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10 parenting lessons from 'Modern Family'

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Good television drama is a reflection of modern life. While US program ‘Modern Family’ that airs regularly on Australian television is more a sitcom than a drama, there’s plenty of food for thought amongst its fast-paced dialogue. In fact, ‘Modern Family’ has some very pertinent parenting lessons.

1. Everyone could do with a gay relative or two. Uncles Cam and Mitchell usually have very different perspectives to family and relationship issues, and they are not afraid to share how they feel with any family member. Wearing your heart on your sleeve has its family advantages.

2. No matter how complicated relationships become blood is always thicker than water. This is a family where traditional relationship lines are blurred. Sixteen year old Haley’s Uncle Manny is five years younger than her.... I won’t even try to untangle some of the other relationships. Regardless, blood relationships always win out.

3. Kids move on quicker than adults. Whenever there is a dispute or problem between children the parents are discussing it way after the kids have forgotten or left it behind.

4. Tough partnerships allow you to speak the truth and forget about it the next day. Gloria and Jay can say some horrible things to each other, but somehow they mend things quickly, and then move on.

5. Peerenting doesn’t work, but parenting does. Father of three, Phil’s forte is peerenting (he thinks he is more a peer than a parent), until he needs to assert his authority. Then he reverts to good old-fashioned parenting. Doh!

6. Someone in a partnership needs to stay calm when all hell breaks loose. Parents Phil and Claire are hilarious. They rarely react to any situation the same way. Take the episode where their 16 year-old daughter Haley was arrested. Claire at first was furious & serious. Phil at first was calm & laissez faire. Both changed their tunes, when their daughter was kicked out of College as a result. As Phil began to catastrophise, Claire became philosophical and started to look for the learning.

7. You can put an old head on young shoulders. Gloria’s son Manny is wise beyond his years, and makes some fascinating observations about his own life, his mother and the lives of his family. The by-play between young Manny and his step-father Jay (who is also the father of Claire & Cam; and grandparent to Alex, Haley and Luke) is a hoot, particularly when Jay has a disagreement with his wife Gloria.

8. Don’t hoist your ambition on to your kids. Phil is over the moon when he finds that his son Luke has an interest and a talent for magic. Phil is a closet magician, yet his ambition is not matched by his talents. He’s crest-fallen when his talented son loses interest. But he’s big enough to realise that he had been living his life through his son.

9. Every family needs someone to tell it like it is. Grandfather Jay Pritchett is a straight-talker who knows how to cut to the uncomfortable and obvious truth, even though he may step on the sensibilities of his gay son Cam, his highly strung daughter Claire or any of his opinionated grandchildren. Sometimes your family just needs to hear the truth.

10. Families have a balance all of their own. Claire finds 14 year old daughter Alex impossible to live with when sixteen year old Hayley goes to College. Alex argues with Claire at the drop of a hat now that her sister has left home. Peace returns to Claire’s life when Haley returns, giving Alex her sparring partner, and restoring the balance to family life at the same time.

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