Jada Pinkett Smith Reflects on Raising Kids in the Public Eye—and What She Would've Done Differently

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith's kids have been in the spotlight for years. But knowing what she knows now, would she have handled things differently? Read on to learn more.

By Elyse Dupre Dec 15, 2020 6:24 PMTags
Watch: E! Sits at the "Red Table" With Willow, Jada Pinkett Smith & Gammy

The Smiths are one famous family. But knowing what she knows now, would Jada Pinkett Smith have let Jaden Smith, 22, and Willow Smith, 20, enter the limelight as early as they did? The 49-year-old actress reflected on what she would have done differently during the Dec. 15th episode of the podcast Pretty Big Deal With Ashley Graham

"Life is an unfolding [sic], you know? It really is," said the Girls Trip star, who was joined by her mother and Red Table Talk co-host Adrienne Banfield-Norris. "We wish we could know everything at once and have all the information that we need, especially when it comes to parenting, right? Fortunately and unfortunately, you just have to go into things to recognize or realize what works and what doesn't."

Jada always knew her children's upbringing would be different than other kids'. "I knew that my children were creatives from day one, OK?" she said. "I knew that they were not conventional children and that was just going to be a part of their reality because their parents are not conventional at all. You know, Will [Smith] and I have never really lived conventional lives or had conventional ideas about life."

But looking back at Jaden and Willow's younger years, she admitted she "would have held off a bit in regards to how much they were allowed to be in the spotlight."

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Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith Through the Years

Still, they seemed prepared.

"I was very lucky of the combination of the fact that Willow and Jaden had themselves early and they had a certain fortitude to be able to have controversy, to have criticism," Jada shared. "And so when they came onto social media, they definitely have a different relationship than even I have to social media. They've actually taught me a lot in regards to what to pay attention to, what not to pay attention to. And they've really helped me navigate my relationship with social media."

George Pimentel/Getty Images

But preparing for the tabloids was an entirely different story.

"There have been times—and not even so much with Instagram or what have you—but just, like, gossip columns…in regards to how people would write about my children who they didn't even know. Like, had no idea," Jada said. "That was the thing for me that I really had to put on my big girl panties because I had to really sit in what I knew to be true as far as how I raise my children and how they took on their own beingness, right? And I'm glad I did that, but people definitely didn't make it easy."

Adrienne, 67, otherwise known as Gammy, said this only enhanced their bond as a family. "It makes you stronger because you know what the truth is," she said. "And it's unfortunate. You have to kind of sit in it and accept it and deal with it. But it seems very unfair. But the world isn't fair….I think you just learn over time that this is part of it, you know?"

Still, she acknowledged this is easier said than done. "Gammy wants to respond to everything," Jada added. "She wants to fight back."

All in all, Jada said she's learned a lot from Jaden, Willow and Trey Smith, the latter of whom Will welcomed with ex Sheree Zampino in 1992.

"Motherhood will teach you everything about yourself, in my opinion," she said. "One of the biggest things that I've learned is, like, I went through this period where I was just like, 'Oh my god! I'm sacrificing so much!'…What I came across was like, 'Well, that's because that's the woman you want to be. Nobody is taking anything from you, Jada. That's because this is the woman that you want to be.'

As she further explained, "A lot of times, our parenting choices aren't easy…and a lot of times they have to be really selfless, you know? And I just realized that in my motherhood, every step of the way, my kids were giving me opportunity to be the woman that I really wanted to be—not the fantasy, ideal Jada….And then just along the way, having to make choices every step of the way with my children of just like, 'Nope. That's the real you. Nope. That ain't glamorous is it? But that's the real you.'"

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