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Parents should be parents: Especially on ABC's Modern Family

For what I think has been nearly 5 years, I have been a loyal "Modern Family" viewer.  My youngest son introduced me to the show when he was still in high school.  We had a great time watching shows as a family.  I'm what you call an "appointment viewer."  I actually set aside a half hour every week to put my feet up and laugh with the "Modern Family" characters as they navigate the ever-changing landscape of family dynamics, raising teens, step children, gay marriage, divorce, dating, chores, teaching kids to drive, boundaries, etc.  And I can say I have truly enjoyed most episodes because the script-writing is usually so clever and accurately portrays modern family life.  But this week’s episode (Dec. 10, 2014) crossed a boundary that I found alarming and disappointing.

Was it the "I want to be your friend, not your parent" message?  I don't subscribe to that thinking....parents should be parents.  But that didn't get me annoyed because the child in question was turning 21.  I guess a mom and daughters' relationship changes when they turn 21.  Was it the purchase of a brand new car for a 21-year old who hadn't done anything to warrant such a purchase?  Maybe, but that's probably just because I'm jealous and can't afford to buy my kids a car and they do deserve one.   The boundary that the writers and producers crossed has to do with drunk drinking 

I was so dismayed that the last scene showed the intoxicated 21-year old who received the new car as a gift getting into the car and preparing to drive off.  The more than tipsy mom tells the daughter she should not drive after drinking (yeah!).  But the other adults seem to say "Oh, you only turn 21 once," or something along those lines and the viewer is given the distinct impression that the girl is indeed going to drive away in her car after doing shots and drinking a number of other drinks, obviously impaired.  Why would ABC choose to have this as the final message?  The sober dad could have easily retorted with something witty, as he usually does, and be the voice of reason. 

Does ABC not know how hard it is as a parent to provide guidance on these matters and raise responsible adults? Are they not aware how hard it is to be consistent and credible and to be a parent and not a friend?  Is ABC not aware of the dangers or the statistics surrounding drunk driving?  Is ABC not aware of all the years of hard work and investment made by Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, SADD, MADD, National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS), the Governors Highway Safety Administration, and nearly every insurance company to address drunk driving issues?  Huge progress has been made (yeah!), but there are still too many crashes and deaths every year.  Given what seems to be ABC's lack of comprehension on this important issue, they are undermining the good work and the investment made by government, non-profits and industries that are trying to keep our roads safe.

"Modern Family" had been doing a great job bringing up issues for parents and their children to discuss. But parenting is hard enough without ABC producing stories for "family viewing" that feature  characters who throw all caution to the wind and glibly cross  boundaries, especially ones such as "drinking and driving" where lives are at stake, while the parents in the show urge them on.

Be a partner in the parenting dialogue, ABC, not the enemy

*Written By Carol Ann Lobo, National Education Partnerships of Young Minds Inspired*

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.* Editorial Comment:

While we settle into the comfortable, yet stressful holiday season, we need to remember the importance of making responsible choices around alcohol. Too many times unbeknownst children lay victim to the over indulged parents’ choice to drive drunk, and too many times young adults face tough decisions on whether or not they can drive home after a night with friends. Luckily, many "sober ride" programs exist across the country. In the D.C. Metro Area, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) provides free rides to anyone who happens to find themselves too impaired to drive home. If you’re ever out and about in either downtown D.C. or Clarendon, during the holidays, you can catch their Sober Ride mascot, Sober Woman. In bright red and yellow spandex she takes the town by storm, relentlessly asking the inebriated masses if they have a safe and sober ride home and, dependent of the answer, gives away $5.00 Starbucks gift cards and a safe way home.

Plan ahead for a safe ride home this season: #HolidayResponsibly.

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