Jada Pinkett Smith on her parenting style: “I get why people would criticize”


Jada Pinkett Smith covers the July issue of Uptown Magazine, likely to promote that dumb TNT show that I believe just premiered its new season (HawthoRNe, meh). Surprisingly, Jada doesn’t talk about her sex life, like she almost always does. She doesn’t talk about what I’m guessing are her cheek implants, either. Those are implants, right? Like, she got one size down from Madonna’s chicken cutlet implants. So, what does Jada talk about? Her kids. Her music career. Seriously, I forgot she had a music career…?

On her 14-year-marriage to Will Smith: ‘People think that Will and I don’t spend a lot of time together. Too much time, actually, if you ask me… It’s always nice to have a little time apart. Sometimes you need that.’

Different priorities as a parent: ‘There was a time when all I had to worry about was myself. I’d get offers to do things – to go to Bolivia for three months or go to Prague – and now it’s like, I can’t. It’s not about me anymore, it’s about me being there for my kids. And there’s no one else I would leave that job to.’

Willow & Jaden are a lot like their parents: ‘Believe it or not, they’re both like me and Will… Willow’s a lot like me – just in the chances she’ll take. And then, Jaden has the drive of his father. Jaden and I are what I call introverted extroverts. Willow and Will are more pow! Jaden and I, well, we don’t give that to just anybody.’

Don’t worry about her kids: ‘There are so many other kids you can worry about. My kids? They’re going to be all right. I get why people would criticize. But people need to know that Will and I would never put our children in a situation that would bring them detriment. If I survived everything that I survived in Baltimore and Will survived everything he survived in Philly, these kids surely can survive the Hollywood game.’

On ending her music career: “I miss [my music career] tremendously, but it’s one of those things that I wear with a badge of honor because it expresses what I prioritize, and that’s my family. When Jaden did The Pursuit of Happyness, I was supposed to go on tour with Guns N’ Roses in Europe. It was probably the most heartbreaking experience. But what I realized is that sometimes God will place things in your life that will make you recognize what your priorities are. I adore my son; he’s my soul seed. There was no way that I was going to allow him to do [a movie] and not have his mother.”

[From Bossip & The Mail]

Okay, I’m not a huge fan of Jada in general, but I think she came across really well in this interview. If I was a parent, I don’t think I would put my kids out there like Will and Jada have, but ultimately, I do think Jada and Will have every right to raise their kids how they see fit, and I believe they are taking some precautions to shield their kids from the harsher parts of the industry. We’ll see if Jaden and Willow turn into grounded, well-adjusted adults years from now, but I don’t see the point in bashing the family at this point.

By the way, what always surprises me about the criticisms of the Smith kids is that so much it comes from the African-American community. Months ago, there was a huge thing when writer Terry McMillan accused Will and Jada of “exploiting” and “pimping” their kids. At the time, Jada reacted with surprising grace, saying in an interview:

“This isn’t about fame or money. They were still going to have their trials because of who their parents are. As much as I wish I could figure out a way I could protect my children, they have their destiny. I’m not going to put brakes on that out of fear. Our children are allowed to stay in the paradigm of being a child. They don’t have to take care of their families: become the complete emotional, physical and financial focus that happens to many child stars. Our family structure is a little different and it’s quite hard to comprehend because it’s so outside what usually happens in a family, but the paradigm is the same. You have Mother. You have Father. Father is protective. Mother is the teacher. Most of the time with child stars, the child has all the responsibilities and the mother and father don’t understand what’s actually happening to them, so the child can trust no one… But with us the paradigm stays the same because the child can still be the child with an extraordinary gift. It is something to manage. I will not overlook that. I have a 10 year old who can stand up in front of an audience of 17,000 and rock the house. I have to keep her grounded.”

[Jada’s comments via Starpulse]

I think she made a good point – they’re not traditional stage parents of child performers. This is not the Jackson family, for the love of God. They have the means and connections to let their kids have early careers, and maybe it’s all a learning experience.



Uptown Magazine photos courtesy of Bossip.

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55 Responses to “Jada Pinkett Smith on her parenting style: “I get why people would criticize””

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  1. mln76 says:

    Well, they are putting their kids out there for the public to embrace. In that case the public has the right to express their feelings about the situation. Will and Jada-Stop pushing your kids down our throats and we’ll stop giving our opinions about how you are raising them!!!

  2. renee says:


    Why are you surprised that members of the African-American community have been vocal in their criticism of Will and Jada’s parenting style? White people criticize other white folks all the time, and no one thinks anything of it. Besides, their kids are obnoxious and arrogant, which is what I think people are reacting to, never mind the fact that so many child starts seem to end up on the skids – ahem, I’m looking at you Lindsay Lohan. Maybe these folks who are criticizing want to see black Americans succeed in fields outside of the entertainment industry…and see these kids get an education.

  3. Kaiser says:

    Renee – I didn’t intend the admission of surprise as some kind of huge race thing, I just thought that Will and Jada would have had too much respect in the African-American community for another celebrity to criticize them. It would be like a Jewish writer saying “Steven Spielberg’s an a–hole.”

  4. constance says:


    1. We spend too much time together: You mean when you’re making sure he isn’t off being sauna-Bear with the other Co$ “manly men.” Or perhaps it’s because you both are still on the Budget Theta Busting plan and have to detox and can-handle each other everyday for hours.

    2. Sacrificed touring with GnR: It was heartbreaking to not being working? Or heartbreaking that you were touring with GnR? Personally, I haven’t been a GnR listener since… early 90s. Didn’t that tour have a lot of issues with cancellations, meager attendance, festival-hahaz, and band breakups? I don’t think her career would have exploded after a couple 6k room gigs and 20k festivals.

  5. Cherry says:

    Cheek implants? Seriously?

  6. Boo says:

    She loves the word “paradigm,” no? I find that people who use that word a lot are generally full of $hit.

  7. She took some lovely pictures. I feel very good about her perspective on this. She took the stance of explaining the situation rather than becoming defensive and critical of others. I have to give her props for that.

  8. You don't say says:

    I don’t agree with the over emphasis on having great careers in show business for young children. If folks are not doing the right thing, then they should be criticized for it. If Spielberg, Lucas, or any other famous set of parents were doing this, I would hope they too would be called out by whatever group they happen to be a part of.

    But, hopefully, their children will not end up on house arrest with an ankle braclet for monitoring and that they don’t get too deep into the Scientology cult, because that could lead to potential ruin for all involved.

  9. lulu says:

    I’m surprised you go so easy on this family.
    It doesn’t matter how you turn this – and you can ask many,many former child stars – it isn’t healthy for kids to be in public to this degree. They were already going to have to suffer a bit of it because of their parents, but EVERYTHING about these kids from their hairstyles to their clothing is for the public. How are they ever going to interact with average children? Saying it’s their destiny or their choice is ridiculous: if society thinks kids of nine years of age can make such important choices, then let them vote. Let them drive cars. Let them have sex and drink alcohol.
    The job of parenting is indeed ‘protect’ and ‘teach’ (and how narrow-minded of Jada to assign those as gender specific roles in a world where plenty of single parents are doing both very effectively) and it seems to me they are failing on both counts.
    I believe Willow has said on occasion that she would like to be able to attend school more often? How sad is that? Give these kids a normal classroom, some space to run in, and let them get dirty in normal clothes.

  10. Blue says:

    I know he’s all grown up and not in the media but how come they never talk about Tre? I never even see that kid anymore. I know it’s all about the young ones becoming stars. Maybe that’s how he wants it & I’m reading to much into but it bugs me when people act like Jaden & Willow are the only kids

  11. mln76 says:

    @Blue but Tre isn’t her son so maybe she wasn’t asked or didn’t feel comfortable commenting on him…Also he seems to be doing well didn’t he win a big football championship last year??? I think he’s the ‘normal’ Smith.

  12. fabgrrl says:

    She always looks so cold, so hard. Maybe that is just how she photographs? I do NOT like this woman.

  13. renee says:

    Hey Kaiser,

    I don’t know how much respect Will and Jada have in African-American communities. I mean, they certainly have their fans but there are also a lot of people who do not like them (never mind the queerphobic factions who think that they are both bearding for each other). Regarding Spielberg, when Schindler’s List was in theatres he received a lot of criticism from other Jewish people…some people were like, oh, so now you are Jewish (he himself has spoken about how he “came out” as a Jew late in life) and other people doubted his sincerity with making the film.

    I think that no community is a monolith, and haters will always wanna be hatin’ …but I know a lot of people who think that Will and Jada are looney and would have no problem with their being criticized.

  14. gamblea says:

    Good photoshop or whatever but it’s nice to see her face settle in even though it doesn’t look like her face. All the face jacking was scaring me.
    Does she hate pants?

  15. Kaiser says:

    Renee – I see your point, but I’ll admit that it still surprises me. To be fair, I think Terry McMillan got a lot of criticism for her criticism, and she ended up trying to take it back.

  16. grazi says:

    I cant stand famous parents that force their kids down peoples throat. And I dont think being the kid of celebrities, who raise and make them something for public consumption, corresponds exactly to “extraordinary gift”.
    *pulling on a KS and rolling my eyes*

  17. mln76 says:

    @Kaiser I think what happened to Terry was unfair and had more to do with Will Smith’s status in the industry than what she actually said. Smith is successful in the African-American community so in certain ways he’s untouchable. People are proud of his achievements and don’t want to hear any criticism of him.

  18. Blue says:

    @mln I hope he’s the normal one. I just got used to seeing him with the family, then he disappeared. Good for him though staying out if the media

  19. Whatever says:

    Meh, their only ‘extraordinary gift’ is parents who shove them down our throats. Will and Jada need to take home movies of their kids like normal parents and spare the rest of us.

  20. LunaT says:

    If her kids wanted to work in a coal mine, would she let them because they needed to shine and she couldn’t contain the paradigm of fabulousness that is her family? Doubt it. What about plays at school? Community theatre? Singing in the Scientology choir? I kid about the last one, but there are lots of ways to let your child explore their interests. Obviously, the $ of Ma and Pa Paradigm helped buy their children careers. Yah, that’s not gonna eff w/the kids’ perception of how the world works and their place in it.

    Poor Jada—she used to be able to go to work in Bolivia for three mos, but she had to give adventures like that up when she became a mother. Awww, so sad. She has to give up roles in crappy movies, which she doesn’t need to be in b/c she has a ton of $, so she can take care of her children. Rough life.

    @lulu— I thought the same thing about the roles Mother and Father are supposed to play. Guess my husband and I are bad bad parents b/c we have not been staying in our proper roles. Maybe Jada will be writing a parenting book soon to help us out. (can you imagine? I can. She’d love it.)

  21. nofrank says:

    You know, I’ve always kind of gotten the idea that the Smith kids are doing this because they want to and Will and Jada are signing on to it for that reason. I don’t think they are pimping the kids out. Those kids are having too much fun with show business and I give Will and Jada credit for always being with them while they do this stuff. Maybe the kids will decide later that they don’t want to be in show business and that’s fine, but at least they are getting a taste of it with their parents standing by to make sure they are okay. I can’t gripe about that.

  22. Kara Ann says:

    Before they allowed/encouraged their kids into the media, I really like these two as a couple. Individually, I really liked Will Smith. Having watched the little bits of their children that I can stand, I find the kids to be obnoxious and arrogant. Perfect adjectives, Renee! Now I just don’t feel the same way about them (the parents).

  23. melangie says:

    I take issue with the notion that her kids have *extraordinary gifts*. Am I the only one that had to suffer through Karate Kid? Is Jada proud parent, yes- talent show judge, not so much.

  24. heebeegeebee says:

    Cheek implants on both ends, looks like.

  25. aenflex says:

    Intelligence in these types of dynamics really can save the situation. They are smart people. Their kids are no doubt smart, and I highly doubt they are pressured either. But I still think kids should not be allowed to make HUGE career choices until they have gotten a bit older. I mean at least 16, right? 18? Practicing music is one thing. Putting aside school and youth and naivete is another thing.

  26. John Wayne Lives says:

    I don’t really “get” them, but her interview, and response to TM criticism made me respect them.
    And btw, what the hell is terry m. doing accusing them of anything?! She used her divorce and unfinished buisness to drum up interest on her new book. I saw that interview on Oprah, and she was so arrogant and bitter, it was so distasteful and ugly. Really turned me off to her. I don’t think parents helping their children follow their dreams deserve more negativity than a woman who grossly airs her dirty laundry.
    Ultimately, I hope Will and Jada’s children avoid the horrible fate that seems to find so many child stars. Seems a tight rope to walk…

  27. malachais says:

    Her musical career wasn’t even successful. Beyond the fact that she is ‘connected’ to so many celebrities, there wouldn’t have been so much hype about her band to begin with.

    I think those kids will be OK for the next few years. Beyond that they will more than likely be a tragic mess. I don’t really think Will/Jada are doing anything wrong except networking with their celebrity friends, in an effort to set them up for a future career. I don’t agree or disagree but I will say there is a high chance those kids will not stay grounded by any means.

    I can’t imagine what she looks like in person, considering she is tiny and thin – with giant cheek implants protruding from her face, good grief.

  28. Kate says:

    Why is it that they NEVER talk about (or even acknowledge) their other kid? They have three, no?

  29. Mia135 says:

    “I just thought that Will and Jada would have had too much respect in the African-American community for another celebrity to criticize them.?

    As far as I’m aware Terry McMillan never appointed herself official spokesperson for the “African-American community”, so I don’t see what her criticism of the Smiths has to do with the African-American community.
    The African-American community is not a monolith. Some may like and respect the Smiths, others don’t. And because one famous black person says something doesn’t mean they are automatically speaking for all black people.

  30. Ari says:

    Regardless if the kids are in the biz now they were never going to be normal. No matter how much we want to complain about how bad it is and how education is important. I am pretty sure these kids have way better tutors and home schooling than most private schools.

    And there is nothing wrong with these kids wanting to be in show business. My parents were academic people and so they wanted us to be academic oriented as well – its the apple falling from the tree method. Doctors wants doctors, teachers want teachers, cops want cops, etc etc.

    I think Will and Jada managed something a lot of any color actors/musicians couldn’t do and that was be around for a very long time with the least amount of scandal (but there is always time! haha)

    After reading this article and the fact that she did pass up a chance to work with G&R (I totally get the appeal from my own youth) to be there for her child in that stead, I actually grinned.

  31. Thea says:

    I use to really like Will Smith. But the older he gets the weirder this whole bunch becomes. And Jada is “hard” looking to me. I mean she is attractive but she has the coldest darkest eyes I think I have ever seen. And the other child Tre, was with someone else and it is like he has been outcast. I can just imagine the dysfunction thats going to come out from this family. II dont think they should expose their children but it is their children so ….they have to live with that, but there is just something odd about these two and has been for years. She always seems so smug and arrogant. And seems like the ball breaker in the house. I can see her the head of the family really.

  32. Violet says:

    @Kate, the eldest child is from Will’s first marriage so he’s not Jada’s.

    I have mixed feelings about their kids. In a lot of ways, I get the sense that the kids are the ones pushing to be in the public eye but I’m not necessarily convinced that it’s good for them at such a young age. Most young stars grow up to be completely dysfunctional adults.

    As for Will and Jada, their open marriage is no secret in Hollywood. They’ve alluded to it in a number of interviews, although I don’t think they’ve ever confirmed it outright to the press, no doubt for career reasons.

  33. OhMyMy says:

    She scares me which I why I won’t watch Hawthorne even I try to give the new TNT shows a chance. Actually the whole family is on my “do not watch” list.

  34. xxodettexx says:

    wow, for once i agree with her words and i love how classy she was about the criticism she and will get from americans about their parenting… instead of being a bitch and calling the gossip world a bunch of mom-jean-wearing pathetic losers, she related and then explained how she doesnt agree WITHOUT PUTTING ANYONE DOWN… anyway, loved that, plus she is correct: she and will are not typical parents and thus, her kids will not have a typical life

  35. Leticia says:

    In my opinion, her two kids are arrogant and entitled, with mediocre talent and over-inflated self worth.

  36. bluhare says:

    Well I did check out Hawthorne a couple of times last year, but won’t be this year. She hired Skeletor and even an hour a week is too much of his mug for me.

    @Leticia: Cosign!!!

  37. gee says:

    II think she comes off well in these interviews, and I don’t like her at all.

  38. JustBe says:

    I really like the broad range of comments on this thread.

    I have to agree with most of the comments here, something seems a little bit off about Will & Jada as a couple and about their parenting choices.

    It seems like too often Jada inevitably over shares in some way in almost every interview. Like if the reporter were to ask, she’d be ever so willing to describe the color and material of the underwear that each family member is wearing today. It’s a little perplexing. On the other hand, I do appreciate it when celebs provide the public with a small glimpse into their lives, Jada seems to take it to another level like she needs to provide details to prove that she has a great marriage and is a great mother with great kids. Maybe she feels a tremendous amount of pressure from the public scrutiny to do so.

    As far as their kids careers, I’m in agreement with most other posters. When you are wealthy, you have the option (and most likely should) shield your children from the harshness of public life. They may love to perform, but they would get more consistent and honest feedback from performing in school plays/shows and community theater. As it stands now, they have a team of yes-men surrounding them constantly tweaking their ‘image’, defining what’s supposed to be their personal style and reproducing their ‘natural’ gifts.

    Also, just because your child may want to act/sing, you don’t have to put them out there. It’s your job as a parent to honestly assess what they have naturally. If your child has an unbelievable innate talent like a Dakota Fanning or the young opera singer on the America’s Got Talent, that’s one thing. But, when your kid needs months of acting lessons and/or constant autotuning, those aren’t gifts.

    I know that being the offspring of celebs would not have allowed them to have normal childhoods, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be a lot like normal kids.

  39. lucy2 says:

    Lulu and Luna I agree with your posts. If their kids want to do it, that’s great, but it’s up to the parents to PARENT and know when the right time is. And IMO, 10 is way too young. Totally agree with those who’ve said there are other outlets for the creativity and talent besides a huge pop or movie career in front of millions.

    She’s pretty, but does have a hard face.

  40. gab says:

    Wow she is all kinds of harsh. And I’ll pass on her “gifted” kids – I get enough of that with the neighborhood kids!! Sheesh…..

  41. 4Real says:

    Come on now I have to draw the line at the possibility of “cheek implants”.

    Oh and THANKS JADA for covering your mangled belly!

  42. Amanda G says:

    I will never like this woman, which is probably why I find her kids to be so obnoxious. Especially Jaden.

    @Kate – the eldest child is Will’s and he did appear on Oprah last year (I think) with the rest of the family. He’s just not into show biz.

  43. april says:

    I like her. I think she tells it like it is. I saw her on a talk show last night and she came across very wise in her answers.

  44. Nah, nah, and nah... says:

    As an African-American wife and mother, I think:
    1.) Kaiser & Renee’s discussion on this topic was…interesting. Big ups to Kaiser, tho, for the great responses. Seriously. Not a lot of bloggers could have held their own on this race-cardy one. Good look. I’ll keep readin’.
    2.) Will & Jada are skeptical as all get out and always will be on just about every level, but they’ve made a positive commitment to their relationship and family that most folks criticizing haven’t and can’t. Respect for that alone. Whatever is going on behind the scenes will always, rightfully, be their business, no matter how creepy it may seem to the rest of us. If it’s not abuse and all parties are co-signing, go for it! Those criticizing need to have a ten year marriage with 2 1/2 kids that can carry on an articulate conversation, let alone break any kind of records, and I’ll respect what you have to say about them because you’re almost in their league. Otherwise, you’re kinda just hatin’ from the back of the line.
    3.) Trey has a mother and step-father that also have to be considered in the decision making regarding his life. Jada’s opinion, childrearing and otherwise, come after that. This is probably why we hear less about him. Put yourself in his mama’s shoes and decide how much you’d want Jada (regardless as to how you feel about her as a personality) to speak and act for you and your child. As already stated, she’s kinda “hard.” I did love her in this interview, tho. The Philly/Baltimore/Hollywood reference is so on point and resonated with me, for real.
    4.) My biggest disappointment about the whole Terry McMillan thing was, she seems to have forgotten about back when African-Americans of merit didn’t take her seriously, when people regularly hated on her as a fluke specializing in fluff like she hated on these kids and this family. She broke nonconventional ground, just like these kids, and all she could do was criticize? She’s also a mother of a young man, a young African-American man, and is well aware of how they need to be supported for their positive efforts and corrected for the negative ones. Jayden is not rapping about robbing and shooting and hoes. So, whoever put him up to it, he needs to be applauded for that success. And really? Terry of the broken marriage to Jooonnnnnnnnathan! criticizing Will and Jada’s family and marriage? We were supposed to take her words seriously and not just allow her the right to her opinion as an American? I think Will and Jada won that before Terry put fingers to keyboard – retraction or not. Jada was probably the first to laugh and keep on keepin’ on with that one. Ms. McMillan is entitled to her opinion and its expression, but really? Really Terry? Criticizing a Hollywood NUCLEAR FAMILY? And African-American MALES? NOT your strong suit or specialty, Ma.
    5.) The whole African-Americans are not a monolith thing? Played. Maybe more people would actually believe that if more African-Americans would stop saying words like monolith and just give their opinions, without retractions like Terry’s, if that is how they really feel. Whether its right or wrong, say it if its your thing and don’t be offended if someone else frames it in an African-American context. It is what it is. Just be ready to defend if Kaiser comes back at ya. lol

  45. Liana says:

    Willow Smith, preteen, has said repeatedly that she doesn’t go to school, doesn’t even do her lessons with her tutors because she “doesn’t have time,” and yet Emma Watson is given crap here for deferring college.

  46. jenni says:

    At least the Smiths seem to have thought it through a lot. I wonder how much more damaging it is for the Smith children, really, to be famous for performing, as it is damaging for other celebrity children to be famous for nothing? Other celebrities take their kids to public events, or are featured with them in mags or create interest in them by talking about them, etc. I think that provokes as many values/parenting questions as letting your kids do movies? It is forcing the child to be subjected to scrutiny, attention- for nothing. That seems like it would create more simultaneous entitlement and insecurity in a child than inevitable attention-so why not perform and feel you have attention for a personal reason? In a way it seems like the Smiths are simply acknowledging and sharing the stage with their kids …who may soon upstage them, which they have probably thought about, and doesn’t that show the heart of a good parent? You want your kid to do even better than you? Most celeb kids do have innate, genetic performing talents. They may say they want their kids to not be in the industry but nature, nurture, environment and what opportunities you have play a huge role in what your kids will try to do. I dont judge entertainers for making their kids public in whatever ways, because I cant really imagine that life and all the considerations that I have no clue about.

  47. anons says:

    weird reading a parenting laced article accompanied by scantily clad mom pics.

  48. jenni says:

    I do think it’s a little …premature and over confident to say “my kids? They’re going to be alright”…. I hope so and they probably will, but life has a way of throwing us for loops.

  49. crtb says:

    Am I the only one that had to suffer through Karate Kid? Is Jada proud parent, yes- talent show judge, not so much.

    Love,loved, loved, Karate Kid and I find their son to be very talented. Thier daughter not at all. I think they are doing her a great dis-service to let her skip out on her lessons. She can hardly read. No one knows what her future will be and if singing and acting doesn’t work out she will need education.

  50. crtb says:

    I think Jada is beautiful and those cheek implants look great!

  51. original kate says:

    jada is very pretty but her face reminds me of a knife – hard and cold. her kids seem like typical spoiled rich kids to me; whether they are worse than other spoiled rich kids i have no idea.

  52. cutesygoose says:

    @xxodettexx — who says it’s just Americans criticizing Pinkett & Smith?

  53. mzjask says:

    really surprised with all the haters on here.

    hate dina lohan bc she does too little.
    hate the smiths bc they do too much?

    none of us are perfect, people.

  54. betty says:

    Commenting as a mother and grandmother one cannot assume how kids will turnout regardless of their background.The only thing any parent can do is teach them and hope for the best.Most kids feel entitled nowadays regardless of their financial background just look at the luxuries kids have nowadays even from parents that can’t afford them. The Smiths kids happen to have talent and they can afford to let their kids pursue it.I bet if they came from a humble background their would not be such criticism.I noticed you never heard that type of criticism when the Jackson 5 or the Osmonds got started .Those kids stayed out of trouble and seemed well grounded. As adults they make their own choices.