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‘Modern Family’ star Julie Bowen reveals the question she asks her sons for effective communication

The 53-year-old actress is mom to Oliver, 16, and twins John and Gustave, 14, whom she co-parents with ex-husband Scott Phillips.

‘Modern Family’ star Julie Bowen reveals the question she asks her sons for effective communication
Cover Image Source: Julie Bowen attends the 2023 Baby2Baby Gala Presented by Paul Mitchell at Pacific Design Center on November 11, 2023, in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Monica Schipper | Getty Images)

Julie Bowen is opening up about her parenting techniques. The 53-year-old actress is mom to Oliver, 16, and twins John and Gustave, 14, whom she co-parents with ex-husband Scott Phillips. The "Happy Gilmore" actress elaborated to TODAY, "I ask my kids, 'Who got in trouble in school today?' I do it all the time. That's been my entry point. But I'm dying to ask, 'Who do you like? Who are you snapping with (on Snapchat)?'"

"But you can't freak out after you've asked the question," the "Modern Family" alum added. "Let's normalize it because all kids get in trouble at some point."

Julie Bowen arrives at ABC studios on January 18, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
Image Source: Julie Bowen arrives at ABC studios on January 18, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

Bowen, who plays the "strict parent" Claire Dunphy in the hit series, isn't afraid to be a mean mom anymore. "The best advice I ever got was to not fear being a 'mean mom,'" she shared, channeling her inner Claire. "Don’t worry if your kids don’t like you—it probably means you're doing something right. My kids are starting to like me but at least once a week, they say, 'Oh no, you’re still that mom.' But I see how my kids have turned out. I love them and I think they’re hilarious. I love hanging out with them," she says.

Speaking of the popular TV show, she admitted her sons don't really watch it (gasp!) "We have one time," she told PEOPLE earlier this year about the family watching reruns. "I said to my twins, 'You're in my stomach right there. You're in this episode.' Because I was pregnant with them on the pilot. They thought that was pretty funny and they watched some of it. But in front of me, they will not watch it." While her kids are "not into it," the actress said, "I heard Julianne Moore say that her kids will never watch anything that she does. I was like, 'Okay, if Julianne Moore, who's a goddess, an Academy Award winner, and her kids won't watch her, then you know what? I'm going to stop pushing it.'"

Image Source: Julie Bowen attends the FOX Broadcasting Company, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX and National Geographic 69th primetime Emmy Awards after party at Vibiana on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images | Photo by Paul Archuleta | FilmMagic)
Image Source: Julie Bowen attends the FOX Broadcasting Company, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX and National Geographic 69th primetime Emmy Awards after party at Vibiana on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images | Photo by Paul Archuleta | FilmMagic)

The family does manage to find activities that they can all do together. "I used to run with them. Now they can run faster than me!" she confessed, "The one thing I can keep up with is skiing. It's a great thing to do together, and we'll do a lot of that this winter." The boys have several interests and they each excel in their fields, according to the proud mom. "One of them is super into sports management, one playing sports and one being an A-plus student. I really have run the gamut," she shared.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Julie Bowen (@itsjuliebowen)


 

Bowen also confessed that back in the day, parents would feel pressured to be perfect all the time and to raise perfect kids. But she's glad things are changing and people are learning to be okay with being just human.  "Good enough is good enough. If you kept your kid alive, fed and healthy, those are huge wins! We don’t give ourselves enough credit for that. Instead, it's, 'You didn’t get an A+?' or 'Why are you dressed like a crazy person?'"

She suggested some ways in which parents can spend more time with their evasive teens. "Drive them everywhere," she advised, "Let them control the music, even if it makes your ears bleed and use that 40 minutes without eye contact or their cell phones and you might get two sentences out of them." If you want to get all the gossip about their lives, she suggested being a carpool mom. "Get more kids in the backseat and shut the heck up," she joked, "That's when you actually get the tea." Great suggestion!


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Julie Bowen (@itsjuliebowen)


 

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