MomsOnMonday: Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on October 7th, 2013, 0 Comments

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 3, Larry’s Wife

Claire and Phil Aren’t Paying Attention

The Framework

“Control” is what knotted the plotlines together tonight on Modern Family. After agreeing to let Cam plan their wedding, Mitch has trouble letting go of control. Look no further than the fake cat funeral to see why. As Cam admits: This was supposed to be a small service. But I don’t winnow down. I overdo. Meanwhile at the Pritchett’s, Gloria is worrying that a family curse has put baby Joe under the devil’s control. And over at the Dunphy household things are getting out of control.
Phil: I’ve been on something of a hot streak at work. I’ve tapped into a rich vein of new clients: recently divorced moms. You might say I hit the single mother lode.

With Phil on his hot streak and Claire preoccupied with her new job, Luke has been hosting poker games in the basement, and his luck seems to have gone cold. As he laments: We lost everything down there.

Flipping the Frame: My Notes

Claire and Phil seem oblivious to the money (among other things) changing hands in their basement. But so what? What’s the big deal if kids get together and gamble – especially if it’s in your or a neighbor’s basement?

Parents’ answers to this question vary. Some parents are all for teen gambling – even citing benefits such as social interaction, practice with math and number skills, and learning to consider risks. Other parents are wary, but condone it – explaining that they can’t stop their kids, that it means they know where their kids are, and that the standard $10 buy-in is less than their teen would spend going to a movie. Yet other parents frown on their kids getting involved in any type of gambling. Pointing to the research on the impulsivity of the developing teen brain, they worry that their kids will keep playing even when losing a great deal or that gambling now may set their kids up for lifelong trouble.

So what’s a mom to do?

Regardless of which parent camp you’re in, your best bet is to negotiate with your teen. As strange as it sounds, negotiating makes it more likely that your teen will honor the limits you set – whatever they are.

Stay with me now. This doesn’t mean your kid gets to do whatever they want. On the contrary, kids need limits regardless of their age. And kids of all ages seem to be programmed to test those limits.

When kids are young, our limits are a lot like walls. As long as we’re sturdy, they’re not going to walk all over us. But as our kids get bigger, stronger, and smarter, our sturdy presence is not enough. Because our limits become more like lines. It’s our job to draw those lines so that our teens know what is acceptable and what is out of bounds. But our teens have to decide whether or not to step over those lines. To keep our teens healthy and safe requires their cooperation. And we can go a long way in gaining our teens’ cooperation when it comes to gambling (and everything else) by being willing to negotiate with them.

Negotiating doesn’t mean giving into your teen. It doesn’t even mean always giving ground. Instead to negotiate means:
– Engaging your teen in open-minded discussions.
– Listening to them without interruption and respecting their right to have an opinion different than yours no matter how crazy their idea is.
– Letting your teen know what your concerns, values, and boundaries are.
– Being flexible and saying “yes” if your teen fully addresses your concerns so that you can say “yes” and still be a responsible parent.
– And it means holding the line and explaining why you can’t give an inch (and what it would take for you to reevaluate the situation down the road) as objectively and respectfully as possible when you have to say “no.”


Haley: Thanks for winning my computer back.
Luke: And getting me all my money.
Alex: Yeah. If only I’d stopped there. But I had to go back down. I got greedy, and I was careless.
Haley: There’s a story about that I remember from school. Icarus flew too close to his son; I think their wings bumped; one of them fell. I think they might have been ducks. Anyway, the lesson is you have to pay attention.

Teens aren’t the only ones who have to pay attention when gambling. In fact, teen social gambling is only a big problem if we parents are not paying attention.

Paying attention starts with drawing the line between what is acceptable and what is not for your teen. If you consider any form of gambling out of bounds, you need to say so. If you’re willing to condone some social gambling, then you need to be clear about what is acceptable – when, where, with whom, how, and how much. And you need to keep tabs on what they’re doing and step in if you see that the pot is getting too big, the kids are starting to write IOUs to each other, or they’re starting to collateral their personal belongings.

And you need to monitor your teen’s behavior to make sure that their low-stakes gambling isn’t turning into a high-stakes problem. This means keeping an eye out for troubling signs like these:
– Borrowing from family and friends and not repaying
– Missing personal belongings
– Spending lots of time at online gaming sites
– Being overly concerned with sports scores
– Having unexplained debts or large amounts of cash
– Having unexplained absences from school or falling grades
– Withdrawing from activities, friends, and family
– Being distracted, moody, or anxious

Claire. Phil. Pay attention!

Your Parenting Experiences

Poker parties may not be quite as popular as they were a few years back. But now that football season has started, many kids are getting involved in fantasy football. And if money starts changing hands, the fun turns into gambling.

Does your teen have a fantasy football team? Is money changing hands? If so, what do you consider acceptable?

Sources: Teens + Gambling = Trouble

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