Psychology and TV Families Starring "Modern Family"

At Imagine Hope we hear a lot of stories from clients about their families. As we watch how the media portrays families, we see that many of our clients can relate to the stories we see on TV. Each day this week we will dig into some popular families and draw from their positive traits and dysfunctions.

Modern Family

ABC's Modern Family is one of my favorite shows. Not only is it great for laughing out loud, but it also gives a somewhat accurate picture of "The Modern Family" of today. Compared to many of the original TV families in the 50's, Modern Family isn't shy about sharing common family dysfunctions.

The premise revolves around 3 related families. The first family is the patriarch father Jay and his much younger Columbian wife and her younger son. He comes off as fairly counterdependent, harsh, and focused on himself and his work. There are several references to how he parents his stepson differently than he parented his own children (Clarie and Mitchell) who are now adults. Jay has several points in the series where he sees his mistakes and softens when it comes to his step parenting and in small ways rekindling with his adult children. Overall he is uncomfortable with emotion and has a need to always be right.

The second family is perfectionist Claire (Jay's adult daughter and stay at home mom) and her goofy husband and 3 kids. In this family you see some of the typical trouble with parenting. Sneeky teens, attitudes, trouble with parenting from a united front, sibling rivalry, and lack of motivation for academics are all regular topics of scenes with this family. Clarie is consistently trying to teach her kids life lessons that tend to backfire in her face. Claire's parenting efforts are rarely backed up as her husband tries to be cool and befriend the kids, which shows common marital strife that is realistic in today's families.

The third family is Mitchell (Jay's adult homosexual son), his partner, Cameron, and their adopted daughter, Lilly. In this family you see Mitchell and Cameron's common day bickerings and struggles of being a couple and parents.

Seeing these three families interact, you watch adult children of dysfunctional parenting, martial strife, sibling troubles, and step parenting issues play out. But Modern Family also shows that even in the midst of all the dysfunction and disagreements, love can connect you and open your eyes to what it means to be family. No family is perfect, and perfection doesn't have to exist to feel loved and connection. There are many little lessons to be learned (along with a lot of laughs) from this show.

Keep checking in this week for more examples of families in the media. I'm sure you will find many things you and your family can relate to!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Teri is licensed in Indiana & Florida and provides Virtual Therapy.