Thought for the Day:
“When you make a decision to have a child, you’re also making the decision to take responsibility for that child. You don’t abandon your obligation as a parent because you have other plans.”
Question for the Day:
“Are you giving your children enough guidance?
Okay, so this isn’t my first time writing about Will and Jada, so I suppose I’m running the risk of coming off like a hater. Yet, the truth is, I don’t really feel strongly about the Smith family one way or the other, but they certainly have a knack for giving me something to talk about! I recently came across an article that referenced an interview Will did a few years back that seemed to indicate that him and Jada regret some of their parenting choices, and might have taken their lax approach to child-rearing a bit too far. https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/will-smith-on-his-and-jada-pinkett-smiths-parenting-of-willow-and-jaden-i-think-we-may-have-gone-too-far.html/
For those who may not know, Will and Jada have been infamous for their “free range” parenting style that pretty much has little use for discipline, rules, or punishment. There is generally no emphasis on traditional education as most free range parents believe in allowing a child to figure things out on their own. To them, experience is the best teacher. In the article, it was also noted that the couple believed in treating their children as equals. Will goes on to further explain that since a person wouldn’t tell another adult to clean his or her room, they don’t ask their children to either because, they’re “equals” and all.
Yes, you said that Will. Don’t act confused now. Lol! Too be clear, “free range” as a term usually applies to chickens. When farmers are raising free range chickens, they basically don’t confine them to a coop and allow them access to the outdoors to feed. I imagine that allowing the chickens to forage for their own food instead of dumping feed on them by the shovelful, makes for healthier chickens. Yet, unlike the more nutrient rich food a chicken might find away from the roost, the farther children roam from home, the more unhealthy their choices become. Kids are likely to discover all manner of debauchery if they stray too far away from their parents’ reach. True, there’s a big beautiful world out there full of adventures and exciting new experiences. But, it’s also full of users, abusers, rapists, pedophiles, drug pushers, pimps, and traffickers so unless you’re old enough to handle those aspects of this “big beautiful world” also, a little parental supervision probably isn’t a bad idea.
Now, let’s not forget the very important fact that Will and Jada are much wealthier than the average family. Perhaps, it’s a bit easier for Hollywood children to roam free since there’s always a camera in their face and bodyguards on speed dial. There are also connections, money, and high profiled attorneys at the disposal of celebrity children who may find themselves in trouble. The average child however, especially a child of color in Trump’s America, would have to “explore” at their own risk. Also, if Will and Jada’s kids don’t get an education, there are millions of dollars that pretty much guarantee it won’t be of much consequence. I guess I wouldn’t believe in school either if I had enough money to make getting a job optional.
Judging by Jaden’s reasoning, it is clear that children shouldn’t be solely responsible for their own choices. When left to their own devices, kids will make irrational and immature decisions because, well, they’re kids! I don’t know what form of amnesia Will and Jada might have been suffering from, but surely they must remember making some dumb choices as younger versions of themselves. If that weren’t true, Will would have never opted to star in “Wild, Wild, West” over “The Matrix,” ijs. Yet, instead of cracking down more on their children who have easier access to sex, drugs and rock and roll as the offspring of Hollywood royalty, they decided that less was more. Well, the results kind of speak for themselves.
(13 year old Willow in bed with an adult)
Now, though it’s pretty clear that the kids are strange, as a therapist and the mother of a peculiar child myself, I know that a unique sense of self expression doesn’t have to be a problem. However, it’s the mental and emotional instability, floundering identity, poor boundaries, and apparent lack direction that are of greater concern. There was a reason Will expressed some regrets for how him and his wife have parented their children, so please don’t try to make me out to be the bad guy for stating the obvious. At some point, no matter how much you’re able to offer your children, what the majority of us want most is to know that our kids can survive in all circumstances. We naturally want to give them things, but expect that they will remain grateful for what they’ve been given, but still able to survive if those things go away.
As parents, we want our children to honestly assess life and develop an understanding of reality so that they can find their place and uncover their purpose. But if Willow doesn’t believe in time and Jaden doesn’t believe in eyes, it might be kind of difficult for them to develop a game plan for life beyond their Hollywood privilege. So just in case any of us regular parents are considering a free range approach to raising our kids, here are five risks to consider before you allow your babies to fly the coop.
Treating children as equals and/or friends undermines authority – Though I agree that children are intrinsically just as valuable as adults, God has placed parents in authority over their children. The Bible mentions the need for children to obey their parents enough times for me to feel comfortable with insisting my children follow the house rules. Effective leadership and structural organization is necessary for any system to run smoothly. There has to be a chain of command and a clear understanding of who’s going to make the final decision if members of the system disagree. In working families, parents have to boss up, period! Cleaning a room that is provided to you free of charge should never be optional. I consider my children friends to an extent, but them not doing chores would be making my life harder and that’s not something one of my homies would do. I can’t get with teaching children to value their personal desires over what’s good for others or the family as a unit, so if Willow and Jaden were mine? Get in their and clean that room. Homey don’t play that!
Structure makes children feel safe – As a therapist with experience as a children’s clinician, I feel confident in saying that children crave structure. Sure, they complain about rules and not getting everything that they want, but for those who don’t have parents who care, guidance becomes a welcomed demonstration of love and support. Most of us feel most secure when our lives are in order and we have a routine we can trust. Unpredictability, sudden changes, and unnecessary complications or “entanglements” can make life more unstable and anxiety-provoking which can lead to anxiety disorders and general feelings of insecurity and mistrust long-term.
Discipline and consequences represent love – Even the Word of God says that a parent who loves their child will discipline them, and I’m certainly not about to argue with Jesus. To correct foolish or dangerous behavior means that you care more about your child’s safety and survival than being liked. Yes, you will probably end up on your kid’s bad side when you chastise him or her for a poor decision. Yet, I would rather my child survive and live to learn another day than to lose them to foolishness that I was unwilling to address. For children of color, the stakes become even higher as bad decisions can lead to violence, imprisonment, and even death much quicker than their white counterparts, or the ultra rich like Will and Jada. I can live with my children being upset with me today for making their lives difficult. However, if I ever had to talk to them through a glass barrier because of a bad choice that I didn’t do enough to prevent, that would surely take me out. It’s better that our kids learn to accept our consequences first before they end up at the mercy of people who don’t love them and don’t mind seeing them suffer.
Education will always be important – In all honestly, I do take issue with today’s educational system and believe that it’s possible for a parent to do a better job at teaching their children than the public school system. But, even still, there is no excuse for a child spending over a year without any education like Jaden and Willow. You can be a student of life all day, but reading, writing and arithmetic will remain the foundations for all learning. Refusing to exercise those skills and then spending all your time theorizing on how a lack of knowledge is good, is a set up for entitled ignorance. I know Hollywood is not known much for humility and the Smiths may be no exception. Only arrogant people refuse knowledge. The humble understand that there’s always room for intellectual growth and remaining open to all sources of that growth is critical.
Teaching, guiding, counseling, correcting and directing children are parental requirements – In my personal opinion, “free range parenting” kind of comes off lazy, cowardly, and irresponsible. If I let my immature child make bad decisions and then throw my hands up as if I had nothing to do with it when the crap hits the fan, that’s a cop out. I then don’t have to take ownership for my part in my children’s missteps. The free range approach also seems to make it very easy for people to remain the “cool parents” by avoiding the conflict and push back that often comes naturally with disciplining teenagers. There’s essentially no way to do the work of parenting without stepping on your kids’ toes, but it’s a part of the job description. The Bible commands that we “train up a child in the way that they should go, and when they are old they shall not depart from it.” The Lord was smart to make it clear that they may not appreciate it until they’re old, because you’ll get plenty of side eyes in the meantime. Lol!
Bottom line, if you want good kids, you have to do the work. God didn’t give our babies to the world, He gave them to us so we can’t keep looking for ways to sidestep that responsibility. Yes, it’s difficult, frustrating, and exhausting to be fully engaged in another person’s life for 18 years, but this is what we signed up for. The Struggle is Real (*GLG Throwback 3/3/15) Raising children well is the hardest job on earth, but completing the assignment and giving the world a few more good people has eternal rewards that even fame and celebrity can’t match.
“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will give delight to your heart.”