On the latest episode of Red Table Talk, the topic was mom shaming, which in the age of social media is rampant as moms share glimpses into their children’s lives. It was a very insightful chat, as Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Jones talked to model Ashley Graham, actress Jessica Alba, therapist Dr. Ramani and everyday moms on the topic.
To start the episode, Jada talked about how she dealt with shaming because of the unorthodox way she raised Willow and Jaden. However, that shaming didn’t just impact Jada. The shaming also affected her mother, Adrienne.
“These people are talking about your children that they don’t even know. Making you guys out to be these brats, these Hollywood brats,” she said. “You were never that. Ever!”
“They weren’t raised typically, and I think especially for our community, it was something new,” Jada said.
It also greatly affected Willow, though. She said the shaming towards Jada was “a constant,” from the way she educated them to the way they exhibited self-expression (hair changes, Jaden dressing up in womenswear for a time). It left Willow feeling less than embraced, particularly when the criticisms came from from fellow Black people.
“Specifically with the African-American community, I kind of felt like me and Jaden were like shunned a little bit,” she said. “Like, ‘No, we’re not going to take pride in them ’cause they’re too different. They’re too weird.'”
“Even some of our family members,” she added. “I would feel they thought, ‘You’re too different.'”
Even when Willow went to events, people would “say things” and allude to her not being raised right, aka, traditionally.
“It was always like, ‘Oh it’s not your fault. Your mother should have taught you better,” she said. “‘It’s not your fault that you’re crazy, your mother should have…’ Why is it always ‘your mother’? ‘Your mother should have?'”
Jada and Adrienne acknowledged that there is a certain way in the community that we expect our kids to behave and act. Adrienne said it was hard for her to even relinquish control and let Jada fully parent her kids the way she wanted to because she did things so differently.
“It was difficult for me to even let go and give you guys free rein over your own children. ‘Get these folks in order cause them kids is running wild over there,'” she joked. “‘They’re going to bed whenever they feel like going to bed. No. No. No. It’s 8 o’clock.'”
“When I was younger I knew, whenever Gammy was around, it ain’t no joke,” Willow responded. “Uh uh, we ain’t doing the ‘But I feel like…’ mm-mm. It don’t matter. You’re going to do what she says.”
In the end though, Jada graciously said she could respect where people’s concerns came from, as well as the old-school way of parenting. However, she said the new-school way worked best for her and most importantly, her kids.
“You got some of the new school, you got the old school,” she said. “Old school was solid.”
“For me, looking at how my children were being affected, that’s what counts. When people were like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe you shaved Willow’s head!’ If they could have seen this child’s expression of freedom looking at her hair falling to the ground. Me as a mom, looking at that, experiencing that with her, there is nothing that anyone could say to me to tell me that it was wrong,” she added.