Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Go-To Parenting Hack Just Might Work

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith definitely know how to grab headlines. Much ink has been spilled over the pair’s alleged “open” marriage, and the revelation that Pinkett Smith had an “entanglement” with singer August Alsina got the gossip mills running all over again.

Another source of much criticism and snickering has been the parenting strategies Smith and Pinkett Smith employed with their two children. Even though both Jaden and Willow Smith are young adults now, onlookers from afar have a lot to say about the family’s unconventional approach to discipline. 

While they have certainly raised more than a few eyebrows, it turns out that expert opinion is much more in line with the family’s practice than critics would like to believe. 

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have two adult children 

Jada Pinkett Smith (L) and Will Smith (R) attend the 2nd Annual Diamond Ball
Jada Pinkett Smith (L) and Will Smith (R) attend the 2nd Annual Diamond Ball | Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

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Smith and Pinkett Smith first met in 1994 on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. At the time, Smith’s star was on the rise and he was also married but didn’t believe in initiating a divorce.

It wasn’t until his then-wife decided to end things that he pursued the relationship. The pair tied the knot on New Year’s Eve 1997.

At the time, Pinkett Smith was pregnant with their first child, a son named Jaden. Pinkett Smith has been very open about not wanting to get married and feeling public pressure to do so because of the pregnancy. 

Two years later, the pair added a daughter named Willow to their family. Over the years, the pair made plenty of interesting comments about their relationship. Both Smith and Pinkett Smith made it clear that they saw their union as a partnership based on mutual respect and trust and that neither felt like they had control over the other. 

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have a unique parenting style

That philosophy of respect without control extended to their parenting. Smith has opened up about parenting. He called raising Jaden, who was always very artistic and expressive, “terrifying.” He also explained that their parenting style was very hands-off and did not center discipline or 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,” Smith explained. Fans have often criticized this parenting approach as too permissive and pointed out the Smith children’s bizarre behavior as evidence that the method was ineffective. Despite the criticism, Smith has made it clear — as The Things reports: “We don’t do punishment.” 

Experts agree with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s approach 

While this approach to parenting might ring strange to many people, it is actually supported with evidence and expert guidance. In an article on the best discipline techniques for Healthy Children, punishment is not the best way to instill a healthy sense of right and wrong in children. Instead, modeling positive behavior and relying on natural consequences yields better results. 

“it’s important to focus on teaching good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior,” experts explain. Punishments — including spanking and verbal abuse — can leave lasting damage on children that may lead to behavioral problems later in life and depression in teens. While Smith and Pinkett Smith have gotten a lot of criticism for their approach, it appears to have helped them raise two creative, engaged young adults, and it was all with a method that’s supported by the research and advice of experts in the field of child psychology.