Will Smith Calls His Divorce the 'Ultimate Failure'
Photo credit: Laura Cavanaugh - Getty Images
From men's health
In a special Father's Day edition of Red Table Talk, Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith had an open conversation about fatherhood.
Will Smith, who has three children, told how his father influenced his parenting.
If you're familiar with the Red Table Talk Facebook web series, you know that Jada Pinkett-Smith has had many honest and emotional conversations on a variety of topics, but the latest episode may have been the roughest ever. For the first time, Jada invited her husband Will to a one-on-one meeting in honor of Father's Day.
"When I was 6 I wanted to be a father," Smith began talking about his development as a father. "I thought it was great how my family was, but there were massive, critical flaws in my father's parenting that I wanted to correct."
He described his father, whom he referred to as Daddy-O, as a strict disciplinarian, who he suggests sometimes abused his mother. Smith admitted that there was a gap between them when he was younger. But he valued his father's wisdom and was able to figure out what he wanted to replicate and what not.
"I learned that school is everywhere. Everything you do has to be done well. Getting good grades doesn't mean cleaning the kitchen," said the bad boy actor.
At the age of 24 he got a first impression of fatherhood with his first son, Willard Carroll "Trey" Smith III, whom he now had with his ex-wife Sheree Zampino. Smith was moved to tears when he spoke of the experience.
When Trey was born, Will said to Jada that his first thought was, "I can't do it, I'm not the type."
Smith and Zampino separated two years later and he described the divorce as the "ultimate failure" of his adult life.
And although the Smiths did not deal with their own marriage in this episode, they responded to the criticism they had received from Trey's parenting along with their two other children, Jaden and Willow - especially the fact that they let their children work.
"Our family has been under the public microscope for a long time. I don't think people understood why we both appreciated this idea ... that the kids go to work," said Jada. "People thought we would force our children to work," added Will.
"And that it was part of life education for them in many ways," said the 48-year-old mother of two.
To compensate for the time he spent away from his children as an actor because of Will's journey, the Smiths chose homeschooling. "My children who are with me have a higher value than sitting in a classroom."
Photo credit: Frank Micelotta - Getty Images
And when it comes to his children's personal and professional activities, it's no surprise that they inherited their parents' combined all-star talent. Smith's parenting style, which he inherited from his own father, influenced his children and their achievements in their careers, he explains. For the most part, he said his posts worked. He described how Jaden worked tirelessly for his role in Karate Kid, and remembered that Jaden refused to stop working until he finally managed to break up. But when it came to his last child - and the only daughter, Willow - she vigorously rejected her father's hopes that her music career would go all-in after she released Whip My Hair in 2010 at the age of nine.
"I saw how much I did and forced to force and push the things I wanted, and at that moment I saw that she was starting to hurt," said the 51-year-old when it was over Willow and his dream for her went Earn a number one record. "My desire for her has overridden her desire for her."
Willow paused until she was a teenager. And when she finally came back, she built her career the way she wanted, Jada continued.
His upbringing style changed to reflect his children's feelings: with Trey, it was his decision not to play football after high school, even though he received several college offers. It was with Jaden during his experience working on the film After Earth that Smith vowed not to "shove or hammer" him, and with Willow it was her musical career after her hit single. "
The episode ended with each of the Smith children giving their father a personalized video message for Father's Day.
"There are no rules," Will said to Jada about parenting. "It's more art than science, and I love what we paint."
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