9 Parenting Tips From Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith Over the Years

Famous couple's advice for raising kids

By Kendall Fisher Jul 29, 2016 5:12 PMTags

Will Smith has been a big advocate of allowing his kids to be as open as they want with him throughout their childhood. However, as they have continued to get older—especially Willow Smith—he's started to realize there are just some things he doesn't want to know.

Jada Pinkett Smith's husband sat down with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show Thursday and opened up about one of the couple's parenting techniques: the "Circle of Safety."

Will explained how, when the kids were really young, they created this circle in which Willow and Jaden Smith were allowed to tell them anything they wanted—even all the bad things they might have done.

"They're allowed to tell us everything that they did [in the circle of safety], and they can't get in trouble," Will said. "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."

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However, now that Willow is in her teenage years, she's still telling them everything, and Will isn't so sure he's still interested in listening.

"As a father, you do not want a circle of safety with a 15-year-old daughter. You do not," he laughed. "I'm like, 'Baby, you need to start lying!'" He continued, joking about trying to get out of the circle, "[I'm like] 'Nope! You and your mom can talk about that one!'"

Of course, this not-so-standard parenting technique is just one of the many things Will and Jada have revealed over the years when it comes to raising their kids. 

Read more of their parenting advice below:

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Encourage Freedom of Expression:  Many people have wondered about Jaden's gender-bending style, but his parents are just happy to see him expressing himself.

After joking that this parenting technique may have "been a mistake," Will explained (Via Complex), "Jaden is 100 percent fearless, he will do anything. As a parent it's scary, it's really terrifying, but he is completely willing to live and die by his artistic decisions and he doesn't concern himself with what people think."

Smith also said they give Willow the same freedom.

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Don't Punish Them: "We don't do punishment. The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives," Will explained in an interview in 2013. "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 continued, "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."

Don't Pry: When Jimmy Fallon once asked Jada about her advice to him as a father of a little girl, Jada's biggest tip was to make sure he doesn't pry information out of her.

"As a father, if she needs a ride from the mall, you go pick her up, and you don't say a word," she said. "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."

She added, "I always tell Will, 'Just say I love you. Go pick her up, make sure she's safe. Leave it to me to ask all the questions.'"

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Let Your Daughter Have Full Control of Her Body: After Willow shaved off most of her hair in 2012, the Smiths were slammed with criticism for being too relaxed as parents. Jada took to her Facebook to address the topic of women controlling their own bodies:

"The question why I would let Willow cut her hair, first the let must be challenged," she wrote. "This is a world where women [and] girls are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves — that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self-determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are her domain."

Will also spoke about it in Parade. "When you have a little girl, it's like how can you teach her that you're in control of her body? She can't cut my hair but that's her hair," he explained. "She has got to have command of her body."

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Treat Them as Equals: In May 2013, Will sat down for an interview with Haute Living in which he revealed that he treats his children as he would any other adult.

"I think that, specifically in African American households, the idea coming out of slavery, there's a concept of your children being property and that was a major part that Jada and I released with our kids," he said. "We respect our children the way we would respect any other person. Things like cleaning up their room. You would never tell a full-grown adult to clean their room, so we don't tell our kids to clean their rooms."

He continued, "We tell our kids, 'You don't have a room, that's our room and we are letting you borrow it.' So the same way you would say to an adult if you let them use your car, you say, 'Yo man, clean my car! Don't drive around all filthy like that!' And it's perfectly reasonable for you to want an adult to clean your car, so we feel it's perfectly reasonable to ask our kids to clean the rooms that we are letting them use."

Jada also added to the conversation, telling Entertainment Tonight, "You have to be in partnership with them, there's no more dictating," she explained. "I did that with two—we adopted a nephew, and I had my goddaughter—and it just didn't go well. It just didn't." 

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Let Them Be Empowered By Their Own Self: Jada and Will don't believe in providing their opinions until after their children have presented their own.

"I'm not a conventional parent, which I take a lot of pride in," Jada told Us Weekly in 2014. "I don't just sit with Willow and go, 'Hey, this is what Mommy thinks. Let me just bring in a little reality to validate what Mommy's been talking to you about.'"

She continued, "What I do with Willow, is I give her the opportunity to be empowered by having herself first."

Don't Project Your Own Opinions Onto Them: Similarly to not giving their opinions first, the parents are adamant about not projecting their personal experiences onto their kids.

"I want my kids to be happy and I want them to be themselves," Jada told Net-a-Porter's The Edit. "I was saying to a friend the other day, 'Remember, our kids are not us.' They're not. Sometimes we're trying to fix things that happened to us or projecting [onto them], and that's a terrible, terrible trap."

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Allow Them to Pursue Any Dream: When asked about her kids taking on the spotlight—both have pursued careers in music and fashion—Will and Jada aren't about to hold them back.

"As a parent I will never ask my children to be less," Jada said in an interview with Chris Witherspoon. "I'm going to educate my children and empower them in a way that they can have whatever."

She continued, "I don't care if Willow wants to own a gas station. She better be a giant doing it."

Let Them Make Mistakes: Aside from not punishing them, Jada and Will are focused on allowing their kids to learn lessons on their own.

"I want to give them the opportunity to make mistakes and learn how to put boundaries on themselves," Jada told Health. "So by the time they're out of the house, they fly."

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