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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hollywood parenting we can learn from

When somebody talks about celebrity parents and their children, images of adopted kids from Africa and spoiled little brats living it up with $100,000 treehouses and diamond-encrusted everything would inevitably come to mind. So when I first saw the big headline "Jaden Smith wants to be emancipated from Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith", I thought oh well, another one bites the dust.

They say the devil is in the details, but in this case, it's not the devil you find but a piece of parenting gem from the Smiths!

Will and Jada’s very modern attitude to parenting involves talking to their children rather than telling them they are wrong. 

Will says: “We generally don’t believe in punishment. From the time Jaden was five or six we would sit him down, and all he has to do is be able to explain why what he did was the right thing for his life. 

“I think it’s a much more difficult question to ask someone — ‘Why was that right?’ — than to try to show them why it was wrong. 

“Nobody wants to be wrong, all parts of yourself fight like crazy to not be wrong. So I’ll say to Jaden, ‘Why was that the right thing to do for your life?’ and if he can explain why kicking his sister in the chest was the right thing to do, we can see to it that he understands that it wasn’t so smart.”

I'll admit that I don't actively read up on parenting tips, be it on the Internet, in books or in magazines, but what Will Smith said struck a chord with me.  I agree with it wholeheartedly.  When Aiden does something wrong, I would choose to talk to him about it rather than to accept it, to resort to physical punishment or to play the parent card.  I feel that if Aiden internalises a certain behavior as acceptable through a conversation with us, he is more likely to keep that behavior for a longer time.

As Aiden (at 27 months) has limited vocabulary, most of the time I would be doing the talking while he listens and absorbs.  If he understands and agrees, he would tell me and proceed to correct his behaviour.  If he doesn't, he would resist.  If we can't reach some sort of a compromise, then I would still let him know that I am disappointed.  I look forward to the day when I can have a proper two-way conversation with Aiden.  I'm sure it'll be fun!

Jaden Smith seems to be turning out well despite such an extraordinary childhood and circumstances, it gives me that confidence that my similar parenting style/belief would pay off eventually.  I hope Aiden grows up to become a man who knows right from wrong, dares to dream and takes ownership of his own life.

Anyway, it was quickly clarified by the Smiths that the emancipation rumour is not true - a Hollywood-style happy ending I guess!


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