On In this episode of Red Table Talk, Jada, Willow, and Gammy talk about these challenges. Jada goes over the experiences she’s had co-mothering Will Smith’s first son with his previous wife—, Sheree Fletcher. Gammy talks about the challenges she’s faced being a teenage mother, and how Jada’s children became their way to heal as mother and daughter.
Read this if...
- You’ are a mother
- You’ are a grandmother
- You’ are a co-parent
Adrienne Banfield-Norris is the mother of Jada Pinkett Smith and the grandmother of Willow Smith. Before her late start in show business as part of Red Table Talk, she was the head nurse of an inner-city clinic in Baltimore.
Sheree Zampino is also featured in this episode, the ex-wife of Will Smith. She starred in the TV show Hollywood Exes.
the distilld lessons (extended)
Women become mothers in more ways than one. It can be by choice, by blood, done alone, or even shared with another mother. However a woman becomes a mother, motherhood comes with its own challenges.
In this episode of Red Table Talk, Jada, Willow, and Gammy talk about the challenges of motherhood. Jada goes over the experiences she’s had co-mothering Will Smith’s first son with his previous wife, Sheree Fletcher. Gammy talks about the challenges she faced being a teenage mother and how Jada’s children became their way to heal as mother and daughter.
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by the “Motherhood” episode of the Red Table Talk podcast:
1. Co-mothers require co-operation.
When two co-mothers set their differences aside, they can better attend to the main priority: the child.
Jada co-mothered Trey Smith—Will Smith’s first son—with Will’s ex-wife, Sheree Zampino. Both of them admit that it took a while for them to get along. Sheree wasn’t fond of Jada entering the picture when she and Will were still sorting out their divorce. Jada, on the other hand, found Sheree abrasive and disrespectful.
But Trey liked Jada as his bonus mom. He even wanted to get her a present one time: a little candle. Trey’s affinity for Jada opened Sheree’s perspective to her kindness and well intentions. When she realized that they both just wanted what was best for Trey, Sheree took the initiative to be more respectful. They eventually got over their differences. It’s now been 20 years and Jada and Sheree have co-parented Trey successfully.
Co-mothering is when a woman serves as a mother to a child who isn’t biologically her own. In this scenario, the child has two mothers instead of one: one biological mother, and the co-mother or bonus mother.
Even if it can be an effective system to protect a child from the effects of divorce, it’s not without problems. Parenting philosophies between two mothers can contradict. It can lead to unhealthy competition instead of cooperation. This all can create burdens that ultimately fall on the child. Time that could’ve been spent figuring out how to best take care of the child, is instead spent on disagreements and conflicts.
It’s important to keep co-operation and communication active. When co-mothers complement each other’s parenting, the child can reap the benefits of co-motherhood. This also allows the child to transition into his or her new family with little to no conflict.
2. Teenage mothers require guidance.
Being a mother at an early age puts a teenager’s life in fast-forward. She is forced to grow up the moment the baby arrives.
Gammy gave birth to Jada, got married, and got divorced all at 19 years old. She says that being a mother in high school were the worst years of her life. She had no idea how to be an adult, let alone a mother.
Gammy didn’t know how to set rules and boundaries for Jada because she followed none herself. She couldn’t provide Jada with a sense of security because she had none. She’d repeatedly move out of her parents’ house, then move back in when she couldn’t afford to live by herself anymore. Gammy admits she had no idea of what being a mother meant back then.
Teenage pregnancy is a common phenomenon in modern society. Statistics show that the average global birth rate as of 2014 among 15-19 year olds is 49 per 1000 girls. Teenage mothers also face problems that adult mothers don’t. Research suggests that they have a significantly higher level of postpartum depression or depression after childbirth.
This is why it’s important for teenage mothers to seek help. There are programs in place for them to remain in school or complete their courses from home. They can take parenting classes to teach them how to physically and financially support their children. If they have no access to these programs, they can always turn to their families and friends for assistance.
When teenage mothers are given ample guidance and support, they can live life at a pace that allows her to deal with the pressures of young adulthood and motherhood simultaneously. This enables both the teenage mother and the baby to grow up healthy.
3. Mothers have to appreciate themselves more.
The responsibilities that a mother fulfills are nothing short of praiseworthy. When Jada was raising Jaden and Willow, she began to receive the motherly presence and support from Gammy that she felt was missing during her childhood. Jada says that if not for Gammy being there to take care of the children, she wouldn’t have been able to pursue her acting career. Gammy even followed Jada and the children to Australia, just so Jada could finish filming The Matrix while Gammy took care of Jaden and Willow.
Mothers are capable of so much care and sacrifice. They give up their personal time to attend to their children’s needs. They give up a carefree life so they can pay attention to keeping the house in order. Some even give up their careers.
With everything they sacrifice and do for their children, all mothers deserve appreciation. They deserve to be appreciated not by their family or the people around them, but appreciated by themselves, too.
For a shorter conversation, the distilld lessons summary are here.