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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MomsOnMonday: Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on September 30th, 2013, 1 Comment

Season 5, Episodes 1 & 2, Today’s a New Beginning and First Days

Phil Gets It Right Twice Tonight

The Framework

With a nod to California Supreme Court’s recent ruling, Cam and Mitch both get down on one knee tonight in the season’s premier and say “yes” to a new beginning. Meanwhile Claire and Phil long for the time alone they had in the beginning. It takes some manipulating of kids (as well as their schedules) to coordinate Luke’s summer camp with Alex’s volunteering trip and Haley’s getaway to the beach. But they get it done and have a whole week without kids. And over at the Pritchett house, Manny is set to begin his first solo trip to Columbia. Gloria misses him before he’s gone. Jay misses him too – once he’s gone.

There were more new beginnings in the second half hour of the season’s premier. Claire goes to work at Jay’s company. Lily almost starts first grade. Cam gets hired as a coach for the football team. And Luke and Manny begin their freshman year of high school.

As Phil drops Luke off for his first day, there was this exchange between father and son:
Phil: Buddy, I know a new school can be scary. So a little advice: Every time you meet someone new, pay them a compliment. Like umm, “I love your hair.” “Awesome kicks.” “You have a beautiful smile.”
Luke (with a smirk): Okay, Dad, I’ll tell that big guy over there that he’s got a beautiful smile. … Could you maybe not walk me all the way in. I’ve got it from here.

Flipping the Frame: My Notes

Like Claire and Phil, sometimes we feel as though we can’t live with our kids one more minute. But as Gloria and Jay found, we always know deep down that we can’t live without them.

Guess what. Our teens have similar mixed messages running through their heads.

To grow up, our teens have to disentangle their identities from ours and develop a sense of independence. And the best way they know how to do this is to push us away: “I don’t need you telling me what to do anymore!” But even as they tell us to get out of their life, they’re sending us another message: “No matter how hard I push you away, please don’t let go.” This second message is easy to miss. But if you look closely, you’re bound to see it. For this kind of mixed messaging is a part of typical teen development.

We saw this double communication play out tonight. When Phil gave Luke some tips on making friends and fitting in, Luke gave him the cold shoulder. He had to. Luke’s drive for autonomy means that he can’t appreciate such help from his dad any more. If he did, he’d be setting himself up to be dependent on Phil – the guy he’s trying to be seen as (and eventually become) independent from.

But even though Luke rejected his dad’s advice, he didn’t ignore it. For as he left school that day, there was this exchange:
Big guy with the nice smile: See you tomorrow, Luke.
Luke (grinning): Not if I see you first. The two boys bump fists, and then Luke says: There it is. There’s that smile.

Phil who came to drive Luke home, hears his advice being put to use but says nothing. He simply smiles and nods his head. And as father and son walk to the car together, they too bump fists.


Cam: Today is a new beginning. And that can be scary.

This is part of Cam’s message meant to inspire his new football team. But his words have meaning for adolescents both on and off the field. Because being a teen is full of new and firsts. It can be confusing. Even scary. And during these times our teens can benefit from our sturdy presence.

Sometimes we need to offer advice to our teens. To not do so would be to abandon them. But often the minute we open our mouths and start making suggestions, our teens stop listening. They point out how wrongheaded our advice is. And if we continue, they get mad and accuse us of trying to run their life. They have to reject our advice. Like Luke, they can’t help it.

So what’s a mom to do?

– When you decide to offer advice, float your suggestions by your teen. By using a light, take-it-or-leave-it tone, you’re making it more likely that your teen will pay attention to your advice, take it with them, and use it later.

– Be prepared for your teen to reject your input. And try not to take the rejection personally. Because it’s not about you. It’s about your teen restoring their sense of independence. Plus rejecting your advice is not the same thing as ignoring it. I know it sounds crazy, but by rejecting your input – either by telling you how unhelpful your advice is or by becoming offended that you’re trying to control them – your teen is being freed up to use your advice later on.

– If you learn that your teen has put your advice to use, don’t dare try to claim credit for the idea. If you do, you’ll not get the gratitude you hoped for. Because your teen will have to pick a fight with you to reclaim their sense of independence. So instead of expecting to be thanked, be content in knowing that your teen has taken in some of your wisdom and used it in their quest to grow up. And just as important, know that you’ve strengthened and deepened the connection between the two of you.

Phil gets it right twice tonight. First when he spoke up and floated a helpful idea by Luke. And later when he just smiled and nodded his head.

Sources: Staying Connected to Your Teenager by Michal Riera

Flipping the Frame: Your Parenting Experiences

It helps to remember that your teen will outgrow this stage. Eventually they will be able to be more gracious when it comes to your advice. We were reminded of this in a scene at the end of tonight’s episode. It’s Claire’s first day working for her father. It’s late, but she is still at the office because the computer system has crashed, and Claire is indirectly responsible.
Jay: How’s the data entry coming?
Claire: Good. I’m up to 1998.
Jay: Ahh. That’s when I’d already been doing the job for 20 years.
Claire: So maybe I should listen to you.
Jay: Get you home a lot earlier.

How old were you when the way you dealt with your parents’ advice changed for the better?

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