Jesse Tyler Ferguson Shares the Unexpected Gift All Dads Should Give Themselves
Parenting isn't for the faint of heart! The Modern Family star talks to Reader’s Digest about navigating life as a dad of two—and the tricks that keep him sane.
Ask Jesse Tyler Ferguson about the biggest adjustment in going from a dad of one child to a dad of two, and he has a highly relatable answer. “You’re so focused on being a parent of one, and when the second comes in or the third or the fourth, if you’re having triplets, my god, the division of attention is so immediate,” the Modern Family star tells Reader’s Digest. “It really does ask a lot of everyone involved, including the kid you already have.”
Being a dad may seem like a Herculean feat some days. But Ferguson and husband Justin Mikita, who welcomed son Beckett in 2020 and their second son, Sullivan, in 2022, manage by divvying up everyday duties according to their respective strengths. “Justin’s much better at the calendar and planning things, so all things around school and extracurricular activities, he’s really good about that. I’m really good at meal prep, I’m good at packing lunches, and I’m really good at organizing—I love it. Nothing makes me happier than getting a drawer organized.” We’re guessing he also tells his fair share of dad jokes.
Taking a short break from their buzzing two-toddler household, Ferguson and Mikita recently treated themselves to a pre–Father’s Day beach staycation in Santa Monica, California, arranged through Citi Travel with Booking.com, which offers more than 1.4 million hotels worldwide. Ferguson opened up to Reader’s Digest about the importance of spending some alone time as a couple, which of his Modern Family castmates he turns to for parenting advice and how he thinks his own character, Mitchell, and on-screen husband, Cam, fared at fatherhood.
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Reader’s Digest: Why did you decide to take a pre–Father’s Day trip, just the two of you?
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: We’ll probably do something with the kids on the actual day, but it was nice to do something that was just the two of us for the two of us. I think it’s so important to stay connected to your spouse and do things that don’t involve the kids. We have Justin’s mom, who lives close to us and is very helpful when we need to get away.
Reader’s Digest: How did you and Justin spend your staycation?
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: You can also book activities through the Citi Travel site, so we booked bikes and took them around Santa Monica and Venice. We went to dinner, and some friends of ours met up with us. You forget what it’s like interacting with adults when you have children. But it was pretty low-key. I’m a big proponent of not overplanning. I think it’s important to overplan with kids, to have things set up, visit attractions and have things to do. When it’s just adults, it’s like, Having time to just read a book for an hour or two—isn’t that great?!
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Reader’s Digest: The two of you have an upcoming trip to Greece as well?
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: Yes, for our 10th wedding anniversary. We’re very excited about that. We’re going to New York for a little bit before, because we got married in New York, and seeing some theater and some friends.
Reader’s Digest: Who from the Modern Family cast would be most helpful with childcare tips?
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: Well, the characters are different from the actual people. For the character, I would probably ask Gloria. She went through a lot of hardship—she’s resilient, and she has it all figured out. The last person I’d ask would probably be Haley. (Laughs) If we’re talking real people, Julie Bowen is someone I get parenting advice from all the time, mostly because she’s close, and if she needs to come over, she’s available. She’s really great.
Reader’s Digest: What about Mitchell and Cam? Looking back, how do you think they did as parents?
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: So many people ask if I got any parenting advice from playing a father for 11 years, and the answer is no. We definitely dealt with universal themes like Ferberizing the baby—that was something I definitely was dealing with. I relate to them a lot as new parents, but I don’t necessarily look to them for advice.
I do think they did the best they possibly could with the given circumstances. We left them in the series starting fatherhood again with another baby. I hope whatever alternative universe those characters are living in, they’re having a great time with that.