being unconventional, some experts worry this dynamic is detrimental. If his 10 kids, ages 11 and younger, live in different households, many wonder how Cannon can possibly be there, physically and emotionally, for each child.
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Barbara La Pointe, a relationship coach who primarily works with families dealing with divorce and separation, worries the "Wild 'n Out" host is "unconsciously creating a legacy of generational trauma." Though there is less research on Cannon's approach to fatherhood, studies have shown that a child's emotional well-being is influenced by a secure relationship with their parents, as well as by the quality of that relationship.
In addition, relationship strategist Zakiya Knighten worries for his children's mothers who, despite going into these relationships willingly, may also be at risk for higher stress levels and mental health problems. In a now-deleted Instagram story, one of Cannon's partners said she had been awake for three days taking care of their baby, raising questions on social media about Cannon's whereabouts.
Are we being too judgmental of Nick Cannon?
Contrary to popular belief, Cannon is not the first celebrity to father multiple children with different women. Actor Clint Eastwood is thought to have 8 known children with 6 different women, his daughter told The Sunday Times. Similarly, Elon Musk has joked about "(helping) 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 nonconventional fatherhood and rejects traditional monogamy, even challenging those who are skeptical.
"That's a Eurocentric concept when you think about the ideas of you're supposed to have this one person for the rest of your life," Cannon said in August. "I understand the institution of marriage if we go back to what that was about. ... I don't have ownership of any of the mothers. We create families in the sense of we created a beautiful entity."
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It's tempting to speculate about a phenomenon that makes little sense to many. But, as Rockwell reminds, the reality of celebrity culture is that we only catch a glimpse of their personal lives. Without knowing the intimate details, we as outsiders will never truly know how worrisome — or how functional — Cannon's family of 10 actually is.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nick Cannon baby No. 10 is born: Why are we so bothered?