Better Family

— where there's least acceptance

I watched Jada Pinkett Smith’s show, Red Table Talk, and I was surprised how progressive the talk show was.

The first episode featured Will Smith. The couple talked about their marriage and at one point Willow, the daughter, tells the story of when she looked into Will’s eyes and realized he wanted a family that wasn’t the one he had.

I understand that feeling very much. Whenever I speak with my dad, I see how much he wishes he had a ‘different daughter’ or a ‘different son’. But at the same time, desiring a different family is natural to him. How can I fault his impulse to want a ‘better family’?

These days, his frustration for ‘different children’ has gone much further. He spends evenings pouring over fortune telling books, looking up dates to compare his children’s fates with the children of his brothers and sisters. As he learns about our futures, he shakes his head, gets sadder, more frustrated. The futures of me and my siblings aren’t as bright.

On the talk show, Will Smith talks about overcoming the issue of wanting another family. He talks about how he was so scared of appearing selfish that he would tell everyone that he was building the huge house they have for his family (hiding the fact how the house was for him and his idea of how his family should live). By building something ‘for his family’, they owed him–they HAD to be grateful.

I found this similar with my dad. No one asked him to achieve the things he has. No one wants any of the things he’s built for us. All we want is him to accept us. But I don’t see him coming to the realization that he’s asking us to be grateful for things he selfishly wanted, without any consideration for us.

To flip it around, by examining my dad this way, there’s proof that I also wish I had a ‘different dad’. I wish I had one that was accepting, one that could be aware of how much he’s working for the benefit of himself.

That’s where the show reaches its limit. While the Smiths’ explain how much they overcame, they left out the unexplainable part.

How is one motivated to learn to love people who don’t complete their dreams? I believe there’s an unconditional element to it…I just don’t know how it figures in. And I’m not sure all happy endings involve everyone being together as happy and together as the Smiths’ seem.

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