It’s no secret that The Smiths have a sort of “unconventional” way of raising their children, and whether or not America likes it is none of their concern. For years they have made headlines for their unique parenting style, as well their eccentric twenty-year marriage. Most recently, they were the subject of public scrutiny when R&B singer August Alsina brought forth claims of an “entanglement” with Jada Pinkett Smith during a break in their marriage, which the couple confirmed during an episode of their Red Table Talk.
The Smith family are different than most, as at this point all have active careers in various aspects of the entertainment industry. Although protective of their children, they have often shared their decision to give them more freedom to express themselves, while easing up on punishing them.
Will once shared with E Online in an interview their ideals on discipline and responsibility. “We don’t do punishment,” Will explained. “The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been — it has a little too much of a negative quality.”
He added, “So when they do things — and you know, Jaden, he’s done things — you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life.”
Jaden chimed in, noting that he’s a fan of their technique, and explained how it affects his choices. “Other teenagers go to parties and sometimes I be like, ‘Why am I here right now?’” the young Smith said. “And most of the time, I just leave right then and there. Some things I don’t like to do, that other teenagers do. Everyone thinks that since you make movies, you go to parties, and I like to party, but not normal teenage parties.”
Prior to marrying Jada, Will had a son through a previous marriage with ex-wife Sheree Zampino named Trey, who can be seen in his music video for the Big Willie Style album, “Just The Two Of Us”. Though the relationship with the whole family has seemed picture-perfect for as long as can be remembered, things haven’t always been great, as even the relationship with Will and Trey was once strained, due to Will’s desire to create a “perfect life” for his two younger children.
The divorce between his mother and Will put a strain on the father-son relationship, especially when the blended family began to develop. Thankfully, the two have been and are “still healing and overcoming,” according to Smith. He further stated on his Facebook Watch show Bucket List that “really in the last two years has there been enough wisdom and emotional development to be able to lovingly address the issues.”
The father-son duo continue to build on their relationship, as can be seen in an Instagram post Will shared showcasing the two vacationing in Abu Dhabi. “It has not always been like this between Trey & I. We STRUGGLED FOR YEARS after my divorce from his mother,” the Bad Boys actor captioned the post. “He felt betrayed & abandoned. It is a wild blessing to recover & restore a loving relationship with my beautiful son!” In the video Smith states that his son relayed to him, “You know what dad? I just realized you’re not just my dad. I’m pretty sure you’re my best friend.”
The family has also created a “circle of safety” where the children are able to freely express their thoughts and feelings and be completely open with their parents without consequence, with one stipulation. “They’re allowed to tell us everything that they did and they can’t get in trouble,” Will stated during a 2016 Tonight Show appearance. “The rule is, if we find out after the circle of safety that there was something you didn’t say, there was hell to pay.”
They once shared an example where things maybe got too candid in the Smith household, thanks to Willow’s honesty. During another episode of the family’s Facebook Watch show, Jada recalled a time where their only daughter consumed some adult content as a preteen. “I remember the first time I went on Willow’s Tumblr, she was 10 or 11,” Jada remembered. “She was very matter of fact, she said, ‘I’m going to my Tumblr page but as we’re going to the Tumblr page you’re going to see a lot of stuff. This has nothing to do with me.’ So she’s just scrolling, scrolling. And when I tell you I saw some of the most hardcore pornography on Tumblr…”
Instead of lying about it, Willow spoke to her mother about it, although the two differ in their opinions on whether it was hardcore. Willow credits her level of maturity to her ability to be able to have open conversations with them as it pertains to any situation. “The thing that I will say though is that because I had you and daddy to actually have real conversations with, that stuff didn’t affect me,” Willow said. “Because I had a connection with people I could talk to about it. And I knew what the reality was.”
While it’s awesome that they are able to communicate in the manner they do via their “circle of safety”, Smith may be having a change of heart. In the midst of an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” Smith jokingly expressed that he’s encouraging his daughter to now back down on the “too honest” part of things. “As a father, you do not want a circle of safety with a 15-year-old daughter,” he said. “You do not. I’m like, ‘Baby, you need to start lying!’” He then went on to say that when those moments of hard conversation arise, he brings Jada into the picture saying “[I’m like] ‘Nope! You and your mom can talk about that one!’”
Smith continued, “As a father, if she needs a ride from the mall, you go pick her up, and you don’t say a word,” Jada advised. “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. Moms know girls.”