Op-Ed: Mo’Nique Publicly Exposing Old Text Messages With Her Son, Didn’t Prove Anything


Mo’Nique has had a good run in the media lately, thanks to her appearance on the Club Shay Shay podcast hosted by former NFL player Shannon Sharpe. However, the tone quickly shifted from her being praised for taking a stand against the entertainment industry to being criticized for being a lousy mother. How did things take a turn for the worse? 

During the Club Shay Shay interview, Mo’Nique was asked about their relationship status with her eldest son, Shalon Jackson, and she said they weren’t on talking terms. 

“We’re still very much separated, and it’s one of those things where you have to pray to the universe and say let time do the healing, and that’s it. That’s it. Let time do the healing,” Mo’Nique, 56, stated about her son.

She continued that she’s taken accountability; now it’s up to her son and time. That didn’t begin the family media circus that ensued; Jackson’s response via a TikTok video did. 

Jackson, also a comedian, argued that his mom was spinning a false narrative about her parenting and that they weren’t trying to fix the relationship. He acknowledged that his mom has admitted to her slack parenting but didn’t show enough compassion and humility when taking accountability. 

He also stated in the lengthy TikTok video that Mo’Nique told him she wasn’t interested in being a mom, but that changed when she had two kids with her now husband, Sidney Hicks. 

The couple responded to Shalon’s TikTok in a joint video on Instagram, where they went live. During the chat, they summarized Shalon’s points, saying they have indeed shown up for Shalon over the years. 

“There are some people that are saying, ‘Oh, you should be ashamed of your mothering skills; you should be ashamed of yourself,” Mo’Nique said in the live. “This is what I say, ‘Let’s let it play out.’ Because the same ones that were saying oh, I was crazy, I was deranged, we watched it play out. So, just like with my son, we will watch this play out.” 

It does get worse. The actress thought it would be a good idea to post ‘receipts’ of her reaching out to her son and him asking for advice throughout 2021. And, no, it didn’t do what she thought it would. As the young people say, social media users “ate her up” in multiple blog comment sections. 

As a result of her decision, the comedian’s son recently clapped back with an emotional response to her sharing their text messages on social media. He said to followers, “I guess the intelligent thing to do, when assuming that your son is having a mental episode, is to post personal messages that are three years old, in an attempt to validate false narrative, as if they are (text messages) some type of receipt.” He continued, “You also invaded the privacy of my daughter’s grandparents by posting your receipts. Neither of you should never speak on mental health again, if you thought that idea was a good one.” 

Shalon went on to say, “As a person who lives with mental health issues, let me be the first to educate you. There are individuals who have taken their lives, harmed, and also taken the lives of others for doing the very thing you so proudly did in your video.”

He also gathered his own “receipts” to showcase why he’s decided to move forward without his mother in his life, which happened to be adorable pictures and videos of his newborn daughter. 

The exchanges could quickly fill the pages of a novella, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss today.

I’ll start by saying it always saddens me to see families hash out their issues online because the internet isn’t always a kind place. The most disappointing thing, however, is seeing Mo’Nique trying to win an argument with her son in front of millions of people. Mo’Nique’s response shows that while she has apologized and taken accountability for not being a great parent, she hasn’t yet learned how to be a better one. It also shows she may not be waiting for time to heal things, which may postpone their reconciliation. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

If she was able to look beyond Shalon’s public cry for attention via a TikTok video, she might see that her son is still hurting and needs to be affirmed, heard, and held. While we shouldn’t be held prisoner to our mistakes, we should extend grace when we’ve caused harm to a child we birthed. 

Extending grace looks like calling your son when he made a TikTok video calling you out and attempting to understand and make amends, not airing text messages from almost three years ago. 

Some people argue that Mo’Nique has apologized, Shalon is grown, and there’s nothing more she can do. And while all three things may be true, a parent who is sorry wants to course correct and still wants a relationship with their son might consider using this as an opportunity to reconnect versus publicly trying to prove a point. The version of Shalon speaking in those videos is likely the child who feels abandoned and rejected by his mother, not the thirty-something-year-old comedian. 

I’m of the school of thought that kids can do wrong, but parents should be the prototype of unconditional love. And when I say unconditional love, I don’t mean love that is perfect or has no boundaries—I think parents can have boundaries and love their kids. When I say unconditional love, I mean love that is constant and kind through triggers that arise, especially when those triggers are from the pain you cause. Shalon is triggered, and as a parent, it’s Mo’Nique’s job to love and cover him through that trigger, not expose him. It seems her response comes from a place of shame and needing to feel publicly validated for her efforts to right her wrongs. 

We’ve seen a similar storyline before; those who know about the Brian McKnight saga watched him blame his kids for their severed relationship. His kids may have done things wrong, but trying to shame and alienate them publicly doesn’t make you right. 

I hope the risk of Mo’Nique further damaging a relationship she essentially broke was worth her being right in the public’s eyes. I also hope that she calls a family therapist and her son if a conflict arises again instead of sharing text messages. 

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