You can’t tell people how to raise their kids, but sometimes you can’t help but notice. In this era of social media over-sharing and shameless self-promotion, two parents are currently giving Kris Jenner a run for her reality stage mom crown — one is a Miami Hip Hop legend who is running a hilariously lovable Instagram account on behalf of his newborn son and the other is a former NCAA basketball player who is trying to convince the world that his sons are the future of basketball (and that he could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one).
Those lucky enough to have fathers know that no matter what they do, the good ones are going to embarrass some how, some way. DJ Khaled and LaVar Ball are both clearly just trying to maximize their blessings by using every tool at their disposal to help their families flourish long after they’re gone. But as Khaled adorably brands his newborn baby boy Asahd on social media and LaVar markets his three stand-out sons, Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo through ESPN appearances and sports blog clickbait, it’s hard not to wonder if their plans have the potential to backfire. Even as Khaled’s infant Asahd insists that critics and haters are just projecting their own daddy issues onto his blessed existence, the line between supportive dad and stage dad shouldn’t be ignored.
We all know that fame is a hell of a drug and a healthy tolerance for it can’t always be inherited. Khaled and LaVar are clearly ready for the limelight, but their kids may have totally different morals and motivations. Khaled’s social media theatrics are not harmful to society or his own brand, but they could cause irreversible damage to his son’s identity and personality if Asahd’s global brand grows as fast as he will. And while LaVar was probably the prototypical overbearing sports dad long before his sons became top prospects, the national brand he’s building on his their teenage backs may eventually burdened their development on and off the court.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where either Khaled or LaVar can sustain their current father-son promotional tour through the end of 2017. Will they have wisely laid the bricks for their children to build empowered futures with? Or are they bordering on Joe Jackson and Kris Jenner territory and throwing their offspring into the fire to keep the candles that light their own dreams aflame?
Michael struggled to shield his own kids from fame, and all but his daughter Paris have heeded his advice. Kim and Kanye, Jay and Beyoncé and Barack and Michelle are the current examples of the struggles of parenting on the global stage. But if fame is their trade, can anyone blame celebrities for training their kids in the family business?
People once shamed farmers for keeping their kids home from school to give an extra hand at home instead of giving them a leg up with an education. The same cycle exists in the families of cooks, cleaners and entrepreneurs. So are Khaled and LaVar boxing their kids in by sacrificing their anonymity and autonomy? Or is it all a matter of taste?
While most parents snoop around their kids online profiles and discourage them from boasting, Khaled and LaVar have taken control of the situation, for better or worse. But at least they care this much in the first place.
And at the end of the day, right or wrong, they are preparing their children to survive in the world the best way they know how. Khaled is blessing his son with the keys to self-promotion that have helped keep him relevant and influential for the past two decades. And LaVar is giving his sons the blueprint to the power and independence that come with creating your own brand and seeking distribution instead of sponsoring other peoples’ products.
Some people teach their kids how to make money with lemonade stands. Don’t be mad at Khaled and LaVar for making the best of they’ve been given. With or without his dad’s Big Baller branding, Lonzo Ball will be a top pick in this spring’s NBA draft and his brothers will be Division-1 recruits. And with or without his dad’s support, baby Asahd would have eventually tested the limits of the fame he inherited. It’s good that he have an experienced guardian by his side to check him when he momentarily loses his mind in front of the camera.
In case you didn’t hear it the first time, you can’t tell people how to raise their kids. But you can certainly learn from their good decisions and mistakes. It’s probably not wise for a struggling single parent to put the burden of their family’s financial future on her extra-adorable baby or super-athletic teen, but if fame is your game, you should probably equip every one around you with the tools to thrive in the spotlight.
It’s too early to tell if Khaled and LaVar are genius super-dads or misguided stage-fathers, but one sure thing is that they are positive, caring fathers who are doing their best to prepare their sons for the world they will one day leave them with. That’s a bigger blessing than any amount of fame or fortune can buy.