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Jada Pinkett Smith Recalls the Moment Her Son Came to Her With a "Devastating" Confession

Lorenzo Savage Stories /

Jada and Will Smith have always encouraged their kids to be open and honest with them. But when their son Jaden came to them with a shocking request, the celeb parents had no idea how to respond...

Caught off Guard

For a long time, Jada and Will Smith have been scrutinized for their parenting techniques. At one point, even Jada's mom referred to it as "crazy." But that never stopped them from being truthful about their ups and downs.

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During an episode of Red Table Talk, Jada discussed a difficult conversation she had with her son, Jaden. The mother of two didn't hold back from telling audiences how she felt disbelief at what her then-teenage son was saying to her. But what surprised fans, even more, was how she responded to Jaden's request.

"Devastating" Moment

Jada confessed that hearing what Jaden was asking for was not as surprising because she somewhat had expected it. But instead, it was "devastating" to hear her own son say those words to her. During the candid taping, the 50-year-old admitted it was "one of the most heartbreaking moments." 

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Facebook via Red Table Talk

But nevertheless, she still was taken aback by the conversation. Especially since, for so long, Jada and Jaden have shared such a close bond. Unlike other teenagers, Jaden and his little sister Willow often enjoyed their parent's company, as seen by their social media posts.

Brewing Tensions

When it comes down to the Red Table Talk, absolutely nothing is held back. The Smith family is arguably well known for being blunt and brutally honest whenever they sit around that circle table. And nothing was different during their episode about their son.

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Their ability to freely speak their minds with one another may be because the famous family is tight-knit with one another. They constantly give each other support. For instance, in 2019, during his performance at Coachella, Jaden brought upon both Will and Willow to join him on stage. But fans wondered why his mom wasn't there.

A Carefree Childhood

But we're not there just yet. So let's go back to where it all started: after getting married in 1997, Will and Jada welcomed their son into the world in 1998. And shortly after, Willow was born in 2000. Since then, the two stars vowed not to push any of their own interest onto their babies.

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Instead, they inspired them to go out and accomplish their dreams. Arguably many kids pull away from their parents because they are often too strict or harsh. But in Jaden and Willow's case, it was the exact opposite. All throughout the rapper's life, his parents both gave him the freedom to do basically whatever he wanted.

Controversial Parenting Style

Throughout the years, the Hollywood stars have become recognized for their easy-going parenting style. Despite what the public says about their approach, Will and Jada continue going about their ways. In 2013, Will even revealed to Metro, “We don’t do punishment.”

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"The way that we deal with our kids is [that] they are responsible for their lives… Our concept is as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible," the actor explained. "And the concept of punishment – our experience has been [that] it has a little too much of a negative quality."

Circle of Safety

The no punishment rule only works if both the kids and the adults in the relationship are truthful with one another. This is why Jada and Will made it a rule for their children to always, no matter what, be honest. To do this, they implemented a concept called the "circle of safety."

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Will explained on The Tonight Show in 2016, “[In the circle of safety, the kids are] allowed to tell us everything that they did, and they can’t get in trouble... The rule is, if we find out after the circle of safety that there was something you didn’t say, there was h*** to pay.”

Too Much Honesty?

For a while, this idea seemed to work wonders for the family... that was until Willow and Jaden got older, and things started to become a bit too open. Of course, it is probably nice for kids to not keep secrets - but at some point, Will and Jada started to wish some things didn't come out.

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Will admitted, “As a father, you do not want a circle of safety with a 15-year-old daughter. You do not… I’m like, ‘Baby, you need to start lying!’” At some point, he had to stop his daughter from talking and instead let his wife deal with it, “[I’m like,] ‘Nope! You and your mom can talk about that one!’”

Strained Relationship

Willow and her parent's relationship first took a hit when she started to become more well known to the public eye thanks to her music career. At age 11, the artist released the smash hit Whip My Hair, and while fans around the world loved the track, she herself did not.

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Willow admitted to her mom during a 2018 airing of Red Table Talk, "I definitely had to forgive you and daddy for that whole 'Whip My Hair' thing." She revealed that she felt a lot of pressure from her parents, but mainly from Will. "It was mostly daddy because he was so harsh at certain times." 

Trust Was Broken

Although Will and Jada attempted to create an open and close relationship with their kids, sometimes the youngsters felt the complete opposite. Willow revealed that it took a while for her to get back to a good place with them. "It was a couple of years, honestly."

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"Trying to regain trust for not feeling like I was being listened to or like no one cared how I felt." It was probably not so surprising for Willow's parents to hear the hard truth. After all, they always encouraged their kids to be straight up - whether it was with their words or their fashion choices. 

"100% Fearless"

As the Smith kids grew up, they pushed their own boundaries and never worried about how others viewed them. This was clear when Jaden appeared on a campaign for Louis Vuitton modeling a skirt, something that wasn't so surprising for his family members to see. Jada once admitted in 2016, "Jaden is 100 percent fearless."

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Facebook via Red Table Talk

"[Jaden] will do anything," her husband jumped in." 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." No matter what, Will and Jada supported their son - even when he asked a heartbreaking request.

Never Alone

“There’s a really powerful internal quality as an artist that as parents we encourage,” Will revealed about his parenting beliefs. “You gotta get out on the edge, [and] you have to try things. You have to be comfortable doing things that people don’t agree with, and you have to be comfortable doing things that you could fail.”

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From making movies at 11 years old to featuring on a hit song with Justin Bieber, Jaden's parents have stood by his side through it all, never intervening with his decisions. That was until one day, he made the decision to cut out all animal products and start eating a fully vegan diet.

Family Intervention

Jada often aired many family secrets on her Red Table Talk show that she hosts with her daughter and her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Norris. During one episode in 2019, where the family met with a health expert, the mother of two confessed that she and Will had to put an end to Jaden's eating habits.

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Facebook via Red Table Talk

"Will and I had a bit of an intervention with Jaden because he's a vegan now, but we realized he wasn't getting enough protein… So he was wasting away," she said, "He just looked drained, he was just depleted. He wasn't getting the nutrients." Will added, "There was even a little greyness to his skin. We got really nervous."

When Emergency Strikes

At some point, he felt so sick that he needed to see a doctor, "I was in so much pain in my stomach in the emergency room," Jaden said. So to ease his parent's minds and to feel better, he began eating eggs and cheese again, but still considered himself a vegetarian as he stays away from meat.

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Facebook via Red Table Talk

Sitting around the red table, Jaden admitted that he goes back to his old way every once in a while, but for the most part, he consumes enough protein and is overall relatively healthy. “I’ll go vegan for a week or so but for the past year, I’ve been vegetarian.”

Hitting Back

But their support didn't just stop with their son. Back in 2012, Willow shaved her hair, and since she was 12 years old at the time, the criticism hit Will and Jada. And they didn't take it lightly. "The question [is] why I would let Willow cut her hair. First, the [word] 'let' must be challenged," Jada defended her daughter.

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“This is a world where women & girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves… I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, her mind are her domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair.”

Growing Up 'Smith'

Despite the haters, Jada and Will's parenting styles were working for them. But when Jaden was 15, it seemed like all the encouragement they did to make sure their kids were 100% true to themselves and not afraid to push boundaries fired back on them.

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In 2018, Jada and her co-hosts invited Jaden onto the talk show for an episode titled "Growing Up Smith!" to discuss what it was like growing up in his shoes. The description gave a sneak peek at what fans could expect to see, "(Gammy) wonders if the kids may have been granted too much independence by their parents…"

"Pitfalls" Of Parenting

The episode started off with Jada and her mom Adrienne sitting at the Smith family home waiting for Willow and Jaden to finally arrive. While at first, it seemed like she was annoyed at the tardiness, she then realized that the kids were busy. "Well, you know, they're working… [Willow] and Jaden have rehearsals," she explained.

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Jada continued telling her mom the plans for that day's episode, "We're going to be talking about parenting, the joys... and pitfalls of parenting." Shortly after, her two kids walked in and sat around the infamous table. It didn't take long before many truth bombs began to come out about the famous family's life. 

A Mother's Love

"Jaden's my baby boy – my firstborn," Jada introduced him. "He's one of the most loving, gentle creatures that I know. Jaden's a musician, an actor, and an entrepreneur. He has a clothing line… his own record label, and a sustainably sourced spring water company because he cares about making the world a better place."

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She gushed, "I'm a proud mama when it comes to Jaden and Willow – of their successes and their compassion." But just like she openly discussed how proud she is, Jada also opened up about the hardships that come with parenting. At one point, the conversation took a deep turn when Jada brought up a painful past memory.

Creative or "Crazy?"

It started with Adrienne talking about how different her grandkids were raised when compared to her own parenting techniques she used on Jada. "We didn't give kids a whole lot of choice…" she revealed about how she was as a mom, "I felt like you guys had too much say over your own lives."

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The family laughed at that comment, but she went on, “[Jada] treated you like adults, and I just felt like, ‘He’s eight!’ He’s going to tell me what time he’s going to bed? It was their idea of parenting, [it] was so different to what I was used to. I was like, ‘These people are crazy!’”

Sharing Her Side

While Jada understood where her mom was coming from, she still stood by her and Will's untraditional parenting techniques. She explained to her kids, "I don't want to make decisions for you. I want to prepare you as quickly as possible and start to give you as much power over your life as quickly as I can."

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This topic segued into a rather deeper conversation as Jada recalled a time when she felt Jaden might have had a little too much independence. It seemed like Jaden had no idea that this topic was going to be discussed. But that didn't stop his mama from reminding him of a question he asked her a few years prior.

Painful Memories Unlocked

When he was a teenager, the PCH artist asked his parents if he could leave the family home and go out on his own. Looking into his son's eyes, Jada recalled, "You got to a point where you told me straight up. You were like, 'Mom, I have to leave here to live my life.'" Jaden remembered the moment and responded, "Totally."

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While her heart broke as a mother hearing her say son say that he no longer needed her, she understood his requests.  “I remember thinking to myself, as devastated as I was, I was like, ‘He’s right. The time is now; he’s 15. It’s time for him to leave the house.’”

Emancipated At 15

Once again, Adrienne didn't see eye to eye on how her daughter handled the situation. She intervened, "I would have never agreed with that." But rather than getting defensive, Jada explained that she wanted to see it from Jaden's perspective, especially since he was always more mature for his age.

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The 50-year-old actress admitted that his requests for emancipation weren't surprising. "I knew. I told Will – when Jaden was smaller – I said, 'We'll be lucky to keep him in the house until he's 16.' Because he was so mature. He was making films… he could really manage his own life."

Feeling Trapped

A major reason why Jaden was ready to jump into adulthood was the kind of freedom and opportunities he grew up with, thanks to the fame and success his parents had. Jada justified her son's beliefs, "Being in this lifestyle – in this world – is a bubble."

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Jada admitted that her childhood was different since she needed to be a "hustler." She understood why her 15-year-old son was so persistent about being on his own. "He wanted out, and I understood that because I didn't have the bubble. And I knew what – having my freedom outside of the bubble – what I gained from that."

A Mother's Intuition

Just like nearly all her parenting decisions, Jada's reaction to her son's request might not have been the traditional route that other moms would have taken. Instead of saying no and resisting the chance for Jaden to have his freedom, she said yes to giving him emancipation.

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Natt Lim / Contributor via Getty Images

"I knew that the sooner I let him go, the faster he was going to come back," she confessed. So for his 15th birthday, Will and Jada supposedly had filed the papers to get "divorced" from their son. But as it was later revealed, those claims were not true...

Not Leaving... Yet

Sure enough, Jada's parenting techniques worked. Her intuition told her that her baby boy wouldn't leave her forever, and she was right. In 2013, during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jaden admitted that he was not getting emancipated, after all.

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The teenager explained, “See, here’s the thing that you need to understand: I’m not going anywhere… The thing that people don’t get is [that] everything at this house is free! So I can get anything and everything at this house, so I’m going to be there [for] 20 [or] 30 more years.”

Finally Saying Goodbye

It wouldn't be another 5 years from the event until Jaden actually moved out of his childhood home. And yet, it was only a short drive from Will and Jada's property. In 2017, the singer was already 19 years old and settling into a Hidden Hills mansion that was said to be worth nearly $4 million dollars!

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Although Jaden ultimately decided to not emancipate from his parents at 15, he was eager to start a new life away from the family next after moving into his own place. And as it turned out, being on his own ended up being helpful for Jaden in many ways.

A New Perspective

After gaining independence from his parents, Jaden realized just how important family is. But it wasn't until he moved out that his viewpoint shifted. Not surprisingly, he admitted this during one the family's appearances on Red Table Talk hosted by his mom, grandma, and sister.

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“It just makes you appreciate being at home, being with your parents [and] spending quality time with family. You get out into the world, and then you just kind of just understand things.” And if it took him that long to understand that, we can't even imagine where he would be had he filed the emancipation paperwork at 15…

Struggles In The Spotlight

It seems like Jada's tactic of allowing him freedom ended up working in favor of both Jaden and his parents. This was ironic, considering their ways of parenting have also been judged by the Smith children themselves - especially when it came to their life as celebrities.

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Both Willow and Jaden rose to fame at around age 10. As they got older, they believed that they were too young to be in that type of lifestyle. Willow even confessed to her mom that singing a top hit so young was a “terrible experience.” She added, “The values of the people that were around me should have been the opposite.”

“Put in the Game Too Soon”

Willow's big brother reinterpreted her thought, "You're feeling about that was that you felt like you were put in the game too soon." He himself was thrown into the world of entertainment at a young age with both movies and with singing, so he knew what his sister meant.

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"I went through the same thing that Willow went through with 'Whip My Hair' with The Karate Kid. It was happening at the same time." Jada recalled a time on set when he was in a "full split, and he was in tears… He looked at me, [and] he's like, 'Mom, I'm good.' He got up, and he said, 'Let's do it again.'"

The Price of Fame

The 21-year-old artist continued explaining to her mom what her experience in the spotlight was like, “I think all that came with it was too much.” An understanding Jada listened to their words, but she also confessed that she thought it was the right thing to do.

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Instagram via @c.syresmith

Since both she and Will had to work extremely hard to achieve all that they have today, their mentality was the same when it came to their kids' futures. "Your dad and I, we were like, 'Oh man, she'll be set up for life. This is her start,'" the actress confessed.

The Takeaway

It looks like no matter what type of parenting style a family focuses on, there will always be downfalls and victories. Even Jada herself believes that there is no right or wrong rule when it comes to raising kids because “every child needs something different.”

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But perhaps the most important thing is to support family members through it all - as seen by the heartbreaking incident that occurred between Jada and her son. Asking to be emancipated is arguably a parent's worst nightmare, but the way she handled it seemingly led to one of the best decisions she ever made.