- Will Smith appeared on a new episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk” and talked about parenting.
- He said that daughter Willow Smith challenged his parenting style and “introduced me to feelings.”
- The actor said that he was raised by a “disciplinarian” and used similar parenting styles with his own kids, but it didn’t work with Willow.
- Will said that during the success of his daughter’s song “Whip My Hair,” he realised that he was “pushing” his daughter too hard.
- He added: “I would say that ‘Whip My Hair’ thing put a pause button on my overt parenting.”
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In the latest instalment, released on Sunday, the two stars spoke candidly about how Will’s upbringing impacted the parent he became and how he learned to adjust his mindset while raising his kids.
During the “RTT” episode, Will explained that his father, Willard Carroll Smith Sr., was a “disciplinarian” who “demanded order” and utilised a “military-style” when parenting. The “Aladdin” star said that he applied a similar approach when he became a father at 24 to son Trey Smith, who he had with ex-wife Sheree Zampino.
Will said that Trey received the most “old-school” version of his parenting, largely influenced by his father. By the time Will welcomed son Jaden Smith with Pinkett Smith in 1998, the actor was “midway through that and I started to see that I was hurting him.”
Willow, born two years after Jaden, “rejected” the “military mindset” that Will used.
Will explained that he “succeeded” in the real world by following that military mindset of discipline and hard work, which is why he was thrown off when his daughter rebelled against him following the success of her song “Whip My Hair.” She was 9 years old at the time.
The 2010 double platinum track resulted in live performances, a record deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, and a tour with Justin Bieber. Will said that he and Willow had a disagreement when she told him that she didn’t want to continue the tour because she didn’t feel like it, despite making a commitment. In an act of defiance, his daughter completely shaved off her hair.
“It was so devastating to me when she shaved her head bald,” the “Spies in Disguise” star recalled.
Will said it was like a “protest against me” and “a sign from the gods” that she didn’t want to adhere to his rules. He added that Willow went on to “rebuild” her career on her terms.
“I saw how much I was making and forcing and pushing the things that I wanted and in that moment, I just saw it was starting to hurt her,” Will said. “My desire for her was overriding her desire for her. And I had a real epiphany on that and how bad a person will hate you if you keep forcing your wishes onto their life.”
The actor continued: “She introduced me to feelings… I would say that ‘Whip My Hair’ thing put a pause button on my overt parenting,” he said. “I stopped, and I just started watching my kids, and with Willow, I started to see that there was a higher value in talking to her about how she feels about the situation versus how to fix the situation, and it became the new thought process for me.”
The father-daughter pair have previously spoken about the way “Whip My Hair” affected their relationship. Will said that Willow “really tested him” following the success of the song, while the singer said that he was “harsh” at the time, but she’s learned to forgive him.
“It was like, a couple of years trying to regain trust for not feeling like I was listened to, or no one cared what I felt during that time,” Willow said during a previous episode of “Red Table Talk.”
Watch the full “Red Table Talk” episode below.
- Read more:
- Jada Pinkett Smith says she learned she doesn’t know Will Smith ‘at all’ while self-isolating together
- Jaden Smith says people offered him food and asked if he was sick after his parents had a very public health intervention on their talk show
- Jada Pinkett Smith says someone called Child Protective Services for ‘starving’ Willow, and her daughter thinks she knows the reason behind it
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