Will Smith joined wife Jada Pinkett Smith for her Facebook Watch show and they covered A LOT of emotional ground.
They talked about everything from Will’s childhood, his first marriage, divorce, and the mistakes he’s made parenting all three of his kids.
The two began their conversation with Jada asking when her husband first felt his “fatherhood instincts” kick in. For Will, it came at a young age in an abusive household, as he vowed to be different from his father.
He said, “From the time I was 6 years old, I wanted to be a father. I loved how my family was, but there were massive, critical deficiencies in my father’s parenting that I wanted to correct. I remember looking at my father thinking I could do it better than him. My father had a bit of a temper and I was a gentle kid. I was not a kid you had to slap or punch or beat, so growing up in a household where physical aggression was approved of, that really chaffed my hide, that hurt my spirit. There’s such beautiful qualities that he instilled that are a big part of me … but as the yin to every yang, I watched him beat up my mother. So the biggest emotional scar I have in this lifetime, he delivered that also. He showed me a lot of things that I wanted to do, but he also showed me the things I would absolutely, positively never do to my children. When he would get angry, he would turn into the dumbest person I ever met.”
Will said his father was a great teacher, who “believed school wasn’t the only place you got an education.” That’s something Will carried over when parenting his own kids, as Will added, “His thing was, you can’t father from a distance.”
Will first became a father in 1992, when he was just 24-years-old. At the time he was married to first wife Sheree Zampino.
He said, “I think that was my first moment of the real weight of parenting. We put him in the basinet and Sheree went to sleep and it was like stark terror. It was like, I’m totally responsible for this life and I just couldn’t stop going and checking. I gotta make sure he’s breathing and all that new parenting stuff. I just cried so hard, it makes me teary right now.”
Will and Sheree split in 1995, after 3 years of marriage. Will called the divorce “a really difficult time” in his life. He said,”Divorce was the worst thing in my adult life, divorce was the ultimate failure for me.”
Will married Jada two years later in 1997 and they have two children of their own; Jaden, 21, and Willow, 19.As Will began to speak about their kids together, he said “the high point of my parenting” came when he and Jaden would travel back and forth from Beijing every weekend while filming “The Karate Kid” to see Trey play high school football.
After being somewhat of a distant father to Trey, Will said he didn’t want to do the same thing with Willow and Jaden and that was part of the reason they were homeschooled.
The episode ended with all three kids sending in video messages proclaiming their love, appreciation and respect for their dad, which brought Will to tears.
Jada added, “You’re really a great father. Even as the kids are older, you’ve been such a great partner. I really appreciate the parenting partnership. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s definitely been worth it.”