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Published June 24, 2012, 11:30 PM

Jada Pinkett Smith talks about parenting, marriage

“We need to identify for ourselves what we as mothers need for our families,” said Jada Pinkett Smith at a recent Mamarazzi event in Manhattan on the heels of the “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” premiere.

By: Jennifer Berger, Newsday, INFORUM

“We need to identify for ourselves what we as mothers need for our families,” said Jada Pinkett Smith at a recent Mamarazzi event in Manhattan on the heels of the “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” premiere.

Dressed in a red strapless romper, Pinkett Smith, married to Will and mother to Jaden, 13, and Willow, 11, and I talked about raising kids, successful marriages and balancing it all.

Q How do you balance your family and career?

A “I think learning to put myself as a priority really helped me learn how to balance. For me, being able to take care of myself really gives me the rejuvenation to take care of others. If I’m not happy and I’m not doing well, no one else is.”

Q What do you do for down time?

A “I go to the spa to unwind. I love reading nonfiction books and I love baking 7-Up cake and red velvet.”

Q What have you learned from your kids?

A “My kids have taught me a lot about peace and honesty. Kids are very honest. My kids have taught me how to listen and how to trust.”

Q Who is your favorite fictional mom?

A “Phylicia Rashad from “The Cosby Show” is a really good mom. I loved her patience. She would get angry but she was always very loving and understanding, yet stern. She knew how to set boundaries.”

Q What advice would you give a mom on raising a daughter?

A “We are told that we can’t have ownership of ourselves until we’re 18. And then we’re pushed out into the world at 18 to figure out how to use that ownership versus helping our daughters understand how to have that ownership while they’re still in the house. So by the time they’re 18, they’ve got it. It’s also about knowing how to set up boundaries. I always tell Willow, as you get older you get more access to more freedom because you’re more knowledgeable.”

Q What makes you a good mother?

A “I have to wait for my kids to get older for them to identify if I’ve been a good mother or not! I think I have a great relationship with my kids. I’m very honest with them. I tell them when something is my fault. We’re not perfect. There’s no manual, we’re learning as we go. So I’m busting the myth of saying ‘I’m your mother and I know everything.’ No, I’m your mother and you’re my child and we’re going to create a relationship where we can be partners on sharing a life together.”

Q When you become a mother and you have a career, it’s often hard to juggle. What do you tell working mothers who really want to go for their passions in their life, while still being there for their children?

A “Just being able to really understand how important keeping one’s passion alive is. I think that once we do it, we realize how much it feeds the spirit. And then we have so much more to give to our children and our families versus feeling like we’re stealing something from them. Every last one of us knows the importance of taking those hours and those moments for ourselves that we usually won’t because of our own guilt. It’s not about hours. It’s not about time. It’s about spirit. You do what you need to do to keep your spirit alive.”

Q You have such a successful marriage. Do you have any advice for young couples getting married today?

A “I would say learn how to be friends, especially when you’re starting out. There’s lots of change and transition coming. Forever is a long time and it’s not to say that’s a bad thing. It’s going to continue to transform and change. When you’re young, you depend a lot on your partner to kind of buoy you up. That’s the one of the great things about turning 40, I know who I am.”

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