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Session 233: What Not to Do When Co-Parenting

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

Dr. Donna Oriowo is back this week to chat all about the most recent episode of Insecure and boy do we have a lot to chat about! She and I chatted about Lawrence’s new life in San Francisco, all the conversations he & Condola should be having but aren’t, how they might move forward with their relationship, and our predictions for what we might see from them as the season progresses. This episode does contain spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the most recent episode you definitely want to save it for later.


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Grab a copy of Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease

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Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 231 of the podcast discussing the Season 5 premiere of Insecure.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 201 of the podcast discussing how to vet relationship advice.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 60 of the podcast discussing colorism and texturism.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 159 of the podcast discussing Molly’s return to therapy.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 158 of the podcast discussing Issa & Lawrence’s relationship.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 155 of the podcast discussing Molly & Issa’s friendship.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 151 of the podcast discussing the Season 4 premiere of Insecure.

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Session 233: What Not to Do When Co-Parenting

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 233 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get into the episode right after a word from our sponsors.


Dr. Joy: Dr. Oriowo is back this week to chat all about the most recent episode of Insecure, and boy, do we have a lot to chat about! In case you've missed her before here on the podcast, Dr. Donna Oriowo is an author, international speaker and certified sex and relationship therapist in the Washington DC Metro area. She's the owner of AnnodRight and specializes in working with black women on issues related to colorism and texturism and its impact on mental and sexual health. She's also the author of Cocoa Butter and Hair Grease: A Self Love Journey Through Hair and Skin. This episode does contain spoilers, so if you haven't watched the most recent episode, you definitely want to save it for later.

Dr. Oriowo and I chatted about Lawrence's new life in San Francisco, all the conversations he and Condola should be having but aren't, how they might move forward with their relationship, and our predictions for what we might see from them as the season progresses. We of course want to hear your thoughts as well, so share them with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here’s our conversation.

Dr. Joy: All right, and we are back now with episode three of the final season of Insecure. Of course, we have Dr. Oriowo back with us to chat about all the things that we have seen unfold in this episode. Thank you so much for chatting with us again because there's clearly lots for us to once again chat about. I feel like we say that every time we get together.

Dr. Oriowo: Every single time, but it's because it’s true.

Dr. Joy: It’s because it’s true. There’s so much going on here. We had not really seen Lawrence. We haven’t seen him at all since the season started?

Dr. Oriowo: Only when Issa had just come and was just like...

Dr. Joy: That’s right, yes, when he dropped her off.

Dr. Oriowo: I’mma hop up at your car but I don’t want to see you anymore.

Dr. Joy: Thanks for the ride. Thanks so much. We finally have like an in depth episode, this is kind of like a Lawrence-centric episode that we have this week. It starts off with that, like him dropping her off scene and then we see he goes back to his apartment and stuff is all packed. And so he obviously has taken... well, we knew he had taken the job in San Francisco and he is obviously preparing to move. And so we see a little bit later that it unfolds that he's in San Francisco now and has started a new job at... What it looks like, it's like a VC firm? Is that the impression you got?

Dr. Oriowo: I don’t even know but it ain’t Best Buy.

Dr. Joy: No, it definitely is not Best Buy and it definitely looks like he...

Dr. Oriowo: I’m getting shady...

Dr. Joy: We can be a little shady, it's fine. But it definitely looks like he's in some kind of a VC position which I don't think was the impression I got from what he had been doing before. Like I knew it was something in the tech space but I don't think I knew that he was like in VC.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm just like, you go ahead now. Pick these people with their...

Dr. Joy: Right, right, very interesting. But the thing that I have noticed, and I don't know if this will continue for the rest of the season, but it feels like we're getting very segmented episodes in terms of like who's involved in each episode. And so typically, it feels like there is much more of an ensemble, we see a little bit going on in lots of people's lives, whereas in this season it is more one or two characters that you're focused on. And so it feels like, of course again, this is a Lawrence-centric episode. Do you make anything of the fact that it seems like they're filming separately (almost) this season?

Dr. Oriowo: You know, I started to think of it in two ways. Like one, maybe this is about COVID and it's like, well, these are the people that we're going to have on set today, keeping the set small, keeping safe. Because I think that sometimes I forget that we're in a pandemic and I have to remind myself that we are. That just because the world is opening up–or at least our world, the United States in particular is opening up–doesn't mean that it’s true for everywhere else, and that some people are taking it super seriously as they should. So part of it is that's what I was wondering.

On the other end, I was thinking that this is the final season, this could be when we start seeing people going their separate ways. That we are separating from the show so we are going to be segmented off, but also that the characters are going in their own direction. And that sometimes we move apart from other people. That for a time, we may be on parallel journeys with other folks, but at sometimes, you know... Sometimes you make a right turn, they make a left, and now you're going in opposite directions. And that that's okay but you have to be okay with wherever the journey takes you, you know.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, it also made me think about like this feels very much like what happens after a breakup in a friend group. That, you know, y’all are... Exactly, I get you in the divorce because you were my friend first. And so, you know, maybe we aren't in the same social scenes anymore. I mean, we kind of see this–I know we'll talk about it–the birthday party. You know, but it does kind of feel like what happens is segmentation and separation that happens when there’s mutual friends but you probably are seeing them separately as opposed to all together now.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And I think there's something to be said about honoring yourself and being like, look, I can't be around this person. I still need space from this person so I'm not going to be able to be where they are.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, I think that that's a really important boundary to set after a breakup.

Dr. Oriowo: Absolutely. Even a friendship breakup.

Dr. Joy: Yes, agreed, agreed. So we see Lawrence, he's in his San Francisco life and he clearly is on a first date with someone in a restaurant, a beautiful sister in a restaurant, and he gets this text that the baby has been born. I don't know, did you get a sense of what the time frame was for when we're seeing him in San Francisco?

Dr. Oriowo: No. I was wondering like, okay, how long was the dude there? Because I think that him and Issa were long distance for a minute and it seemed like they were trying to close the gap. And I'm just like, okay, so you're on this first date, how much time has passed? Like where are we? Or when are we, I guess, would be the better question. But clearly, we are at least nine, 10 months out?

Dr. Joy: Well, no, because it seemed like the baby came early. Because when he got to the hospital (which was super awkward) Condola says like, oh, yeah, he came a little early. And so it seems as if like the baby was ahead of its due date.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm wondering how much ahead of the due date because they did not mention that.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, they didn’t. I would guess between seven and nine months would be my guess. Yeah... exactly, exactly. So we see he gets this text message and he has to like awkwardly end the date and he clearly jumps on a flight and goes straight to the hospital. My first concern was like, oh, you like took the baby and didn't even wash your hands. That was a red flag to me.

Dr. Oriowo: Yep, I’m like in COVID times, you just got here.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, you can’t touch a fresh baby, fresh off of an airplane without washing your hands first. That was the first thing I thought.

Dr. Oriowo: You should see the way I used to carry these babies back in the day. I mean, before COVID, I'm washing up to my elbows. This is me, washing up to my elbows, I'm looking like I'm gonna hold this baby, let me wash myself. And he couldn't even be bothered about spritz and sanitizer?

Dr. Joy: What was your take on the reception that he got when he walked into the delivery room and her mom and her sister were there?

Dr. Oriowo: It was both awkward and disrespectful.

Dr. Joy: Say more.

Dr. Oriowo: Like Keke Palmer’s character (and I love Keke). I was just like, yo, that's why the baby looks like that? Unnecessary. Disrespectful. And the thing is, the disrespect don't even stop there. And it's almost like passive aggressive, except it’s kind of aggressive-aggressive comments. And for me, this shows several things. The main thing that it shows is that they have not been on the same page and have not had the conversations that they need to have to make sure that their families and friends are on board with what is. Because otherwise, I would expect to see some boundaries being laid out like you can’t say no more shit like that. That's not okay.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, it very much gave the “I am upset with this person and I have been talking to my mother and sister about him, and now they hate him too because I am not in a good place with him.” Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: That whole part. And the thing is, I can see this entire situation from both sides. Because I'm like I believe in the power of the pluriverse as Dr. *[inaudible 0:11:00] would call it and I'm just like multiple truths can hold the same space. So I'm looking at it like y'all did wrong over there but so was you, dude. All people involved have been dead wrong almost the entire daggone episode. I'm just like I don't know what's up with y’all.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. So I think in that exchange, we see the first sign that there has probably been little to no communication between Condola and Lawrence, like for this entire pregnancy. Because the baby has been named Elijah Mustafa and clearly Lawrence is not on board with that and we see like after he leaves the hospital, he goes to stay with Chad because he hadn't had time to make any arrangements for where he was going to sleep. And he's talking with Chad about the fact that they had kind of tossed around casually some baby names but hadn't really settled on something. And he, it seems like, had to fight to actually have his last name be placed on the birth certificate. And so I think this was the early indication that it just seems like Condola and Lawrence really haven't done any kind of talking. And so I’d just love to hear your thoughts about, ideally or in a nice healthy setup, what might communication have looked like between Condola and Lawrence over these past couple of months?

Dr. Oriowo: It's funny because as I was having this conversation in therapy just this morning. I was just like, well, are you having a Biggie conversation or are you having a Tupac conversation? They're like, wait, what? And I'm just like when Biggie died, was there any question? No. We knew exactly what happened. Nobody was questioning nothing. We say that Biggie died and this is what happened and that's the end. When Tupac died, how many questions cropped up? Everybody's seeing the man on vacation, they swear up and down they’ve seen him at the gas station, and then there starts to be this like bubbling of uncertainty around whether or not Tupac is actually passed.

These are the conversations that they are having. They're having Tupac conversations where nothing is clear, nobody is on the same page about anything. There's a lot of speculation and there's a lot of assumptions, but there's not a lot of clarity. And I think that some of it is in what is my role versus how do I separate the child from the mother? And how do I interact with this person who told me that they don't want a child and I decided to keep this child when I know that they didn't really want one? And I'm like, to me, these are conversations that you needed to be having. I'm like, in a pregnancy, usually the child is not present until after they are born. Which means that there's probably some time for some talking or something of that nature before they arrive. And it seems like they have done no work before the arrival of this child and are now almost playing like communication catch up.

To me, what it looks like, y’all (had no) conversation back then like, okay, so if we are keeping the child, what are our expectations for how the child is raised? What type of schools we might want the child to go to, how we're going to do feeding schedule, how we're going to do visitation schedule. Well, baptism is important to me, let's have a conversation about that. These are conversations that they clearly did not have. And when they're off with one another about what they desire, there's no conversation. It doesn't seem like they actually circle back around. It's been like, okay, both of them are keeping these like resentments and hurts and feelings in and not having productive conversations with one another.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. And it seems like it's very clear that there have been very little to no conversations between the two of them about like what happens once the baby gets there, but it also feels like neither of them have really done their own work to kind of make peace with this situation. And of course, it sounds like a very difficult situation, it doesn't sound like Lawrence really wanted Condola to go through with the pregnancy. Condola very much wanted to go through with the pregnancy and even told Lawrence like you can be as involved or not as you want. And so of course, there are some lingering feelings, I am sure, for both of them. And I think that their inability or lack of doing the work to kind of make peace with all of that that happened is what is at least a part of what’s preventing them from being able to have these conversations about what happens once the baby gets here.

Dr. Oriowo: Absolutely. I don't think that either of them have actually taken the time, or at the very least I don't think he has taken the time to really grieve and mourn that the way he envisioned having a child is not the way he is having one. He mentioned it, like you know that this is not what I envisioned, this is not what I planned, this is not how I wanted this process to go. And I'm just like, yes, it is not what you wanted–have you taken the time to actually sit with that, to grieve it? Because I know that a lot of people would be like, oh, you need to get over that, blah, blah, blah, and I'm just like, actually, you need to go through that. You need to feel that. Experience it.

And that goes for both of them. To grieve their relationship ending, to grieve the reasons why their relationship ended, for Lawrence to grieve that his relationship with Issa is over and how that has impacted how he was even thinking about having a child in the first place. I think all of this was super important for them to do, I just don't know that they did it. It's almost like they're just trying to pick up and move forward without actually processing that this is not exactly what they envisioned.

And without circling back to some of those original conversations. Because, like you said, the whole idea of you can be as involved or not involved as you like, I'm looking like that's all well and good when it's extra early and you’re thinking that things might work out. And if that was in the mindset that it was said in, that's a very different conversation than, yeah, we’re not getting back together and this is what I actually need now. Like you're allowed to pivot but I'm wondering, are you communicating about the pivot or are you still moving with the same energy as before? (And we know they're still moving with that same energy as before.)

Dr. Joy: Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: Because she mentioned it.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. Again, I just don't think that they've had any conversations. And back to our conversation from a couple of weeks ago about, oh, I really hope they're gonna show us like what Molly and Issa did on their road to kind of repairing their friendship. Maybe in future episodes we'll see this, but will we get to see like what has happened that got us to the place where Condola and Lawrence look like they're not even having any conversations in terms of preparing for this child who will be brought into the world?

Dr. Oriowo: That part. I'm just like that's all I'm looking for–the communication pivot. Because if it really was okay that he said “keep me posted” versus what he was saying to Chad, which is “she not leaving me out of shit else.” I’m looking like was she leaving you out or were you choosing not to be involved?

Dr. Joy: And I'm sure Condola was feeling like, oh, now you want to be super involved? Because he probably hasn't been like going to any doctor's visits, you know. Clearly, they have not even settled like on a solid name, they have not even had a conversation about the baby taking his last name. And so I am sure that Condola felt very like oh, okay, now you got all this energy after the baby has been born but that energy wasn't present before.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. Y’all didn’t talk about diddly dang, that's beautiful. And just the expectations were never said. So it seems like he's not meeting expectations but it also seems like expectations were not stated and vice versa. He didn't say what he wanted but he's expecting her to know and I'm just like, well, the both of you are keeping this lovely secret of your expectations while demanding that the other person meet it or telling them all the ways in which they are inadequate at meeting it. I'm like, well, you kept it a secret–how can anybody meet anything? It's an unreasonable ask.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, and we see it really kind of bubble over. After the baby is born, then Lawrence is like doing this LA to San Francisco kind of flight, commuter flight kind of thing. Like he's trying to come down... Yes, trying to come down on the weekend. You know, trying to be there for the weekends and evenings for like doctor visits and stuff like that. And we see a text from Condola saying apparently Simone, who is Tiffany and Derek's baby, is having her first birthday party and so she asks Lawrence, “Should we go to the party together with Elijah?”

And so at the party, though, we see this kind of bubble over. Like we see this bubbling over of that they clearly just are not on the same page. He takes the baby to feed the baby–supposedly milk or formula–and then he has like fed the baby carrots. And so the bubble up is like you introduce solid foods, which people I think know... Or maybe not, like it's a big deal because you are only supposed to introduce things very slowly, because kids that age can have allergic reactions, all kinds of things can happen. And so I didn't feel like her reaction there was like unrealistic or unreasonable, but I do think the timing of it like being at a birthday party spoke to like, okay, what's happening? Are we even aware of our surroundings right now?

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. Honestly, that whole thing was just so cringe worthy at that party.

Dr. Joy: Yes.

Dr. Oriowo: And I was just like this is one of those moments where you use the word gaslighting and it's actually said in the proper context. So here we go. It's gaslighting as hell to call someone dramatic. Why is Mommy being so dramatic? This is a dismissal of somebody else's thoughts and feelings around a situation in favor of your own. This is a way to belittle someone, to be like, oh gosh, you're being so dramatic. I’m like, you know, most people are not actually being dramatic, they're actually being responsive to what is going on in their environment at the time.

So I'm just like their lack of communication and that he is using baby talk to dismiss feelings around feeding the baby carrots. He doesn't think it's a big deal but he doesn't even know why it's a big deal. He's not asking questions, he's just leading with, well, the doctor said that we can introduce it after four months and I have decided that I'm going to let this child eat baby mush of unknown origins at a party for a one-year-old who is able to eat a lot more stuff than our baby is. But I'm just going to do it because I feel like it and I'm not going to communicate with you because it's my child, too.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Oriowo after the break.


Dr. Joy: It feels like this is like the power struggle that happens right now like in this co-parenting situation. Now the baby has kind of become a pawn for all the things we are not saying to one another.

Dr. Oriowo: Mm hmm, that part. The baby gets caught in the middle of their lack of communication and I'm just like, well, what is the need of the child? Y'all want to argue back and forth, but you're not arguing back and forth in the right way, in my opinion. I'm like, if you're going to argue back and forth, if you're going to have a discussion, then make sure that you're focused on the thing that you're supposed to be focused on. Lawrence is focused on his pride.

Dr. Joy: Very much so.

Dr. Oriowo: He wants to look like a good father and he has repeatedly said that throughout this entire episode. He seems to be very interested in the optics. I think that he is interested in being a good father but I don't know that he understands what that takes and he is in a space of “my presence is enough.” Like my presence is the present. I'm like you’re not trying, my friend. And presence is bare minimum and I think that, for me, part of the issue is that we get into a space of what bare minimum parenting looks like and too many people are given a lot of credit for bare minimum shit.

And particularly it is... You know, no tea, no shade, no lemonade. Men are often given high accolades for bare minimum shit. Like, oh, I didn't run away when somebody had a baby, that makes me a good father. No. I am there–I don't contribute and I don't help, but I am there. That this is enough, this makes him a parent. Or I am trying. And that's the part that like really rubs me wrong. When I hear people talk about how they're trying, I’m just like, don't try. I'm just like, “I'm trying to eat, I haven't eaten. I'm still starving.” I'm trying to eat. I'm like, well, you didn't eat then. You're trying–you haven't done. And being able to delineate the difference, I’m like your intention is nice, your impact is better.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, I mean I feel like that was really shown. Like we see him putting the crib together and I'm thinking like, why do you even have a crib in San Francisco? Like the baby is not in San Francisco.

Dr. Oriowo: The baby doesn’t live there! You clearly have not spoken to Condola.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, I don't know if he was thinking he was gonna be able to take the baby for a weekend but, clearly, that was not going to be happening at least anytime soon.

Dr. Oriowo: I’m just like a baby that is exclusively breastfed is not going anywhere away from the mother.

Dr. Joy: Not that early.

Dr. Oriowo: They’re going nowhere. Like where do you imagine this baby was going?

Dr. Joy: And you know, part of me wondered if that was also a part of him trying to make this a reality. Like if having the crib in his living space kind of made it more real to him. Because before, it's very much like a bachelor pad, you know, like super modern and all this stuff. And so I wondered if him putting the crib up was also a way for him to kind of stay connected to the reality of the fact that the baby exists.

Dr. Oriowo: I have a baby.

Dr. Joy: Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And you know, I was wondering like, okay, that's one way to do it. You put the thing in the space and that sort of helps put you back in this mindset. And I guess I'm in the space wondering like, well, if you can visit once a week, how often can you call? I mean, both of them got iPhones*[Inaudible 0:26:41] because them blue rebels, they don't lie. So we’ve seen that they got this phone and I'm just like, are you FaceTiming? Are you calling? How else are you trying to be connected?

And I think for me, the question is... and this comes back to their communication. It’s like, well, exactly where are you saying that the mother ends and the baby begins? And vice versa. Where does the baby begin and the mother end? And I'm asking this question in particular, because there's this idea, “I don't have to talk to you. It could just be about our child.” And I'm just like, if your child is nonverbal and is 100% dependent on the person who is their active, everyday caregiver for their survival so (unpopular opinion) that makes this child a parasite. If the child is currently in a parasitic form, don't you have to talk to the host?

Dr. Joy: You would think.

Dr. Oriowo: And I feel like this is something that should have been established while Condola was pregnant. I've seen it on the internet, some people are like, he don't owe her no conversation. And I'm just like, actually, actually, you can't not talk to the parent of your child. I don't know how you can parent with someone and not speak to them. You will never get on the same page if all of your conversations are happening through a child.

Dr. Joy: Right, especially a nonverbal child. Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. That baby ain’t got no words yet. All they got is cries. Which means that them not being not on the same page is going to affect this child. And if they continued in this manner, then at some point it’s going to be, “Tell your mom bop, bop, bop. Tell your dad bop, bop, bop.” And the child should never have to go between two adults who just don't want to get their communication shit together. Because your desires at this point, they do not supersede your child, not like that. If y'all are the adults, act like adults. Communicate with one another. I'm like, yes, there's certain things that it's like... Well, medical information, it's like hmm, how much of this should be kept private (like she's seeing a lactation consultant) versus how much of this should be shared? I'm going into labor, you know.

I'm like, for me, there's clearly a misstep in the communication and some of it seems to have been created by a previous dynamic of keep me posted. I'm like, keep me posted is “I'm going to let you know when major milestones happen but otherwise don't bother you.” That's what I hear in keep me posted. Then this idea of you being left out of shit, I'm looking like, well, you said keep you posted, you didn't say involve you. And if you wanted to be involved, phones work two ways.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. I mean, because again, I think we haven't seen the backstory but I think we can imagine that if he had been more involved, he likely wouldn't have gotten the text that said, oh, the baby has been born. He probably would have gotten a text on the way to the hospital or “my water just broke” or however she ended up going into labor. But again, he said keep me posted.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, like I’m feeling contractions.

Dr. Joy: Right, so to me, that indicates that he has not been super involved.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, and has not been seeking that out for himself.

Dr. Joy: Right.

Dr. Oriowo: But there definitely seems to be blame on both sides. She's expecting more involvement and hasn’t spoken to him about more involvement, she's just keeping him posted. And I'm just like, well, why would you say be as involved or as uninvolved as you would like and then not mean it? If you don't mean it anymore, say something. Update the person like, look, I would really like you to be more involved. How involved would you like to be in this process? What does that look like for you? What would it sound like? What would your expectations of my communication with you look like? What about your communications with your child? I'm just like, y’all ain’t talking about the kid.

Dr. Joy: Clearly, there was no communication there. And, you know, it made me think, what did they individually think this process was going to look like? Because I do think, after having two little ones, your idea (especially the first one) your idea of like what it will take to actually raise this baby and keep them alive and keep yourself going is vastly different than the reality of that situation. And so I can definitely see her maybe going into it thinking... And him too maybe thinking like, okay, I will do this, you know, come down on the weekends, whatever. And then the reality of the situation being very, very different. And I think we saw that in that split screen they were showing where she is actively parenting, getting up every two hours or however often with the baby and he's like out on a date, screwing a new chick. Like kind of moving on with his life and I think that...

Dr. Oriowo: Popping champagne.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, so that was, I think, very illuminating.

Dr. Oriowo: It's weird because I'm like there's a part of me that has so much joy in seeing this man at work. Because he sat his ass on the couch, you know. We saw him get a job at Best Buy and now he's working, he’s in his zone and he's loving it. And to me, in a lot of ways, speaks to the emotional and time sacrifices that a lot of women have to make that are not necessarily reciprocated, and don't have to be reciprocated. It's why they talk about women being mommy tracked at work. That because you had a child, that now that must mean that you're less dedicated to your work and that you're going to be more distracted and less able to deliver. And we know this is not true but when you're living in a male centric society, especially one that loves capitalism in the ways that it does, it rewards people for work, it rewards men for work in particular. So it's just like these are the untold pieces of caring for a kid, especially a newborn.

We're not talking about where the undue burden is going to lie, especially when we're thinking about who has the breasts that are going to nourish this child. That person has to be very available. Who carried this child? It means that your body has already gone through all these changes, you're flooded with hormones that say answer your child's cry, that say be present. And you may be... I mean, she could have been having postpartum or whatever else going on with her. And we've heard that non-carrying parents often feel disconnected from the child in any type of coupling. It's like, if you didn't carry the kid, there's a level of disconnect in and of itself, that's even for people who are married or in a committed relationship with one another. So I'm like, y'all are not in a committed relationship and you have horrible communication, and you don't even live in the space.

Dr. Joy: It’s long distance on top of that.

Dr. Oriowo: It's one thing compounding on top of the next. And you know what, I don't know that he even thought that he would need to change anything in his life in any significant way to be the type of father that he was imagining himself being in his...

Dr. Joy: Yes, whatever that picture looked like.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, whatever that looked like. I don't think that he really thought about that.

Dr. Joy: While we were watching the show, after we finished watching it, we were texting and you said that you feel like Lawrence really is suffering from the nice guy syndrome repeatedly through this episode. Tell us more what you mean by that.

Dr. Oriowo: That shit was killing me because I don't like to think of him as that. But the nice guy syndrome is when we be like, “oh, this person is a nice guy” but usually they're the type that gaslight and manipulate and hurt feelings. But because they don't hit you, because they don't outright call you names, or I'mma smack you blah, blah, blah, then we think of this person as a nice guy (as worthy of our time, attention and affection) when that may not be true. And the nice guy piece within the fatherhood scope is, oh, I'm willing to see my child.

It's like the nice guy is doing bare minimum shit to be with anybody but the nice guy father is doing bare minimum shit and calling himself a great dad and he gets pat on the back by one of his family members. Like I see you you're here. And I was just like, is that enough? We are crushing people under the weight of the lowest expectations that we can manage and we do not give them room and space to rise to the occasion. And the only person that was daring him to rise more was Chad.

Dr. Joy: Derek? Tiffany’s husband?

Dr. Oriowo: Was it Chad that he was talking to? Who’s Tiffany’s husband?

Dr. Joy: Yeah, Derek. That’s Derek.

Dr. Oriowo: My bad.

Dr. Joy: No problem.

Dr. Oriowo: But just like the way that he like pulled him to the side. Like, yo, can you help me move these boxes? Like let me not embarrass you in front out here but let me pull you to the side and let you know that what you're doing makes no damn sense. And even in the conversation before that, like when he's staying at dude’s house, and it's just like, y'all need to talk about this. And I'm just like, I didn't like that he was almost like this centering person because I think that sometimes people don't get that person that will give them the truth and give it to them gently. I think that people are very invested in brutal honesty and I'm just like honesty does not need to be brutal, especially not if you're looking for it to be effective.

So the type of honesty that he's giving him and telling him about–you know, talking as well as listening, and trying to be clear, and stating expectations, and all that other stuff. And at the same time being like, “Yo, you got this anger about this situation, this resentment about the baby, you're gonna have to work out.” I'm just like, these things I felt were implied in the conversation even if they were not explicitly said. I was just like this is a really good friend, some sort of pull you to the side and just be like, “Yo, get it together, calm down. This doesn't help.” Because I'm just like, for me, you can't not acknowledge your co-parent if you're actually co-parenting. Because it seems like he almost has dreams of being a single parent, where Condola does not exist except in the moments where he is not with his child.

Dr. Joy: That's very interesting.

Dr. Oriowo: And that doesn't seem right, good or fair. Not to her, but also not to his child. And I think that that's part of what like Keke Palmer's character as well as Condola are really responding to, and her family overall. But I think that also don't be talking shit about the person that you procreated with because you’re the one that look a goddamn fool for procreating with them. That's just me.

Dr. Joy: I think it was important that Derek be the one to deliver that because he's also like the only other father that has been a main character and so some of what he's offering is from his own experience. Now, clearly, he and Tiffany are in a different situation because they're a married couple, but there's still something unique about him having the perspective of being a father to talk about, “Okay, this is how you're going to like end up messing up your kid and like messing up this situation, if you don't start thinking about these things differently.”

Dr. Oriowo: And the thing is, even if they... Like married or not married, everyone should be having these conversations when you're bringing new life. And if you're not going to communicate with one another, we should really be thinking about how or who we are procreating with. And you should think about it before you have sex because... this is one of the things that that could result.

Dr. Joy: Yes, that's the ideal time.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm like otherwise, you know *[inaudible 0:38:15] is always on the table.

Dr. Joy: We further see this blow up after he has been doing the frequent flyer miles and they have had a discussion about him being able to take the baby overnight once he comes to LA. So it sounds like he has made arrangements to rent an Airbnb or something down the street and just have the baby himself. And he gets there and the baby's fussy, as babies are, and she tries to take the baby to comfort him, and then they have this blow up around what's going to happen, and you don't think I can take care of my baby.

And it ends with her saying you can't take the baby, I don't trust you. He says you have blown up my life by basically having this baby. I mean, so again, we continue to just see things escalate now to this point where he can't even take the baby overnight and he has accused her of blowing up his life. And so we've talked already a lot about like clearly there's communication missing, but this goes back to my earlier point of it feels like there has been so much work on themselves and them as a unit that has not been done, and so much resentment that it feels like it would be difficult to even have this conversation with one another to get on the same page in terms of parenting.

Dr. Oriowo: I’m like both of them needed to be in therapy to really process all the changes that happened, and then something joint, with a mediator or something where they could talk about and lay out the parameters of what it is that they were both looking for–and they just didn’t. When she straight up said I don't trust you, I'm just like, boom! Said it. Finally.

Dr. Joy: Right. It’s out there now. Not ideal way but it’s out there, yes.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, it’s like completely out there and he probably should have said it back because he clearly don't trust her neither. He trusts her with the child but doesn't trust how she might use the child. Like with that whole sequence around going to the birthday party and it's just like, oh, is she asking me on a date? I’m just like probably not, but go ahead and ask, dude. Go ahead and ask. But it’s almost like he's thinking that she's going to use this child as a ploy to get back together. And she's in a space of just like, look, I don't trust you. And I'm looking like why should she trust you, dude? What have you done proving yourself to be so trustworthy?

The communication is lacking. I'm like we’re seeing it in the text message, it says call me. It says just call me. And I'm like, I don't know if a phone call happened but I'm gonna assume not because they were still having a conversation about something that it seemed like they weren't even on the same page with. And it also seemed like she needed a break and she said “sure” out of the moment, almost like a sense of like...

Dr. Joy: I’m tired, I'm exhausted. Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, let me just...

Dr. Joy: I need a break.

Dr. Oriowo: Whatever, let me just go for it. And then thought differently about it when it was time for Mustafa to be taken. And she’s just like, wait, wait, wait. No, I don’t actually trust you. And considering how he reacted to the whole carrot situation, I don't know that I would trust him either.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Oriowo after the break.


Dr. Joy: And I think that it is important, at least I have to kind of remind myself about the history that they had even before she got pregnant. Like they weren't together that long, they decided that they actually weren't a good couple together, so they broke up before she even found out she was pregnant. And so in terms of like really being able to have some of these difficult conversations, I don't think that there was enough groundwork and enough history with them to be having some of these conversations. And now they've been forced because the baby is here, right? And so, again, it was not what they planned but this is the reality of the situation. But I think the reality is also that they don't know each other that well and so when we're talking about trust, then I think that that plays a factor. That has to be created over some time and effort and it feels like there maybe has been enough time but definitely not enough effort, especially since the pregnancy.

Dr. Oriowo: I’m like they could have had almost the better part of a year to really get into building trust with one another, to building communication that is also reliable. Because we have to also think about all the things that can break trust. Anytime you say you're going to do and then you do not do, you are breaking trust with someone. When it is small and fragile and barely there, you can completely break faith with them. You say you're going to show up and work gets crazy, and you're tired and you need a break, so you decide not to go–you're breaking trust and you're saying what is prioritized for you.

Dr. Joy: And she doesn't have that choice. She doesn’t have a choice about whether she is too tired to show up.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. And I'm like granted, she made her choice in the beginning–I want to keep the baby and you can be as involved or not involved as you’d like to be–that is a choice. But this is why I'm like y’all didn’t have a conversation that pivoted y'all away from this laissez-faire sort of way of we're gonna parent this child like this. I'm just like y’all needed more communication and y'all didn't take it. And for me, that was just sad.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, it really was sad. And then we see after this fight, he clearly goes back to the airport and goes back home and then there's like turbulence and stuff on the flight and it looks like he thinks he might die in a plane crash. We know those near-death experiences have a way of kind of shaking people up and making us reconsider our priorities and what's important. It looked like after he survived this, because it was just turbulence, he lands and has a change of heart and calls Condola to basically say, “I'm sorry and this isn't working. How do we move forward from here?”

Dr. Oriowo: And I like that. For me, that shows like this man got some growth. He is a person that will now... maybe he gets it and he can apologize and they can move forward in a different direction. I feel like that was very telling. At some point you’ve got to be like what's worth it more? The relationship that you're saying that you want to have or your pride?

Dr. Joy: Yes. What do you think the moving forward could look like for them?

Dr. Oriowo: I think that it could look like a whole lot more conversation, I'm thinking that he might move back.

Dr. Joy: Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: If you would really want to be involved in your child's life, it is usually more simple if you are living in the same place. That is what I know. As a person whose father is gone like almost half the year, I can tell you that it's easier to have a relationship with him when we're in the same time zone and in the same city. So I think that that might be in their future, as well as probably more communication about like what they’d like to see for their son, how they want to make sure that they're interacting with each other.

I'm hoping that it means better communication between them and an easier relationship between them. One where it's not full of like resentments or anger, at least not in the same way. And certainly not the type that has been building up over so many months of unmet expectations that were never stated. I'm hoping that it means that they will have more conversations and that he'll be more communicative. That he'll probably reach out to them and nurture things with his baby mama and his son, same way that he's sort of nurturing this relationship and what's going on with a new client that he decided to sign with.

Dr. Joy: Interesting parallel, you're right. Kind of both being born at that time.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, because I'm just like, well, a lot of the skills that we have at work, we could carry into our personal lives and yet we don’t.

Dr. Joy: Those are transferable skills, you’re right.

Dr. Oriowo: Very transferable skills, and I'm just like, well, transfer those skills. But the difference is that your son, while he has thumbs, he has no ability to properly see and use a cell phone. Which means that you have to be the one to actually follow up and reach out, you have to be the one to actually go talk to his mother. Yes, she will talk to you but you also have to talk to her.

Dr. Joy: Indeed.

Dr. Oriowo: So I'm hoping that this means that it's going to be more communication and hopefully not so much on text because text does not have context.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, so much is lost, so much is lost in text message. A couple other things that I wanted to make sure that we chatted about, some funny and some just like I wonder what you're thinking. One, how hilarious was Kelli when Lawrence asked about, oh, how is everybody else in your circle? Clearly, he is trying to ask about Issa.

Dr. Oriowo: That’s great. Everyone that I associate *[inaudible 0:47:48]

Dr. Joy: Or living in abundance.

Dr. Oriowo: Now that’s how you talk about the facts, like all of my people are living in abundance!

Dr. Joy: This is the only way to respond when your friend’s ex asks about how they're doing and you know they're trying to get at like, oh, they’re struggling. Clearly, they are not, they are living their best life ever, even if that is not the truth. That is the only way that you are to respond.

Dr. Oriowo: Like everyone I know is doing awesome. Swimmingly well. They are lit in their abundance. I am truly blessed to be in *[inaudible 0:48:22].

Dr. Joy: When we set up the birthday party or when we saw the scene of the birthday party happening, what I was imagining was going to happen was that this was going to be when Issa sees Condola and Lawrence together with the baby and like all of that fall out. But we see that Molly and Issa are not even actually at the birthday party, and so what do you think happened there? Do you think that they weren’t invited? Do you think that they chose not to go because Lawrence was gonna be there? Like how do you think that all played out?

Dr. Oriowo: Honestly, I was trying to figure that out myself because I'm looking like, well, y'all are the close-knit friend group, we see who's closer to who even within the friend group, which is not a problem, but I would have expected them to be there. Unless it was if you don't have a kid, don't come. Because we did see a lot of parents there so I was like, I don't know if that was the vibe of the space. Like, okay, bring your kid. If you’ve got a kid, please come through, if you don't, don't come. Or even if they already had a pre-conversation and arrangement understanding like, hey, I just broke up with and I can't be in space with. And maybe Molly decided to support Issa and be there for her, knowing that Condola and Lawrence were going to be at this party? I don't know. I'm wondering myself like why weren’t y’all there?

Dr. Joy: Yeah, and there was a part of me...

Dr. Oriowo: Because they don't live in the same COVID time we live in.

Dr. Joy: Right, they are in 2025, obviously. But there was also a part of me that wondered like why Condola was on the guest list. I mean, we do know that she works with Tiffany or at least has in the past, but we also know that Issa is her girl. So to me, unless, like you're saying, like it was a kids and parents party and maybe they did something separate for like other friends or whatever, but I think I would struggle with the idea of inviting somebody else that I know has this history with somebody who's like a close friend of mine.

Dr. Oriowo: You know, it also occurred to me, with what you're saying, that what if it was because Tiffany remembers her own struggle and knows that Condola is a single parent essentially, in a lot of ways? So maybe she invited her so that she could be in space with other parents who might at some point, you know... Y'all do play dates and all that stuff. I'm wondering if that was a factor at all in her reasoning behind inviting Condola.

Dr. Joy: Right, because it does sound like they both got invites. The message from Condola to Lawrence said, did you see Derek's evite or whatever? Do you think we should go together with Elijah? So yeah, you're right, though. It could have been a way that may have been a factor. Like, oh, this would be an opportunity for Condola to maybe meet other parents or whatever.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. I don’t know.

Dr. Joy: We don't know but we do know Issa and Molly were not there and that that to me like stood out. Because in a friend circle that operates the way we've seen them, you would expect that they would be there. Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: I was just like, where y’all at?

Dr. Joy: Maybe we will see that. Because, again, we don't know what timeline we're on. We don't know like what is happening, where does the friend group stand at this point in time? Like we really don't know.

Dr. Oriowo: I was just like was Issa’s fashion show, was that on the same day as this? Like I don't know.

Dr. Joy: No, because they were at the fashion show. Kelli and Tiffany were at the fashion show, so...

Dr. Oriowo: That’s true. Wait, I don’t remember Kelli and Tiffany there. I remember seeing Molly there.

Dr. Joy: See, now I gotta go rewatch.

Dr. Oriowo: Because I have rewatched it and I was just like, wait, they're not here. So I'm wondering like was it on the same day or not?

Dr. Joy: Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe they will tie it all together for us at some point to address like why they weren’t actually there.

Dr. Oriowo: Because right now it’s all speculation.

Dr. Joy: Right, this is all us just speculating, y’all. We don't really know.

Dr. Oriowo: Can I add something?

Dr. Joy: Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Oriowo: I know that we are about to be... I know that you be on that wrap up because you be like...

Dr. Joy: Right, I ain’t trying to take up all your day.

Dr. Oriowo: But I want us to address how everyone is calling Condola everything but Condola. Canola oil, I done seen that one, I done seen all the things and I want people to stop and question themselves on why. Like, why do we feel it's okay to call her everything but her name? And do you do this to actual people in your life? Now this one, I'm not gonna like front to heavy on it–she’s a character. I'm saying this because I know there has been some strife about what character is in the past couple of weeks from that first episode.

But I find it to be colossally disrespectful to call her everything but her name because you don't like her. So now it's like she becomes no longer a person of worth or note to you and she gets to lose her name in the process. And to me, I'm just like funny joke, yes, but also–why? What joy do we get from tearing down a black woman? And for me, it sounds like white supremacy running its head because I'm just like, that's not cool. To me, that's not cool.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, I'm trying to remember at what point did this start? I feel like this didn't start until after she announced she was pregnant. That people were not calling her Condola. I mean, I'm sure some of it is coming from like people just really want to root for Issa, she's our main character, we know that she maybe wants to be with Lawrence even though we may not be sure that that's the greatest idea. So some of it, I know people, is identifying with like, oh, this is a barrier (so to speak) getting in between that relationship. But Lawrence is just as responsible in this and we just keep calling him Lawrence, so what has led to this whole like changing her name to whatever else besides Condola?

Dr. Oriowo: I get to thinking about like how often we find that thing to be sort of disrespectful. Like how people will mispronounce your name or misspell it in an email and we are incensed by that. Because it feels like they don't see us, it feels disrespectful, it feels hurtful. It's like they're saying that we're less than something. And we're watching it just goes on and on and on all over Twitter and all over these other spaces, but we tend to do this particularly to black women. I think that this is, for me, a space where we have to consider why.

And I say this as a first gen, firstborn person with... I mean, my last name is Oriowo and how many people have told me I'm just going to call you O? And the removal of my name for their own comfort and for their own ease or as a joke or to be whatever it is that they want it to be, with no regard to me at all as a whole person who has the autonomy to say that, no, this is actually my name and let me help you pronounce it. I'm just like, for me, this is a white supremacist tactic of making someone less than what they are so that you can hurt them with no impunity to yourself.

Dr. Joy: And she drops the mic, y'all. She drops the mic.

Dr. Oriowo: And you know somebody's gonna be like, it's not...

Dr. Joy: It ain’t that serious, yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: And I’m gonna be like you’re right, it’s a TV show...

Dr. Joy: But it could be. It’s a TV show. But again, it is just an opportunity to think, like to just think about why we are doing some of the things that we are. That's all. Just an invitation to consider.

Dr. Oriowo: I’m like all words matter and there's always a kernel of truth in jest. Good jokes are told with a kernel of truth. The reason that we connect with Insecure so much is because a lot of us are actually insecure. We are identifying ourselves in these characters in the way that we move through our own lives. Some of us are parenting with somebody that we would rather not parent with. Some of us are trying to repair friendships that have gone asunder. Some of us, we're trying to live our best life, we're trying to glow up love life and we're not quite sure if we are compromising or if we’re compromised. We've had these conversations in regard to Insecure and I'm just like these conversations actually do matter outside of the space. So I just want us to be careful, to be mindful at the very least, about what it is that we're saying and why we are saying the things that we're saying. Why did we make it okay to move in this direction? I just think that it's important for us to note.

Dr. Joy: Agreed, agreed, I appreciate that. We are going to wrap up because I have other things to do and I'm sure that you do too. We’ve got to bring it to a close but we of course will be back throughout the season recapping the important parts and continuing to invite you into these conversations around some of the themes that might show up in our own lives.

It's always a pleasure catching up with Dr. Oriowo to chat about one of my favorite shows. To learn more about her and her work, be sure to visit the show notes at
session233. And don't forget to text two of your girls and tell them to check out the episode as well. Additionally, another episode that pairs nicely with this one is Session 111: Considerations When Co-Parenting. It's a great listen for more context about what kinds of things make co-parenting successful.

If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at

And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here