My new favorite piece of parenting advice: be vulnerable with your children

adassa family.jpg
Adassa smiles with five of her children on the family's backyard swing set after church.
Gabe Candiani

Sometimes as a wife and mother, I have felt the overwhelming need to take care of everything and everyone. But what about when it becomes too much? Is there any value in still trying to “keep it all together”?

And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. In fact, I felt especially seen when I found out that even award-winning Disney vocalists feel the same. On this week’s episode of the All In podcast, voice actress and singer Adassa shares an important lesson in family and vulnerability she learned just before her big Disney break came.

► You may also like: An ‘Encanto’ miracle: The faithful sacrifices that brought Adassa her dream

After her family had COVID in 2020, she became mysteriously paralyzed from the neck down. In her words, “I thought I was going to die. I literally wrote my will. … And then all of a sudden I would regain a little bit, the ability to just walk a little, and then it would just shut down. And if I tried to talk and walk at the same time, I would faint.” On one scary occasion, she nearly drowned in the bathtub because her limbs went numb and she was unable to call out for help.

But Adassa says that learning to rely on her family more, simply out of necessity, also taught her incredible trust. She would tell even her youngest children, “I really need your help and your strength to help me because Mommy can’t do this right now.” She says that admitting her weaknesses and being vulnerable with her children has helped her become a better parent. “Sometimes we dread the moments of weakness, but honestly, in the moments of weakness, we become stronger than ever.”

Amid medical tests, trying to regain her ability to move, and immense growth as a mother, Adassa’s family got a phone call. It was an offer for Adassa to voice Dolores Madrigal in the upcoming Disney film Encanto, with original music by Tony and Grammy award-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. Even though she was still sick, Adassa told her husband, Gabe, “You can call [and tell them no] if I’m dead. I’m taking this.”

The rest of Adassa’s story is history, as Encanto became an instant Disney classic. She went on to receive nominations for her work on the viral hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” And since Encanto, she has performed with the Tabernacle Choir on their recent world tour in Mexico City and released what she calls “a gratitude album” titled In Jesus We Are One.

► You may also like: ‘Encanto’ actress on her faith-filled choice to record Christian music

But the lesson she has learned—and the lesson from her story I love most—came as she discovered one of the best earthly blessings of having an eternal family.

“Children are stronger and more resilient than you think. … Sometimes I want to do everything and I want to take care of everything because I want everything just so. But I noticed that they can be strong, and they can become stronger, and it’s okay. We can survive things as a family. … If we really, truly want our families to be together forever, then there are going to be moments in which the whole family will be required to show humility and strength and love and compassion—the whole family, not just individuals. And so I truly feel grateful for everything, including the difficult moments, because it made me grow quicker and in such a way that I never thought I could grow.”

So next time I try to be everything for everyone or hide my emotions from my son when I get overwhelmed, I want to let him find ways in his sweet toddler style to comfort and serve me. I want to be able to grow stronger personally and as a family alongside him, instead of ahead of or behind him.

You can listen to the entire All In interview with Adassa in the player below.

In Jesus We Are One

Born into the Seventh-day Adventist faith, Adassa started singing in church at the age of four. Her father, a pastor, led sermons, and her mother played guitar during services. Several years later, Adassa now worships Christ through another denomination, and although her faith is different in some ways from that of her parents, they have found common ground in worship and praise through song. She recounts recently hearing her mom and dad sing those childhood hymns: "Visiting our home, I could hear them through the bedroom door." She knocked and asked if she could join them. This experience was a moment of realization and inspiration. As she shares, although we each have a unique relationship with Christ, our differences shouldn't divide us. It's His name that we praise, and in Him we are one.

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