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One man has fathered 34 children with 17 women, and is incapable of providing for their needs, in large part because he can’t provide for his own. This is the astonishing, almost incomprehensible subject of the latest edition of Iyanla: Fix My Life, “Fix My Father With 34 Children,” airing in three parts on the OWN Network.
The life that self-help guru Iyanla Vanzant is attempting to “fix” is that of Jay, a 44-year-old video producer. However, the ripple effects of his rampant and irresponsible procreation requires a “megafix” effort by Vanzant, who must deal with the lives of more than 50 others. The first part (focusing on Jay and his parents’ dysfunctional relationship) aired the weekend of September 6; the second (with several of the 17 mothers) aired this past Saturday. The final part, to air 9:00 p.m. EST/8:00 CST on Saturday, September 20, will focus on the children, who range in age from 26 to 3. (Click here to watch the first two parts.)
To say that Vanzant has her work cut out for her is a gross understatement, as the breadth and multigenerational depth of dysfunction of Jay (who thus far refuses to get a vasectomy because he intends to get married and father at least one more child), his parents and the mothers of his children is overwhelming. Jay’s choices and their consequences have sparked much commentary and conversation, including via social media. We’re choosing to address it in our blog this week because what Vanzant is trying to fix, is exactly what the Grown Zone’s mission is to prevent.
Bear in mind that Jay and many, if not most, of the women he impregnated, believe that they were committing acts of love, even though their choices and behaviors were absolutely unloving—something not lost on Jay’s older children, several of whom turned a deaf ear to his proclamations of love for them. Being in love, or the desire for love, is also how several of the mothers justified having unprotected sex with Jay, even though at least some of them knew he had fathered children with other women, impregnating several women at once. Many of them chose to believe the lie of “I love you” Jay offered over the unloving truth and consequences of his choices and their own.
Again, the extreme irresponsibility of the choices of Jay and the mothers of his children were at times mind-bogglingly incomprehensible. However, through the lens of the Grown Zone, it becomes more understandable, even though still unacceptable. Want to understand why a woman would be vulnerable to a man like Jay? Read our post, “3 Signs She’s Not A Grown Woman.” Want clues to help you recognize Jay before getting involved with him? Check out “3 Signs He’s Not A Grown Man.”
The fact that Jay and the 17 women he impregnated committed so many unloving, disrespectful and destructive acts, against themselves and others, and call it love, prompts us to repeat something we must understand and teach if we are to prevent this kind of adult-and-messy destruction: Love is about how you are being treated, not how you are being made to feel. Authentic love is healthy, and brings honor, esteem and respect to all relationships, or it is not love—even if society calls it that.
Right now, at this very moment, there are men and women making the same choices, for many of the same reasons, as Jay and the 17 women who chose to bear his children. If we don’t get serious about educating one another about healthy, authentic love, we will continue the cycle of damaged, angry men and bitter, dysfunctional women, producing daddyless daughters and fatherless sons, many of whom will be primed to repeat the cycle.
This is why it is so important to recognize the difference between adult choices and Grown decisions. It’s why we urge you to recognize and protect yourself from males like Jay, who are not Grown men, despite their age, education, occupation and family background. It’s why we differentiate between so-called “grown and sexy” women (many lacking the discernment that comes with healthy self-love) and Grown women, capable of recognizing and bypassing men like Jay.
To be sure, Vanzant is not likely to run out of lives to fix anytime soon. But that won’t make us any less committed to focusing on prevention, even as Vanzant and others focus on healing and repairing those injured by adult-and-messy choices. We hope you’ll join our efforts to help more people to learn, love and live in the Grown Zone.
Join us in October for our LIVE, interactive webinar, Ignite Your Individuality: How to Harness the Amazing Power of Your Hidden Motives!
For a FREE copy of 9 Keys To Living In The Grown Zone, click here.
Zara Green and Alfred Edmond Jr., named to Black Love Forum’s “14 Most Inspiring Black Couples” list for 2014, are co-principals of A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises, producer of The Grown Zone. Zara is a speaker/trainer & author. Alfred is an award-winning journalist and expert on business and personal finance. The couple, both “Do-Better Fanatics”, lead sessions on personal growth, self-love and resiliency, healthy relationships and “grown” decision-making at live events across the country.
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