Will SmithHaute Living about his upcoming film, After Earth, Will Smith said the dynamics between the relationship with Jaden is something they brought to the movie. Haute Living asked Will, if there were any similarities between the way he was raised and how he raises his own children, and here is what he had to say:

“There are definite similarities. I grew up in a family business so my father, my mother and all my brothers and sisters worked in the family business, so that’s really the only way I know how to parent. In real situations, you are going out in the real world and you are earning real money. The things you say and do in the world will affect the family for real. My style of parenting is very similar to that of my parents, minus the concept of ownership. I think that, specifically in African-American households, the idea coming out of slavery, there’s a concept of your children being property and that was a major part that Jada and I released with our kids. We respect our children the way we would respect any other person. Things like cleaning up their room. You would never tell a full-grown adult to clean their room, so we don’t tell our kids to clean their rooms. Actually, we tell our kids ‘you don’t have a room, that’s our room and we are letting you borrow it.’ So the same way you would say to an adult if you let them use car, you say, ‘Yo man, clean my car! Don’t drive around all filthy like that!’ And it’s perfectly reasonable for you to want an adult to clean your car, so we feel it’s perfectly reasonable to ask our kids to clean the rooms that we are letting them use.”

Personally, I know plenty of parents, off all ethnicities, that abide by the “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out if you don’t fulfill the obligations laid out for you” credo.  As a parent to a 14-year-old, there are certain “freedoms” I offer my son, but he still knows who’s boss.

Then of course there was the question of rumors about Jaden wanting to be emancipated, which he put to rest as well:

“Yeah, that was a joke! I made a joke. He is definitely not going anywhere; he is so scared of being out on his own. Willow is probably going to be emancipated before Jaden! I think I was in Tokyo where I made a joke that if he has a day where his movie is bigger than one of mine then there’s no reason for him to live in my house. His 15th birthday is coming up so he can probably be emancipated.”

So what do you think about Will’s comparison of  slavery and raising children?

For some lighthearted fun, here’s a video from Jaden and Will’s recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show:

  • Fredsan

    To much money makes folks strange!!!!

  • John

    Will should just stick to acting. The job of raising a child into a responsible adult, one does assume responsibility or ownership of that child. I am for allowing a child to have an opinion, but structure and boundaries are essential to the socialization of a child. A child needs to be aware of a child’s place. I am all for having the child go out and work to begin to earn a living as Jaden and Willow are doing, but at the end of the day, they are children and need to have those experiences in order to make the transition into adulthood. Now to compare child rearing to slavery is just idiotic and reeks of cultural insensitivity. I would like to ask Will based on the fact that me parents raised me with the aspect of that they owned me, does that make me a product of slavery? Does the way he and Jada raise their children make them better than?

  • Margaret

    First of all I am not a Will Smith fan. That said, I kind of agree with him. I think a lot of people do treat their children like property and in some way think that parenting means bossing people around and making them do things. All while showing them little, if any respect.

    And of course we do expect our children to respect us. So…how do you teach someone to respect another person? By modeling the same behavior

    Parenting is nurturing, teaching and providing guidance. While doing that you provide structure. It is not necessary to disrespect, threaten or bully a child, who is also a person, to accomplish those ends.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    I agree that parent’s of all ethnicities tend to see their children as extensions of themselves instead of completely separate human beings.

    But one thing that I do believe is a remnant of slavery is the use of hitting/spanking/beating as a form of discipline. To speak in generalizations, other parents spank their children too, but black parents tend to start earlier, use it for longer and with more intensity than parents of other racial groups. I think this can be quite damaging to children’s psyches, and our community could be improved a great deal if this practice was stopped.

  • http://twitter.com/cherubicnerd L.Hoskins (@cherubicnerd)

    right on! I get sick of people trying to justify bad parenting. it’s easy to beat a child than it is to instill respect and decency into a child. the good parents are up to that challenge. I grew up in an abusive family and that is why i’m vehemently against “physical punishment” of any kind to any child.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/ rkahendi

    That was honestly my first reaction to Will Smith’s statement.

  • http://gravatar.com/mbm1ame mbm1ame

    I’m from West Africa myself and spanking as a form of discipline was quite normal in a lot of of households and still is today, your comment;
    “But one thing that I do believe is a remnant of slavery is the use of hitting/spanking/beating as a form of discipline”
    I’ve read it mentioned quite a lot. By quite a few people I don’t understand how you’ve come up with this theory, did your study children through slavery to today to come up with this opinion? What about Middle-eastern or Indian, households that also believe in this method of discipline is this also a remnant of slavery for them?.or have you not gotten round to studying them yet?.
    If you don’t believe in spanking that’s your opinion, just like Will’s opinion its respected.You should respect other peoples decision to spank their own children if they choose to.
    But please, for the love of god, STOP saying it’s a remnant of slavery because it incredibly disconcerting and disturbing.

  • BeBoogie

    will was wansnt the best kid himself- but he was pretty decent-i’d say he was a brat-
    he may not want to beat his kids- but children do need disciplne in some form

  • Dave

    I’m sorry but what was so strange about his comments? Seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    Coolest son and dad duo ever!

  • Chanela17

    Am I the only one staring at Will’s sack?

  • http://sapphiresandsisters.wordpress.com sapphiresandsisters

    Will needs to realize that he is an entertainer and his children have and are growing up in a totally different kind of familial and social culture than the 99% of us Black folks. A lot of the things his kids probably have been protected from and not introduced to, our kids are faced with on a daily.
    And I hate when people compare anything to slavery. NONE of us will ever know what that felt like. I’d prefer my parents overprotection than being branded and kicked around as a piece of property.
    Exaggeration at its worse.

  • Fredsan

    Ya’ll sound like the, “he’s just going through a phase right now” type parents. Or ” it couldn’t have been my kid” or “it wasn’t his fault, he was just hanging with a bad crowd” type parents. Just admit your to weak and you dont have the guts to dicipline your kid’s. just because you spank your kids doesn’t make you joe jackson, you no heart having snobs!! Thats the problem these days, people treating their bad ass kids better than there own parents!! Look how disrespect these yungins are too!! Ya’ll a bunch of sissified weaklings trying to tell people how to raise well adjusted people..

  • Gigi Young

    The Scientology is slowly leaking out of Will (and Jada)! Won’t be too long before he feels comfortable enough to admit he’s a Scientologist.

  • B

    I wonder what typing of parenting would make his 11 year old daughter Tweet a picture of herself on a stripper pole? Will sweep around your OWN front door before you sweep about mine.
    Another question Willard, who was the slave and who was the master? If black people learned to treat their children like property it was because white people OWNED THEM. Why didn’t you say that? Oh because it would be calling out the WHITE OWNERS instead of the OWNED. Contrary to popular belief most black parents are good, decent hard working people who LOVE their children. Will needs to save the sociology.

  • victoria

    I agree with YOUR comment, but I did not get that from Will Smith’s statement. He compared child rearing to the same treatment he gives an adult and I completely disagree with that. And just because I TELL my child to do something doesn’t mean I dont respect them.

    Every household has rules. Some stricter than others. This doesn’t mean that parents are treating their children as slaves.

    Every parent has different parenting styles. I dont spank nor do I yell. But I dont consider someone else who choses to do so a bad parent. Nor do I consider parents slave masters for telling their children to do chores.

  • Nicoline

    Will Smith needs to take a seat and learn to PARENT.

    From what I see his children are out of control! They lack guidance and discipline!

  • http://gravatar.com/libpatriot GeekMommaRants

    Yes, but the way corporal punishment is handled by black Americans is different.

    Spanking is used to correct a child’s behavior but there are other cultural ways to send the same message.

    In the US during slavery the only contact children had was spanking and nothing else. The effects are different as well.

  • EqualOpportunity

    Some parents do still treat their children as property. My parents still treat me that way even though I’m 26, married, and live 4,000 miles away from them. They talk down to me and continuously want my respect, but can’t do the same for me. We can’t have a discussion without one of them raising their voice even if you are trying to defend yourself against their criticism. They will praise me in front of people, but break me down when no one else is around. I was a child who had good grades, never got in trouble at school, won awards, got praises form teachers, but at the same time, I was bullied at school for being a “goody two-shoes” and at home because I wasn’t doing good enough for them even when I was given the highest award you can get in school. I graduated early from high school and went off to college, got a degree and supported myself after school finished. At 25, I moved back home to help them take care of my grandparents and nothing changed. My mother was still trying to dictate what I can and can’t wear, to how I do my hair and my father didn’t like the choices I was making because I was getting married and moving to another country. These two actually wanted me to stay there and have a baby, which they would help me take care of, so they could have grandkids because their friends have grandkids, not once mentioning my husband. My parents even showed up late to accompany me to my wedding, even though they knew what time they had to be there. My father even yelled at me because I got my directions mixed up in the craziness of it all because I was so angry. I have to constantly cater to them even though they have barely any respect for me, my views or opinions. If I don’t cater to them, they’ll hold it over my head. They tolerate me, but don’t accept me. I’ve noticed in my family this happens to the ones who actually do well more than those that don’t.

  • Dave

    Seems to be a lot of people on this space forgetting that Will Smith’s comparison of black parenting practices to slavery directly mirrors the same argument half of you were making against the dude who beat his 12 yr old daughter for ‘twerking.’ You guys need to get your stories straight.

  • Buttons

    I see Will’s point about the slavery comment and I don’t think he meant any harm by it. There is some truth in it. In previous generations, disciplining your children meant beating them. My father literally beat his children and sometimes with objects (belts, paddles, etc) and in his mind it wasn’t abuse, it was discipline. This so called form of discipline was acceptable and we thought it was normal. But, it was really abuse and on so many levels.

    Also, children have parents for a reason; because they are not equipped to raise themselves. So, although they should be treated like individuals and people, as opposed to property, children should also not be given too much authority to make their own decisions. They are simply not wise enough to know what is best for them- point blank. It’s not about forcing your will onto your children, it’s about using your wisdom and your experience as the parent to guide your children in the proper direction. Children are naturally going to resist because they are young and they do not see what their parent’s see. But, it is the parents job to make those tough decisions regardless of the resistance as long as it is not imposed in an abusive manner.

  • Fredsan

    Well i understand your deep respect of your parents, but eventually your gonna have to put your big girl pants and stand up to them!! There gonna keep treating you like a child as long as you keep acting like one!! Part of being an adult is STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF!! And your inability to do so may be part of the reason your parents still treat you like a kid!

  • Equal Opportunity

    I’ve stood up for myself and almost got hit. I rather not have to explain a bruised face or why I had to call the police on my parents. I’m not going to fight two people who are three-four times my size.

  • Fredsan

    I dont mean standing up for for your self by getting into a physical altercation. Im saying the you cant just leave!!! Tell your folks you will come back around when they learn how to treat you like an adult..

  • Nadell

    “Actually, we tell our kids ‘you don’t have a room, that’s our room and we are letting you borrow it.”
    That statement sounds very much like a master/slave relationship…so it pretty much contradicts everything he said regarding ownership! He does have ownership of his children….

  • chinaza

    It’s a mockery and an insult to make the black parent/child dynamic- not a generic entity, anyhow- a derivative of slavery. There is no rational connection and it dilutes the historical atrocity of slavery. As does the suggestion that spanking is an extract from the subhuman brutality of slavery.
    Any extreme form of parenting, whether laxity or severity, is a form of child abuse and must be assessed within its own context.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mad.ng.12 Rosa Anta

    I live in europe,in france, and white people here spank their children in public !! it is the same in italy, belguim, uk, spain BUT now in the noorth (norway, finland, suede) you can not touch a child even your own as form of discipline. this is another folk whit the south of europe.

  • SayWhat

    Personally, I do think that black people tend to see their kids as ‘theirs’ more than any other demographic because as descendants of slaves, we were never allowed to love or to hold on to one another. You never knew when your child/partner/parent would be taken away, and I do think that on some levels, we turned that fear of loosing a loved one into possessiveness and passed that down if you will. But to me, that is a good thing.

    The other thing that Will needs to take note of, is that we are harder on our kids because we are trying to prepare them for a society that has a ‘zero’ tolerance policy towards them. So yes, we do come off as stricter compared to a white parent, because a white parent knows that their kid will get the benefit of the doubt and won’t be rushed off to jail like ours will. I think everything in life is about balance, and as far as I can see, to prove a point that they are different then the rest of us, Will/Jada have taken their parenting all the way to the left, only time will tell how it plays out for their kids,.

  • Mary

    I think he’s just playing with wording. “I don’t tell them to clean their rooms, I tell them to clean the rooms they are borrowing from me” It’s not about “owning” the children. It’s about trying to get the to adulthood being the best people they can be. Everyone does it differently.

  • Guest1234

    They’re just pimping their kids. If he was serious about Hollywood being a family business, he’d have the kids behind the camera and in good damned schools – not acting a fool on TV shows and babbling about emancipation. Being a dancing bear is not the same as being the man with the purse strings. And if they haven’t figured that out by now…Whatever….

  • Guest1234

    Agreed. I also can’t get with that “our room” vs. “your room” crap. My kids aren’t some grown folks off the street that I’m letting borrow a room. And when I give them a room, it is their space, and their responsibility. I may tell them to clean it. But that’s teaching one how to deal with their own space, to organize, and to be a decent host (it’s the reason I’m cleaning my home right now in anticipation of visiting guests – it’s just considerate if you have visitors to offer them a clean space to visit).

    That has nothing to do with slavery or any of that bullshit. It’s just being a parent. It’s okay to direct your kids. That’s part of raising a functioning adult. I can’t get with none of this indentured servitude he’s talkin’ ’bout. When I give them something, it’s theirs. That’s ‘Giving 101′. And I will direct them on how to manage it until they can do it themselves. That’s ‘Parenting 101′. Perhaps he needs a bit of parenting, himself.

  • apple

    when you’re rich you can live by your own rules and try these experimental/new age way of parenting

  • Kema

    I pretty much agree with everything Will said. My kids are in middle school and I treat my kids as individuals that at the end of the day are going to do what they want. My job is to lead them to want the right things and promote good decision making. One of the best things I have learned was the art of talking to them rather than at them.

    I think many adults just dont remember being kids. I can remember my brother getting whipped and then doing the same thing again but making sure to hide it better. Smh! If you want to go with “this is how we always did it” then dont be surprised when the outcome is the same as it always has been.

  • RaiseTheBar

    “If he was serious about Hollywood being a family business, he’d have the kids behind the camera and in good damned schools – not acting a fool on TV shows and babbling about emancipation.”

    ABSOLUTELY!!! Family BUSINESS: Behind the camera and in good schools.

    Too disgusting is his and hers, “We are ALL the answers to Black Perfection”

    We have EXCEPTIONAL Black Role Models in the “First Family” of the United States (The OBAMAs)!!! They COMMAND respect NOT demand it with media-seeking SUPERFICIAL antics and ramblings.

    Will, Jada, EXIT stage Left.

  • RaiseTheBar

    Cut Them Loose!

    Although you are their offspring, you are an independent self-supporting fellow human-being. They will mistreat you only as long as you allow them to.

    You, the 26yr. old ADULT has to stand-up, speak-up for your inner child. What would you do or say to anyone who treated YOUR child the way you’re treated by your parents? You wouldn’t allow it. You now have to be the protective parent for You.

  • John King

    Sorry, but it is wrong to make any such sweeping generalization about any race. What evidence is there that black parents treat their kids this way disproportionately more than white, oriental or asian parents? Or that the descendants of black immigrants who came to America after slavery ended are somehow equally affected with this mindset? I like Will as an actor, but let’s not make every famous black celebrity into a sociologist.

  • RaiseTheBar

    “I think a lot of people do treat their children like property . . .”

    Your comment is “WORTHY” of Parents (INDIVIDUALS) evaluating or re-evaluating their parenting style.

    The actions and comments of Will and Jada Smith TOOOO often appear to be SELF-promotion at the denigration of black communities.

  • Lisa

    AMEN!! A lot of people on here just aren’t hearing the message because of who it’s coming from.

  • John

    “What evidence is there that black parents treat their kids this way disproportionately more than white, oriental or asian parents?”

    Statistics, for one. Proportionally, black children are abused by their parents more than any other. In 2005, 49.7 percent of children who were maltreated were white, 23.1 percent were African American, and 17.4 percent were Hispanic. This does not include unreported cases, which are estimated to be quite high in the African American community due to stern warnings from parents, peers, and the culture in general.

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