How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the world, who are raising their own unique families and sharing their best advice and most heartfelt lessons with PEOPLE. Want to be a part of it? Email what makes your family so special to howiparent@peoplemag.com.

By Diane J. Cho
October 16, 2020 01:05 PM
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Credit: The Children's Place

Location: Los Angeles, California

Occupation: Actress, producer, influencer and co-founder of Anser Supplements

Family situation: I'm married and have two children: Cree, 9, and Cario, 2. I get a lot of support from my parents and siblings. My dad (Grandpa) loves to take the kids for the weekend, and Uncle Tahj comes over on Fridays to camp out in the backyard, swim in the pool and play video games.

Parenting “philosophy” in a sentence: Lead by example, love unconditionally, do your best while forgiving yourself.

Credit: Jack Strutz

What was your journey to having the family life you have today?

I met my husband Cory on the set of a movie we were both filming called Hollywood Horror in 1999. It was the last year of Sister, Sister and I had decided to embark on my first feature film. I wasn't really focused on boys at the time, since I was in my early 20s, juggling my career and going to school — however, while Cory and I were filming, he took a liking to me rather quickly.

Long story short, I remember my mom sitting me down and saying, "Look Tia, this guy seems really nice and you should give him a chance." That's when we started hanging out.

I remember during one of our early dates, Cory had set up a picnic — he's very romantic like that. I had on these FUBU sneakers with an orange top and black Capri pants, and he had on an Allen Iverson jersey with a big fro. That was the day he had first asked to kiss me. It was all very sweet.

The thing I value the most about our relationship is that we never follow trends. We've never followed what other people thought we should've been doing, we've always followed what was right for us.

Cory and I met in 1999, started dating in 2000 and got married in 2008. Three years later we ended up having my son Cree. My pregnancy journey wasn't easy, and I've been very open with my infertility issues, but my husband was very, very supportive. Then in 2018, I gave birth to my daughter Cairo, which was again, very challenging, but we've overcome a lot and here we are today, married for 12 years.

How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?

I love that my family has always been about tradition. We all worked hard but we always made it a point to spend quality time together. We loved squeezing on the couch, watching television and hanging out in our pajamas all day. Even though we were growing up in the spotlight, my parents always made it known that our integrity and character were the most important values to focus on.

What was most important to my parents was who we were as people: How are you treating people? Are you kind? Are you loving unconditionally? This is what I've taken into parenthood and what I am teaching my children today. It's not about fame, money or popularity, it's about character.

As humans who are all a part of one human race, we all deserve love. One of the biggest goals I have is to teach my children to love unconditionally. I also want to create as many memories as I can with my kids. The holidays are coming up and we'll definitely be hanging out all day long in our matching pajamas from The Children's Place.

What’s your favorite thing about parenting?

I love watching my children grow up. Even when I was pregnant, I loved experiencing the entire process. It's really a miracle.

They start out as a little tiny circle, then you hear their heart beat, and now they've grown into beautiful little human beings. It's so fascinating to see how they evolve, and even more fascinating to be a part of that process.

Of course, you can't control everything as a parent. Your children will grow up and be whoever they want to be, and I encourage that. But what's inspiring is when you're instilling these values and you're saying, "Say please, say thank you," or you let them know that you must treat people with kindness, and then you'll start to see them apply what you've taught them. The whole experience has given me a renewed sense of purpose and it is very fulfilling.

Credit: Jack Strutz

What’s the hardest part?

The hardest part about being a parent is the constant worrying. I always have to remind myself to let things go. You can't have control over everything, so you have to learn to trust the process.

What's the best advice you can share with new parents?

Juggling life and being a parent is one of the hardest things you'll ever do, so try your best and spend as much quality time with your kids as you can.

It's also very important to forgive yourself. Know that you will not be perfect. When you have those expectations, then you'll learn to not be so hard on yourself. There's a lot of "mom mafia" out there, but don't worry about what other people are saying. Follow what's best for you and what's right for your family.

What would you want your kids to say about you as a parent?

I would want them to know that I loved them unconditionally, and that I was a great example for them. Children learn through observation, so I would want them to say that mommy was a doer. She wanted us to work hard, and we saw mommy working hard. She wanted us to go after our dreams, and we saw mommy going after her dreams. I would want them to say that she put 110 percent into everything she did for us, and that she always did her best.