Appearing on the Father’s Day edition of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk,” the Hollywood actor spoke candidly about “the real weight of parenting.”
According to the “Bad Boys” star, who has Jaden, 21, and Willow, 19, with Pinkett Smith as well as Trey, 27, from his first marriage to Sheree Fletcher, his “fatherhood instincts” kicked in when he was just a child.
“From the time I was six years old, I wanted to be a father,” the 51-year-old said. “I loved how my family was, but there were massive critical deficiencies in my father’s parenting that I wanted to correct. By the time I was 10 years old, I remember looking at my father and thinking I could do it better than him.”
During the intimate one-on-one conversation, Smith opened up about a challenging chapter in his relationship with his daughter Willow, which proved to be a transformative experience.
Willow found fame in 2010 at the tender age of 9 with her monster hit “Whip My Hair.” But when the grueling demands of touring started to take their toll, she asked her father if she could quit the 30-date tour.
“She kept asking; she was like, ‘Daddy, it doesn’t matter how I feel?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, baby, it does matter how you feel, but you have to finish what you started,'” he told Pinkett-Smith.
Smith was convinced that he was doing the right thing by his daughter with his “military mindset” until she shaved her head bald in an act of “protest.”
Recalling the turning point, he said: “My desire for her was overriding her desire for her, and I had a real epiphany on that and how bad a person will hate you if you keep forcing your wishes onto their life.”
He said his daughter’s cry for help was the catalyst in changing his parenting style, and she “introduced me to feelings.”
Smith also got emotional when reflecting on becoming a father for the first time, at the age of 24.
“I think that was my first moment of the real weight of parenting,” he said. “I brought him (Trey) home, and I remember we put him in the bassinet… and it was like stark terror. It was like, ‘I’m totally responsible for this life.’ I just cried so hard. It makes me teary right now.”