Willow Smith is opening up more about her life experiences. Sitting down for a recent episode of Red Table Talk with her mom Jada Pinkett Smith and her grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Smith spoke about her earlier relationship with her parents. At one point, she reflected on moments when she felt like she had been shamed by her mom, including at times when she was emotionally struggling.
Willow Smith said she was shamed as a child
The revelations came in the Sept. 28 episode of Red Table Talk. Smith and her family were speaking with Brene Brown, a best-selling author who says on her website that she studies “courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy,” when the conversation turned to shame.
Around the 14:00 mark, they started discussing the use of shame as a parenting tool. “For children, shame is the threat of being unlovable,” Brown said. “I think about the times where I’ve used shame with one of my children. And it’s the most devastating thing I can think of.”
Chiming in, Pinkett Smith said, “It’s something we’re taught. Like, the way that you just expressed that in parenting, I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ I’m like, ‘I never even saw it that way.’ But I did really try, especially in raising Willow, in trying not to put shame around her social development. You know, trying to raise a young woman and what a young woman goes through, but not recognizing how detrimental that is. Using shame as a parenting tool.”
“Aww, it’s OK. I forgive you,” Smith replied, reaching across the table to grab her hand. “I remember, but I forgive you.”
Willow Smith recalled being shamed when she would become emotional
Asked to share an example, Smith said there were times when her mother would become dismissive towards her when she would get emotional.
“When I was younger, I would just get super emotional and like I get super emotional now,” she continued. “But you would look at me and then you would just be like, ‘Yeah, you can like cry, but do it over there. Like go into your room and do it over there.’ Like you pushing me away for crying like I’m a bad person for crying.”
Pinkett Smith admitted that she was dealing with her own problems but grew to understand how her behavior wasn’t OK.
“I do recognize those moments and it had a lot to do with me not being able to handle my own vulnerability at that time. Just growing up in those environments we grew up in, you know, and it’s a different playing field now,” she said.
It’s not the first time Willow Smith has admitted such a thing
Smith echoed those sentiments in a November 2019 episode that featured Demi Moore and her daughters, Rumer and Tallulah Willis, whom she shares with Bruce Willis.
At the time, Moore had just released her tell-all book, Inside Out, where she discussed her career, relationships, and personal struggles, including a fallout with her children. At one point, Tallulah said that as the child of a celebrity, she felt she always had to be strong and wasn’t allowed to display emotions. Smith agreed with her, saying:
“Back in the day if I would have been crying or had been upset, the energy was always like, ‘Take that somewhere else.’ Like, take that somewhere else and deal with it on your own.”
Offering up an explanation, Pinkett Smith said she “didn’t want to be with [her] own feelings” and that she felt she had to be strong because of her own upbringing, during which her mother had a heroin addiction. But eventually, she began to soften and “got to a place of vulnerability where I could cry in front of Willow.”
Luckily, they have built a relationship and a platform where they can be open with one another. Fans can see more of these two now on Red Table Talk on Facebook Watch.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
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