We’ve repeatedly written about parents who were in some way emotionally unavailable to their children. While the love was there, unhealed traumas or tough upbringings have kept them from connecting to their children in the way they’re “supposed” to and in ways that would be the most beneficial for the child.
Yesterday, on “Red Table Talk,” the hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris (Gammy) and Willow sat down with Demi Moore and her two daughters Rumer and Tallulah Willis to talk about healing from the trauma of painful mother-daughter relationships and how women who have to raise themselves can sometimes be closed off from their own children.
Demi had an unbelievably difficult relationship with her mother, including an incident where her mother sold her to a man for $500.
Naturally, with that type of background, Demi had to look out for and in a lot of ways build herself. Jada’s own relationship with her mother was similar, given the fact that Gammy was addicted to drugs for several years. (She’s been clean and sober for 28 years.)
Rumer, Talulah and Willow all agreed that their mothers were “forged” from fire. And while they admire and respect the tenacity that allowed them to survive, it made them ill-equipped for the softer stuff. That’s when Jada admitted that there were times when she was offended by Willow’s tears.
You can see what the women had to say, in the transcript below.
Demi: I can be upset, I can be angry. But what’s the point? I know I’m going to have to get to this other place, so let’s just get there.
Jada: Willow had a moment the other day, when you had an upset and you were crying on the couch and I just came to you and held you. And I said to myself, ‘I wish I had done this more with her.’ When you can just hold your little girl, have her tears, have her pain.
Willow: Back in the day, if I would be crying or have an upset, the energy was always like, ‘Take that somewhere else. Take that somewhere else.’ And deal with it on your own.
Jada: Yeah. Because that’s how I was treating myself. I didn’t want to be with my own feelings.
Demi: I do think in your survival mechanism, that toughness that I’m so grateful that I had but when it seems that you’re not affected or that you handle things so well, on the outside I realized that I did a disservice by not letting them see me weak. I think we need to show them not only our strength but how we process disappointment, upset, hurt.
Jada: That was the place that I got to, a place of vulnerability where I could cry in front of Willow.
Willow: It took you a long time.
Jada: Because of that forging, there’s this wall, this armor. And I was thinking about how it does a disservice to everybody we love, including ourselves…I definitely overcompensated. And I want to just take a moment and just say to you, ‘I’m sorry.’ You know, because you want to create safety, vulnerability is not safe. The way that we grew up, the way that my mother grew up, you feel like you have to be strong. And the first thing you want to do is teach your girls how to be strong.
Gammy: Because you didn’t have a choice.
Jada: We didn’t have a choice.
Demi: Your baseline was like life or death.
Jada: So as we come into our healing, as we come into our softness and vulnerability, there was a time when her tears were so offensive to me. So offensive. Which is why I was like, ‘Take that over there. We can’t afford that here.’ Not realizing, ‘Bitch, you can afford it here. You’re not in Baltimore anymore. You absolutely can afford that here.’ But I have to confront that fact that I denied her that. And I have to confront the fact that I can give it to her now and I can nurture now.
You can watch the full “Red Table Talk” episode in the video below.