Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all situation and nobody knows this better than T.I. and his daughter, Deyjah, who just weathered one helluva media storm.
Earlier this month, the 39-year-old rapper set off what he calls "Hymen Gate", after revealing that he took yearly trips to the gynecologist with his daughter to confirm her virginity (or lack thereof) on a since-deleted episode of Nazanin Mandi's Ladies Like Us podcast.
T.I.'s comments triggered an intense online debate about the roles and responsibilities of fathers in the Black community, which ultimately caught the attention of Jada Pinkett-Smith and her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, who invited the entertainer on an episode of Red Table Talk to clear the air and clarify his comments for the first time since the chaos erupted.
Here's what we learned:
According To T.I., Deyjah's Mom Was Totally On-Board.
While some critics of T.I.'s tactics questioned why Deyjah's mom wasn't involved, according to T.I. she was totally present. While Deyjah's mother's recent Instagram posts suggests differently, he said that both Deyjah and her mother were totally on-board with her annual trips to the gynecologist. The rapper explained that his comments were taken totally out of context and clarified that he was never in the exam room when these "tests" were administered.
His Silence Since The Incident Was At Deyjah's Request.
When you know better, you do better. And T.I. says since the incident, he's become hypersensitive to the feminine journey when it comes to his parenting approach. The rapper, who says he was previously "oblivious" to the sensitivity of the subject, got a dose of reality after realizing how the situation affected his daughter. At Deyjah's request, he stayed silent amidst the backlash in an effort to protect her feelings:
"I didn't get it, I was oblivious to it. However, I am now sensitive to it for her. My daughter said, 'Just let it go. Don't say nothing, just let it go.' And I didn't until I had different directives. [Until she said] 'Go ahead, make it stop. Clear it up.'"
There's A Difference Between Protection & Control.
While I think every parent can understand the innate desire to protect your child from the ills of this world, and for T.I., that happens to be the "slimy, grimy, chubby-fingered little boys" who want to "defile and destroy the sanctity" of what he holds dearest to his heart. He explained:
"For the purpose of being a protective parent, there's no such thing as over-protective. There's just protected and unprotected."
Although T.I. had a potent point, Mama Adrienne's face throughout the interview said it all and she… wasn't here for it. There is a big difference between protection and control and both Adrienne and Jada made sure to call a thing a thing. Jada told T.I.:
"A woman's journey in regards to her sexuality has to be guided. Mostly, I think, by mothers. That's just me personally, but mother, in truly understanding what that journey is, takes her daughter's hand and walks her through.That's how I worked that out with Will."
"There's just certain things about raising a man that I can't know. I would tell him, love your daughter. Let me teach her. There's certain sensitivities that you just don't understand just because of your relationship in the world is different than a woman's relationship."
This Was A Teachable Moment For T.I.
While we can debate T.I.'s parenting style all day, one thing that's undeniable is that he loves his daughter. Even though his previous comments were misguided, it was clear that the rapper came to the Red Table to learn, and Jada and Adrienne did not come to play about teaching him a thing or two. The father-of-six shared:
"I think that it's great for me to have this opportunity. And I think that all things happen in life for a reason. You know, every lesson has a purpose and it must be dealt with differently, but out of care and out of concern, not out of control. I don't think that [our] community, our culture, our generation can be pushed forward by having comfortable, convenient discussions. You have to have tough discussions in order to move forward."
Check out the full episode below!
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Featured image by Instagram/@RedTableTalk.