Red Table Talks: Jada Pinkett-Smith, her mother Adrienne Banfield Jones and her daughter, Willow Smith Talk Love and Family
Before I comment on what this video is about I wanted to talk quickly about the success of all relationships resting in those involved being able to express themselves. It's more than healthy to be confident in expressing one's needs and to show openness to receive information from the other. The skill of Listening is a fading (faded?) art, it seems. It's crucial to articulate grievances without aggression or an ulterior motive to undermine someones confidence, destablize them. #Playfair.
Verbal jostles are real but they're not the be all and end all. Sometimes they're useful for letting off steam but not to hurt. If you play fair its just a rutting session. Two people with intimate knowledge of each others communication ability allows compassion to exist between them and can be part of a sense of home for someone when they feel so understood. Like an unconditional clause in the unspoken family contract.
But what if home is not so secure? Many find that they fail in communicating their needs because they just don't seem to be able to get themselves understood. They may have
learned to communicate grievances through hearing their parents, guardians or main caretakers shouting at each other and them. Worse is when physical and sexual abuse feature in the familial legacy. What happens when this son or daughter finds themselves in scenario played out at home except they're starring in it? As an adult, not a anxious child overhearing? What script do they turn to? What's their next line? Are they even on the same page as the one they are in the argument with? This person who that are supposed to Love?
Cycles of failed communication become haunting reruns. You can recognise them creeping up in the tiff, accelerating it in to a full blown row but don't know what to do. Maybe trying going off script. Say cut. Call a time out, walk away for a while and breathe, reflect not on the action, but the subtext. Be silent enough to listen to your needs and fear at that moment. Attempt to find out what your loved ones are.
And how about flipping the script? Say something out of 'character'. Decide to change character. It's your life, your story - change something. Call back and say something that expresses your most inner truth and not the distraction of the "but you said..!" dialogue.
A good place to start is putting the anger aside. Its ok to be angry but it doesn't mean you have to sharpen it into a spear to throw at your now enemy. Which they aren't. Just another person trying to be heard who also forgot they could change the script.
In this video, we see three generations of women who unanimously decided to flip the script. They go to the marrow of the bone, sharing parental and teenage mistakes without judgement and receiving what's shared with a nod of acceptance - "it happened cos sh*t happens. Let's learn and move on".
What I also love about this video is that Willow Smith sits in on a conversation watching Jada Pinkett and her mother, her own Grandmother - two grown women - breaking a cycle of non-communication. The next generation observing a mending of tradition when women talked. Really talked. To salvage and repair. To heal. To teach. Not always easy driving in the fast and bumpy lane to success or the just making it on a dollar a day. Taking time for that kind of communing is a luxury low on the list, after getting nails done or walking 3 miles for a bucket of unclean water. Its hard to find time to communicate but its too much of an essential for healthy relationships and a healthy existence. I'm glad they did this. I'm glad they videoed and shared.