Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have a unique approach to parenting, and there are parts of it that not everyone can understand or get behind, but there are other aspects of their parenting that make a lot of sense. That’s not to say that they are the perfect parents who have raised perfect children, but they understand that perfection doesn’t exist when it comes to being parents, and they don’t get hung up on it.
There is no denying that Willow and Jaden Smith (two out of the couple’s three kids, the third being Trey, from Will’s previous marriage) have said some odd things in interviews over the years, things that have made people roll their eyes. But their parents have given them the freedom of expression and individuality that makes them comfortable enough to be able to speak their minds, regardless of the topic. Will and Jada are unconventional in many ways, but they are proud of this (Jada told Us Weekly as much), and their unique approach has merit. For example, the way they encourage their children to have an open and honest dialogue with them, about anything.
Below are 20 things we can learn from Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith's unconventional parenting.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have a unique approach to parenting, one that not everyone can understand or get behind. But there are some aspects of their parenting that make a lot of sense, such as their understanding of how each child is an individual and parenting styles have to be adapted because of this.
“Motherhood is brand new every time,” Pinkett Smith told The Huffington Post. “You might have it down with one child and then have another and that child needs something completely different and now you are learning all over again how to specifically mother that particular child because, like I said, what it might have taken to raise one child, another child needs something completely different.”
Encouraging individuality can be hard to do, but Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith understand that for their children to grow, they need to allow them to be who they are, and not try to make them fit into a mold.
This is evident by who their children have become, and they are definitely out-of-the-box thinkers who regularly share their own (sometimes unique) views with the media. But their parents have encouraged this freedom and individuality. "Jaden is 100 percent [brave], he will do anything,” Will told Complex. “As a parent it's [worrying], it's really [very worrying], but he is completely willing to live ... by his artistic decisions and he doesn't concern himself with what people think."
Punishing children for their mistakes is a tricky and controversial topic to get into, and this is a decision based on each parent and the extenuating circumstances. But we can comment on Jada Pinkett Smith’s approach to punishment, which she shared with Health.
"I want to give them the opportunity to make mistakes and learn how to put boundaries on themselves," she said. “So by the time they're out of the house, they fly." Everyone makes mistakes, the important thing is the lesson that comes with them, so that individuals do not repeat the same mistakes and instead learn something.
As kids grow up, they become more reluctant to share every aspect of their lives with their parents. Whether this is because they don’t feel as though they can approach their parents, or because they are looking for independence and freedom from them, we cannot be sure. But to ensure that their children find them approachable, and to encourage an honest dialogue, Will and Jada have set up a “circle of safety.”
Will spoke about this during an appearance on The Tonight Show (via E! News). "They're allowed to tell us everything that they did [in the circle of safety], and they can't get in trouble," he explained, adding, "The rule is, if we find out after the circle of safety that there was something you didn't say, there was [going to be trouble]."
Most parents put their children’s needs before their own and sometimes forget to take care of themselves. But Jada Pinkett Smith reminds everyone that to function well, and be able to adequately care for others, there needs to be a balance, and parents need to take care of themselves.
“You always have to remember to take care of you first and foremost," she said, according to Oklahoma News 4. “Because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others. And I think that we’ve been taught that taking care of yourself is a problem.”
There are many celebrity moms who are relatable (and then there are some who are not) but one thing we should all remember as women, and as mothers, is that we have the same struggles and should support and encourage each other. In theory, this doesn’t always happen, and there is a lot of mom-shaming and guilt, but Jada Pinkett Smith wants mothers to have respect for each other.
“There’s many different ways to mother, there’s no one cookie-cutout way to be a mother,” she told The Huffington Post. “So, I think, as a mother and as a woman, trying to support other women in how they see it’s best to mother their children is very important."
Both Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are incredibly successful individuals who have chosen to live their lives in the public eye. But if you set aside the fame, then they are surprisingly similar to the rest of us, at least, they are when it comes to their values and how much they love and cherish their family.
One of the most important things for the Smiths is to be able to spend quality time together, something which Jada discussed with The Huffington Post. “Everybody works so when we come together, we’re focusing on each other,” she explained. “We really cherish the time we have together.”
If a child finds themselves in a bind and needs to call someone for help, most parents would expect that person to be them, right? They want to encourage their children to call them (no matter what) when they need help or are in an unpleasant situation, but this level of trust can be hard to establish.
Will and Jada have found that for their children to trust them, they need to be there, but also not pry. During a chat with Jimmy Fallon (via E! News) Jada shared her parenting advice for the talk show host with regards to his own children, saying, “As a father, if she [his daughter] needs a ride from the mall, you go pick her up, and you don't say a word. You don't ask her anything. Don't talk to her. Don't ask any questions…You wait until she comes to you and wants to talk to you. And that's my advice to you."
Children should treat their parents with respect, but Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith also suggest that there should be a balance for the parent-child relationship to really flourish. Will Smith’s approach to parenting is to treat his children with the same respect, and in the same way, that he would other adults.
“We respect our children the way we would respect any other person,” he told Haute Living. “Things like cleaning up their room. You would never tell a full-grown adult to clean their room, so we don’t tell our kids to clean their rooms. We tell our kids, ‘You don’t have a room, that’s our room and we are letting you borrow it.’”
Parents won’t agree with all approaches that Will and Jada take when it comes to parenting, and their style has been called “unconventional” or “unorthodox.” But one philosophy the couple shares with most people is their view on how loving and supporting their children is what matters the most.
"You can't protect your child from everything," Will explained to Psychology Today (via BCK Online). "But the buffer provided by a loving and supportive family who accepts their children exactly as they are is the absolute best thing you can offer your children." And at the end of the day, perhaps all a child needs is love and encouragement.
Many celebrity parents have spoken about their views on education, and the importance of it. But not everyone agrees with the public or private school system, and some opt for homeschooling. There are many reasons why homeschooling may be a better option for a child, whether it’s flexible schedules or a different environment, but for Will Smith and his wife, homeschooling their kids was so that they could find a system that could “revolutionizes public education.”
In an interview with Live with Regis and Kelly (via Essence), Will said: "We found about eight or nine other parents that homeschool, so we put the children together. There are just very powerful educational concepts that we believe in, and we feel like we want to design the system that revolutionizes public education."
Wanting the best for children may mean that sometimes parents strive for perfection, but perfection doesn’t exist (and the pressure to be flawless can be overwhelming).
Jada Pinkett Smith, like most mothers, wants her children to succeed. She wants them to be happy, and self-sufficient, but she also understands that she cannot control this outcome to their detriment. In an interview with The Huffington Post, she shed light on this, saying, “You kind of have to release that perfectionism and you have to release that judgment in order for your kids to just develop in a healthy way.”
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith don’t think they have parenting all figured out, and like most people, it’s an approach that is filled with highs and lows. To better understand her shortcomings, Jada Pinkett Smith asked her children, Jaden and Willow, during an episode of her series, Red Table Talk (via Entertainment Tonight), to share moments when they felt she and her husband made parenting mistakes.
The example that stands out came from Willow, who explained that “one [really bad] experience” she had was when her track “Whip My Hair” came out in 2010. “You and daddy should have been like, 'OK, we value her musical growth and knowledge more than her popularity,’” she told her mom.
Jada Pinkett Smith probably wants many things for her children, including success, but the most important thing is that she wants them to be happy. As mentioned above, in an episode of her social media Watch Series, Red Table Talk, Jada asked her children about her shortcomings as a parent, and after hearing what they had to say, she responded by telling Willow that their desire for her to succeed with that track came from a place of love.
"Your dad and I, we were like, 'Oh man, she'll be set up for life. This is her start,'" she explained. The take away here really is that she wants the best for her kids.
The earlier points highlight that Jada and Will are far from perfect parents, and of course, they have made mistakes. But everyone makes mistakes, and they understand that the most important thing is to learn from what they could have done differently, so they know for the future. That, and forgiveness.
"You know what? I think parents have to give themselves much more forgiveness," she said during Red Table Talk. "When you become a parent, you have these huge ideals, even for yourself, because we all are coming into parenting with our own childhood traumas. And you're hoping you can fix all that through your own rearing of your children, and you can't. Your kids are gonna have their burdens..."
Parents want different things for their children and have goals and dreams for them. Maybe your son is a great swimmer and you’d like him to get a college scholarship, or perhaps you want your child to have a perfect grade average? There is nothing wrong with hoping for something, but Will Smith has also commented on how he chooses to encourage his children’s interests, instead of pushing his own agenda.
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres (via Huffington Post) he said, “Because we’re [he and his wife] both artists, we decided a long time ago that it’s sort of better to flow with what people are naturally more than what our egos need them to be. So we really just try to find the things that they’re good at and support those things rather than forcing them…”
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have two children, Jaden and Willow, but there is also a third child in their family, Trey Smith (from Will’s relationship with ex-wife Sheree Zampino). Jada often posts photos of Trey on social media, and lovingly refers to him as her “bonus” child. It’s clear she has a lot of love for him, but she also has a lot of respect for his mama, and understands that to make a blended family work, there needs to be mutual respect between the adults involved.
She shared her thoughts on social media (via Huffington Post), writing, “Blended families are NEVER easy,” but people choose them. She expanded on this point, writing, “When I married Will, I knew Trey was part of the package...Period! If I didn’t want that...I needed to marry someone else. Then I learned if I am going to love Trey...I had to learn to love the most important person in the world to him...his mother. And the two of us may not have always LIKED each other... but we have learned to LOVE each other.”
To really allow their children to be themselves, Will and Jada have given them the freedom to pursue their own interests, and become who they want to be. They have an open and honest conversation with them, and they encourage them to embrace their individuality.
On an episode of Red Talk Table, Jada spoke about her son wearing women’s clothing for a Louis Vuitton campaign, Parents 24 notes. The campaign crossed gender boundaries, and Jada supported her son in his decision, which is perhaps why he was comfortable enough to do it.
Daily Mail notes that Jaden talked about “wanting to wear skirts to give kids the freedom, to give other people the freedom to think out of the box for themselves…”
It’s not just parents who teach their children lessons, but children who teach their parents. And Will Smith’s daughter, Willow, has taught him how to be a better parent, according to him. After Willow shaved her hair in the middle of her Whip My Hair tour, Will realized his daughter was trying to send him a message, and he heard it loud and clear.
According to Madame Noire, Will had this to say on the subject: “I’m looking at that girl and I’m like, ‘Got it. Got it. I understand.’” He then let her end the tour, adding, “And that was the first part of the collapsing of my father’s suit that I was wearing that wasn’t mine.” What he means, is, he adapted his parenting strategies afterward.
It seems that the issue of Willow shaving her hair was a pretty big learning curve for Will and Jada because it helped them change their parenting strategies, learn from their mistakes, and also be more understanding. But when Jada spoke about why she would “let” her daughter cut her hair, in a post on social media, she made it very clear that it was her daughter’s choice, and it’s her hair. She also challenged the word “let.”
On the "question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First, the LET must be challenged," she wrote. "This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self-determination.”