MomsOnMonday: Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on March 31st, 2014, 0 Comments

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 18, Las Vegas

An Adults Only Weekend Away

The Framework
Tonight’s episode opens with the adults in Las Vegas for a get-away weekend. The three couples are staying in a connected suite of rooms in a fancy hotel courtesy of Jay’s closet client. But Jay is obsessed with upgrading to even nicer accommodations. And he makes no secret of his obsession.
Jay: There’s a floor above us.
Gloria: What?!
Jay: I know. It threw me too. Excelsior Plus. But to people on that floor we’re “Excelsior Minus!”

Phil and Claire, on the other hand, are both intent on accomplishing secret missions. Phil is auditioning for membership into a secret society of magicians, while Claire’s goal is to win back money she lost years ago.
Claire: Las Vegas you have a gambling problem. And her name is Claire.

Mitch and Cam, explaining, we’re forty; we have a child, seem intent on nothing but relaxing.
Cam (in steam room, glass in hand): I love cucumber water.
Mitch: I know.
Cam: If I were president…
Mitch: I know cucumbers in the reservoirs.
But as it turns out, they too are doing some things on the QT. As Cam puts it: It’s Vegas. [Mitch] doesn’t need to know what I’m doing. I don’t need to know what he’s doing. So if you see him, maybe don’t mention what I’m doing.

Flipping the Frame: My Notes
Tonight’s episode was a delightful farce full of absurd miscommunication and misunderstandings. I laughed out-loud at the incompetence of the characters while at the same time admiring the skill of the actors.

There’s a similar paradox going on in teens. Our kids grow bigger, smarter, and stronger during their teen years. But at the same time their chances of getting hurt or running into trouble go way up. Neuroscientists who’ve tracked brain changes in adolescents say that teens’ reward systems (unlike those of younger children or adults) seem to bias teens’ choices and decisions towards the thrill even if there is some risk. Another words, our teens are biologically set to seek out thrills and take risks.

So were the Modern Family teens left at home busy with secrets of their own?

BottomLine
Phil (introducing his magic trick): They say the only constant is change. Well, all of that is about to ch… be different.

When it comes to kids, change is a constant. Sometimes, though, the more things change, the more they stay the same. For as soon as our kids are grown-up enough to take care of themselves while we’re away, we have to consider getting a sitter for the house. Need convincing? Click here. And here.

Tonight’s show doesn’t bother with the planning that went into this adult-only get-away. So we can only guess about the arrangements made for the kids left at home. Of course, there’s Andy, baby Joe’s manny. He’s competent and often seems like he needs more to do. Plus we’ve seen Hailey’s slow but steady maturation this season. More then likely their kids and their homes were in good hands.

But what about our teens? Could we leave them home alone while we went away for a weekend? Should we?

What’s a Mom to Do?
Without the kids, tonight’s show had a fun, fresh energy. The same kind of energy that a weekend away without our kids can provide. Here are few pointers to keep in mind before packing your bags.

Consider your teen’s past behavior. Your teen’s maturity level and track record, rather than their age, matter most. Have they proven themselves to be trustworthy by following your rules and respecting your property in the past? Or do they have a history of ignoring your directions and acting impulsively? Your teen’s recent history is the best predictor of their future behavior.

Know your teen’s friends. Would their friends be likely to pressure your teen into hosting a party? If so, don’t risk it.

Establish clear rules for staying home alone. These should include whether they can have friends over while you’re away. And if so, how many. As you consider this, take the number you’re comfortable with and divide it by two. If you’re wondering why, remember their brains are a construction site. And to work with them, we have to figure out how they count. Perhaps do a test run, letting them entertain a few friends while you are out of sight. If all goes according to plan, fine. If not, don’t leave them alone.

Spread the word. Notify neighbors that you’ll be away and ask them to watch out for signs of trouble brewing – like a lot of kids, cars, or noise. And ask friends or family members to stop by occasionally to check on things. Tell your teens about the checks you’ve put in place so they’ll think twice about hosting a party.

If these pointers have left you wavering back and forth about which way to go, you’re not alone. This is a common conundrum when parenting teens. I often suggest giving teens the benefit of the doubt and a chance to build trust. In this case, though, I’d probably opt for the peace of mind that a house sitter can bring.

And take heart. Adolescence is a stage. Things do change. And almost always for the better.

Your Parenting Experiences
Have you left your teen home alone overnight or longer? How did it go?



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