Quotes About Parenthood From Will Smith

The actor has three kids -- Trey, Jaden and Willow.
The Smith family attends the premiere of the film "After Earth" at New York's Ziegfeld Theater on May 29, 2013. Will Smith's son Jaden (left) starred with his father in the movie.
Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images
The Smith family attends the premiere of the film "After Earth" at New York's Ziegfeld Theater on May 29, 2013. Will Smith's son Jaden (left) starred with his father in the movie.

Will Smith is very open about his approach to fatherhood.

The actor and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, have a son, Jaden, and daughter, Willow. Will Smith also has a son, Trey, from his first marriage to Sheree Zampino. Over the years, he’s spoken about his philosophy as a parent, which has been described as “unorthodox.”

In honor of his birthday, here are 12 parenting quotes from Smith.

On Teenagers

“Teenagers should be an affliction. Like, ‘Hey, Will, how you doin?’ ‘Man, I got teenagers. Simplex 2, man, simplex 2.’ It takes everything you have to raise teenagers.”

On Raising Independent Kids

“I feel that the greatest gift that I can give my children is the freedom to be who they are. Jada and I are very serious about finding what they are, and encouraging them to be what they are because you can never be happy being what you’re not. As a parent, if it’s an oak tree, I want it to grow as an oak tree. I’m not going to try to force it to be an apple tree.”

On Discipline

“We don’t do punishment. The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been ― it has a little too much of a negative quality. So when they do things ― and you know, Jaden, he’s done things ― you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life.”

On A Lesson His Daughter Taught Him

“She shaved her head bald in the middle of her ‘Whip My Hair’ tour. I was like, ‘Oh, s**t.’ I’m looking at that girl and I’m like, ‘Got it. I understand. You will not have this trouble out of me ever again. Let’s go, baby. We can go.’ For me, it was that soldier that was pushing and wasn’t paying any attention whatsoever to what was going on emotionally with this beautiful little creature in front of me. That was the first part of the collapsing of my father’s suit that I was wearing that wasn’t mine.”

On His Son

“Jaden is 100% fearless, he will do anything. So as a parent it’s scary, it’s really terrifying ― but he is completely willing to live and die by his own artistic decisions and he just doesn’t concern himself with what people think.”

On How His Kids’ Lives Compare To His Childhood

“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.”

On Supporting His Children’s Interests

“Because we’re both artists, we decided a long time ago that it’s sort of better to flow with what people are naturally more than what our egos need them to be. So we really just try to find the things that they’re good at and support those things rather than forcing them ... Jaden loves math, and Willow is more of a reader. So we kinda just support those things.”

On His Parenting Style

“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.”

On Working With His Son

“There’s something really powerful about a 13-year-old going out to learn how to hunt with his father. I consider myself a warrior, and I’m a Samurai teaching my son how to fight, how to love, just really helping him develop in a young man. It was our version of a bromitzvah!”

On Raising A Daughter

“I was wondering if [Willow] would get flack for cutting off all her hair. But it was also so obvious to me that you have a young woman here. How can you teach her that she’s in control of her body if I tell her that I’m in charge of what she can do with her hair? Someday, she will replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She has to have command of her body.”

On The ‘Fresh Princess’ Children’s Book Series

“I know all of my children would have loved ‘Fresh Princess’ (inspired by Smith) growing up, and being a father who raised a strong daughter I know how important it is to see that type of strength depicted in stories. It’s what Jada and I have always championed and shown our kids throughout their lives. I’m down to follow Destiny (the series’ main character) through her growth and adventures just as I had experienced the journey of the young ‘Will Smith’ as he danced, laughed, made mistakes, and created memorable moments on his road to becoming the Fresh Prince.”

On Fatherly Advice

“I was just saying to Jaden and his friends the other day to make sure their dreams are impossible, because they have to sustain them for a lifetime.”

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