What about 4th Grade?

I have been in a bit of a ‘blogger funk’ this week so I was excited when I felt prompted to write after reading this story. The topic is one that’s been hotly debated by many since Willow Smith debuted her first single, “Whip My Hair” last year. At the time she was just nine years old (she turned 10 in October) and everybody with an opinion had something to say. Namely, is she too young to be a recording artist?

Some think so. Others think not. What do you think?

Personally, I have mixed emotions about it (not that the Smiths even care or that my opinion matters!). Now that I’m a parent, I just couldn’t imagine my baby girl out on the world’s stage to be celebrated, judged, and critiqued all at the same time – at nine years old; no matter how talented she is. Kids should be allowed to just be kids. We all saw what happened in the most tragic case of the result of a robbed childhood ever…in our beloved Micheal Jackson (R.I.P.). That poor man spent all of his adult life in a futile search to reclaim that which a never had: a childhood. His talent as a child was unprecedented (some say he was a prodigy) – but wouldn’t it still have been there as an adult?

On the other hand, would anyone even care if her parents weren’t famous? What about that girl, Jackie Evancho from America’s Got Talent? She was on Oprah last Christmas because of her incredible ability to sing opera (she’s also 10 years old and holds the record of being the youngest opera singer ever). She was born in Pittsburgh to regular folk like you and me, and yet they’re not being judged for allowing her to go on the show and subsequently record an album. Despite the fact that Willow was born to arguably two of the most talented people in Hollywood (which to me means that she couldn’t avoid the arts if she TRIED)…because of their celebrity, people are ripping Will and Jada Smith apart for their decision.

What I read this morning was Terry McMillian’s two cents about it all. She wrote on her Twitter page:

The Smith children already act like child stars. There’s an arrogance in their demeanor and behavior. I find it incredibly sad.
It feels like the Smith children are being pimped and exploited. Or, they’re already hungry for fame. What about 4th grade?


A lot of A-list movie stars shielded their children from the Hollywood-world until they were old enough to decide. Look at those who didn’t.
Look at Lindsay. Phoenix. To name but a few. They miss out on childhood. It’s more important than fame.

These kids don’t already know what they “love”. Total bullsh*t. They’re not prodigies. They think Hollywood is real.
Why don’t they do a remake of The Little Rascals and call it a day? Or, come up with an original film with some ethnic pride. Come on.

Okay. I’ve said enough about the Smith children. I’m not debating about them. It’s just my opinion. People can justify anything, though.
In 4th grade my son came home complaining that the kids in his school said I was famous and rich. I told him that was not true.

That some of my books were popular but not everybody liked them. That we could afford a vacation. “Oh” he said, and went back & repeated it. I wanted him to think of me as his mother. He didn’t read any of my novels until he was 15. He only read 26 pages. Was bored.

Have a wonderful Wednesday everybody. I raised my son. I’m not wasting another minute worrying about how Will & Jada are raising their kids.
P.S. I loved the Karate Kid.
I am not getting started on the lack of diversity in film this afternoon. The Smith children was enough discourse for one day.

Pimped and exploited??? Yikes!!!!!!!!!!! She later apologized for using those words.

But is she right? Hmmm…I kinda agree with her about their (Willow and her brother Jaden’s) demeanor. Yet – that’s just what we see on camera and red carpets and such. Nobody really knows those kids but their family and friends. And what if they just can’t help it because being famous is in their DNA?

There’s really no right or wrong answer here, it’s all a matter of opinion. To each his own.

Chime in! I’d like to know what you think about all of this!

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Posted on January 27, 2011, in Entertainment. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. If I was Willow’s parent I would be okay with it. She only has one single out. She might not even be touring. Her gifts are being nurtured properly. To hinder her gifts and talents would be offical. For example, if your daughter wanted to dance, most dancers are in training from age 4 to 18. Think about how much dedication that takes and all of the possible shows, plays that she would be in. We would never think to make our child wait on dance lessons or insturment lessons. As parents we should see our childrens talents and gifts and help them achieve maximum potential. Everything should have guide lines and parents should possible postpone some of the things that would take away from their childhood. The singer Monica was a good example of that, her mother made sure she had a childhood. Our children come through us to be shared with the world.

  2. Oh yes, I’m all for nurturing a child’s gift(s)! I plan on introducing my daughter to a variety of activities to see what she does and doesn’t like. Whatever she chooses whether it be sports, dance, singing, etc. I’ll be front and center to support her. But being on the recital stage of your elementary school and being on the world’s stage in front of millions is an entirely different thing. As you noted, guidelines are very important and finding balance is key too.

  3. ditto to that princessofgeekadonia! Expose your child and be open to what really excites them then help them explore all the possibilities for however long they want too…and be at peace if or when they choose to stop.

  4. Interesting stuff let me say that I LOVE reading this blog and totally think someone should pick you up and PAY you for some thought provoking, objectional info (plug)

    Personally, I would prefer not to have my own child in the lime light so early BUT if Iwere Jada or Will @ this stage of the game I don’t think it would be all that possible. Tre, Will’s oldest son was growing up while Will was blowing up so I think he managed miss most of the Hollywood attraction. What I can respect and have heard Will & Jada speak about many many times is that they defined their own parenting style with their children. They suppport their children in whatever they want to do but they children have to WORK for it. Will has stated that they encouraged the kids to produce written proposals and have families meetings about strategies of how to go about accomplishin not only their goals/dreams but simple things like when Tre wanted to by a car- he had to justify to them why he needed an expensive high end car (Jay leno interview some time ago)

    What some may take for arrogance I am am actually correlating to confidence and intelligence and the product of being raise by two strong and intelligen parents. Willow has been trying MANY things, acting, photography and now singing. We all plan to support our kids through their choices of finding their passions but few of us will have to justify it through the media. As intelligent as Will and Jada present…their kids probably wouldn’t be regular 4th graders even w/o the fame.
    *my two cents THANKS :o}

  5. p.s. sorry for the typos

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