Jada Pinkett Smith Says Letting Jaden Move Out At 15 Was “Heartbreaking” But Necessary
In the newest episode of Red Table Talk, Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith discussed parenting with special guest, Jaden Smith.
Of course, the parenting decisions of Jada and Will Smith have been met with a lot of criticism over the years as we’ve watched Willow and Jaden develop into free-thinking, independent artists. And as it turns out, how they reared their famous offspring was even met with confusion by the likes of Jada’s mom, Adrienne, who raised her kids completely different.
“We didn’t give kids a whole lot of choice. I felt like you guys had too much say over your own lives,” she said to Willow and Jaden. “Your mom and dad really had to really kind of break me out of that, because she treated you like…adults. And I just felt like, ‘He’s eight. He’s gonna tell me what time he’s going to bed?’ Their idea of parenting was so different from what I was used to. I was like, ‘These people are crazy!'”
But for Jada, she and Will felt releasing control over what Jaden and Willow could do was to their benefit.
“I don’t want to make decisions for you. I want to prepare you as quick as possible and start to give you as much power over your life as quickly as I can,” she said.
“I don’t own them. They have to belong to themselves.”
Still, the Smith children grew to appreciate certain boundaries and rules put in place when they were young. When they went out into the world to fend for themselves early, they found themselves confused about how to handle everyday things and people outside the Hollywood bubble. Their so-called “friends” expected them to pay for everything and they realized they were “a target” in a sense.
“This is what my parents have been protecting me from,” Jaden said of his takeaway. “This is why I can’t go and do this or this is why I never was allowed to do this when I was young.”
Still, that didn’t keep him from telling his parents at 15 that he wanted to move out. For Jada, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“It was probably one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life,” she said. “You got to a point where you told me straight up, you were like, ‘Mom, I have to leave here to live my life.’ And I remember thinking to myself, as devastated as I was, I was like, ‘He’s right. The time is now. He’s 15. It’s time for him to leave the house.'”
While mom, Adrienne, said, “I would’ve never agreed with that,” Jada said her children were much different than your average teens, and already much more mature.
“I told Will when Jaden was smaller, ‘We’ll be lucky to keep him in the house ’til he’s 16.’ Because he was so mature,” she said. “He was making films. He could really manage his own life. Being in this lifestyle, in this world, is a bubble. And he wanted out. And I understood that. Because I didn’t have the bubble. And I knew what having my freedom outside of the bubble, what I gained from that. And I knew that the sooner I let him go, the faster he was gonna come back.”
Jaden admitted that he could better value his family by having the space to thrive without them.
“It just makes you appreciate being at home, being with your parents, spending quality time with your family,” he said. “You get out into the world and then you kind of just kind of understand things.”
And even though there were a lot of side-eyes given to their approach, and even pushback from their kids about certain things (like Willow’s early music career), Will and Jada have been pleased with what has gone well, and forgiven themselves for what didn’t. Either way, they meant well with every decision made.
“I think parents have to give themselves much more forgiveness,” she said. “When you become a parent, you have these huge ideals, even for yourself, because we are all 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 going to have their burdens. And even though I see how it might have hurt you, it’s what I knew.”