Will Smith Tells Wife Jada Pinkett Smith That His Divorce From Sheree Zampino Was His 'Ultimate Failure'
By Desiree Murphy
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Will Smith is reflecting on his past relationships, and what it's like being a father of three.
During a special Father's Day edition of wife Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk Facebook Watch series, the actor got emotional while talking about his first marriage to Sheree Zampino. The two were married from 1992-1995, and share one child, 27-year-old Trey. Will later married Jada in 1997, and they have two kids together -- Jaden, 21, and Willow, 19.
"Divorce was the worst thing in my adult life. Divorce was the ultimate failure for me," Will admitted. "I've been hurt a lot in my adult life, but I don't think anything touches the failure of getting divorced from my [then] 2-year-old son's mother… If a man's not a great husband then he loses his parental rights. And I'm a way better father than I am a husband."
"Because of my experience of seeing [my dad] punch my mother, I knew that my kids would never see me do anything violent towards their mothers, but in the first couple years of Trey’s life, because Sheree and I were divorced, I think my desire to never have my son see me in that way made me more absent as a father," he continued. "Sheree and I really struggled with each other needing the other person to do it their way. She needed me to father the way she wanted Trey fathered, and I'm not that guy. I'm not the parent-teacher meeting, throwing baseballs with the kids [guy], and I beat myself up for that for a while, wanting to be that dad. I am the 'We are going to build something together for work' dad."
Will also recalled what it was like bringing Trey home from the hospital, and becoming a father at the age of 24.
"I think that was my first moment of the real weight of parenting," he remembered. "I brought him home, and I remember we put him in the bassinet. It was like stark terror. I'm totally responsible for this life… I just cried so hard. It makes me teary right now."
“[I thought,] 'I can’t do it. I’m not the guy.' Oh man, I just knew I didn’t know nothing," he added, wiping away tears. "I'm going to need to get myself together. I'm going to have to walk this one off… I need a tissue."
Throughout the candid discussion, Will opened up about knowing at a young age that, when the time came, he wanted to be a "better" father than his own dad, Will Smith Sr.
"By the time I was 10 years old, I remember looking at my father and thinking that I could do it better than him," he shared. "My father had a little bit of a temper. I was a gentle kid; I was not a kid that you had to slap or punch or beat. So growing up in a household where physical aggression was approved of, that really chafed my hide. That hurt my spirit."
"There's such beautiful qualities that he instilled that are a big part of what made me me, and as the yin to every yang, I watched [my father] beat up my mother. So the biggest emotional scar that I have in this lifetime, he delivered that also," Will continued. "He showed me a lot of things that I wanted to do, but he also showed me the things I would absolutely, positively never do to my children."