In the words of Will Smith, “parents just don’t understand.” Coincidentally, that applied to his wife and the mother of his children, Jada Pinkett Smith. In a recent sit down with Ireland Baldwin on Red Table Talk, Willow revealed her mother overlooked her struggle with anxiety because she didn’t realize she was dealing with her own unresolved mental health issues.
“I feel like when I was growing up, she didn’t understand my anxiety because she, growing up, had seen her friends die. She had been through so much stuff that my issues to her kinda felt [smaller],” Willow explained. “And that was very frustrating for me as a child, because I was like, ‘How can you not see my internal, emotional struggle?'”
While it took time for Willow to forgive her mother, she eventually realized her mother was unknowingly struggling too. “She had no idea,” Smith said. “So, I kinda had to forgive her a little bit.”
Later in the show, Jada admitted she didn’t understand what it felt like to be a child star, which is probably why she did recognize her daughter’s struggle when she reached fame. “I don’t know what it’s like to be a child under hot lights,” she said. “And then just really not knowing how to comfort her, not knowing what help she needed, not understanding the behavior.”
In learning to understand the behavior, Jada simultaneously dealt with issues pertaining to her own mother.
“In having to deal with and learn about her anxiety, I’ve had to look at some of my own behavior and behaviors of my mother and go, ‘Well, of course I probably would have some anxiety in regards to how I grew up,'” Pinkett Smith added. “It was very difficult.”
Jada and Willow have clearly mended that part of their relationship. “When you told me that you actually do experience anxiety, that changed my life. You’re my best friend, what can I say.” RTT guests Kim Basinger and her daughter Ireland Baldwin also opened up about their mother/daughter relationship and how they struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias.