Why Jada Pinkett Smith and Willow Both Struggled to Forgive Their Parents

Why Jada Pinkett Smith and Willow Both Struggled to Forgive Their Parents

Willow reveals Will Smith was “harsh” when she became a pop star after the success of “Whip My Hair.”

Forgiveness was the topic of the day on "Red Table Talk," as Jada Pinkett Smith, her brother Caleeb, mom Adrienne Banfield Norris and Willow Smith all tackled some painful relationships within their family.

The biggest point of conversation was Jada and Caleeb’s father, Robsol Pinkett Jr., who was largely MIA from their lives as he battled drug addiction. While the two have different mothers, Rob was "a shared source of pain" for them, explained Jada.

Calling him the man who "gave us life," she added that their father also "hurt us the most."

"He wasn’t there for us as children," Jada explained, as Caleeb said it was "horrific" that they were essentially left "to the wolves" when he abandoned them. Caleeb didn’t get to know his father until he was 12, when Rob explained his addiction problems and even brought his son to AA meetings.

After being sober for nearly 25 years, Jada said Rob "fell off the wagon" and it was time for an intervention of sorts. She explained how they brought him out to Los Angeles, where he was clean for a few years before "he fell off again and died from an overdose."

They both shared how he told them he couldn’t be a dad to them, telling Caleeb, "I’d rather get high than be your father." He supposedly told Jada, at age 7, "I can’t be your father. I’m a criminal, I’m an addict and that’s just what it is."

"When he died from that overdose, I got the call from Caleeb and the most difficult part of him dying like that was he and I had had a horrendous fight when I found out he relapsed," Jada explained.

When their father passed away, Caleeb stepped up and identified the body and made all the funeral arrangements. Looking back, Jada said "that’s when my brother became a man."

After his death, Jada said she initially "felt a lot of guilt" because of their fight, but eventually came to a realization. "I realized he was not born to be my dad," she explained. "That wasn’t the only thing he was here to do. He’s a person first, with his own journey."

She took that realization and applied it to everyone in her life, stripping them of the labels and titles of "what people are supposed to be." Having that "emotional independence," as she calls it, "has been the greatest gift in my journey."

While Jada’s mother also struggled with addiction, it was easier for her to forgive her, because "we were still together." Her father simply wasn’t. "He just gave up," she added.

Looking at her own life, Willow was asked if there was anyone in her past she needed to forgive. That answer came easy: her own parents.

"I definitely had to forgive you and daddy for that whole ‘Whip My Hair’ thing," she explained.

In a previous episode, Willow said her success at such a young age wasn’t handled the way it should have been. "You and daddy should have been, ‘OK, we value her musical growth and knowledge more than her popularity," she said at the time, explaining how she later rebelled by shaving her head.

"It was mostly daddy because he was so harsh at certain times," she added on Monday’s new episode. "It was like a couple years, trying to regain trust for trying for not feeling like I wasn’t listened to or no one cared what I felt during that time."

She added that she also had to forgive herself: "Because I felt guilty because I was like, everyone is trying to make me better, trying to make my dream, but I didn’t really understand what my dream entailed."

Click here to watch the full episode.

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