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Black Motherhood: “Why We Need More Jada Pinkett Smiths”

Everyone is talking about this article from For Harriet, A New Model For Black Motherhood: Why We Need More Jada Pinkett Smiths. I read the article, and agree with some of things that were said, and of course I have a huge BUT. Jada Pinkett Smith has received a lot of comments questioning her parenting style because of Willow’s freedom to make certain choices regarding her style, including hair cuts and coloring. In response to the critics, Jada had this to say:

The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women,girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be. More to come. Another day.

I agree with Jada’s parenting style for Jada and the Smith Family. I don’t necessarily think we need more Jada Pinkett Smiths as mothers, but more people who parent according to the inner workings of their families. Let’s be real, not everyone can parent in the same manner as Jada because not everyone has the same set of circumstances or personality traits. Win or lose, succeed or fail, Willow will be taken care of. She is free to be whatever she desires because money is not necessarily an issue, nor is the need to survive. This freedom method doesn’t always work, there are plenty of celebrity kids who’ve had the freedom to choose, and it just didn’t end well. There is nothing wrong with “letting or not letting” your kids make choices within boundaries that are morally and age appropriate. I do agree black parents can be strict, but I also believe that strictness developed from a need to protect children from a society that was more abusive. As times have change, so have the views toward discipline and parenting within black families. For example, I will NEVER hit my child with a switch, an extension chord, or the closest object near by. I prefer communication above all.

What I do know however, is that we have too many black boys dropping out of school and too many young girls glorifying sex. So I do have a problem with “letting or not letting” kids choose things like adults without the responsibilities of adults, or the emotional capacity to deal with things like adults.  We are quick to glorify and place people on a pedestal, but Jada’s point was not to parent more like The Smiths, her point was simply an explanation of why she has chosen a different parenting style specific to Willow. We can learn a lot from Jada because there is wisdom in her words, but parenting is not a trend. We don’t know a lot about The Smiths as a family from a simple picture or one quote, and shouldn’t base our lives around a myopic glimpse into their lives. The key to parenting is always balance and boundaries appropriate to maturity. Too strict or too free seems to deliver the same results. Work with what’s best for the dynamics of your family, and ABOVE ALL make EDUCATION a priority. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’s or the Smiths’ for that matter.

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