We know that Marvel is having a [well-deserved] moment, but we don’t have to go to the movies to see a superhero in action. And that’s not because we don’t have a babysitter (although that certainly doesn’t help). It’s because if we want to see superhuman strength, we can find a parent who has been rocking a baby in their arms for the last two hours trying to get them to fall asleep. If we want to see someone spew intricate, far-reaching webs, we can find a parent who is negotiating with a toddler. And if we want to see a mind reader, we can find a parent who can predict exactly what will cause their child to melt down, or what they will ask for next.
Are you getting the picture? Parents have all sorts of superpowers — endurance, persuasion, patience — that keep the peace and keep villains (we’re looking at you, hanger!) at bay. So when we asked Jesse Tyler Ferguson — who shares sons Beckett and Sullivan with husband Justin Mikita — what his parenting superpower is, we were so touched by his answer.
“I think it’s Justin, to be honest,” he tells SheKnows exclusively. “He’s definitely the buttress that’s keeping the family together.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
“Yeah, I don’t know if I have one,” the actor continues, much to our disbelief. “I just reap the benefits of having someone who’s super organized and great at schedules. The scheduling literally gives me a headache. My mind spins with Beckett. He has a whole schedule of things to do. And then Sully is on his own sleep schedule and eating schedule. It’s a lot. So to have someone who’s so good with managing that is a true gift.”
Ok, now we’re all crying!
When we sat down with Ferguson, he and Mikita were adding every parent’s favorite activity to Beckett’s schedule: potty training. It involved “a lot of helicoptering” and constantly asking their toddler the age-old question: “Are you holding your penis because you need to go potty?”
Ferguson says the training is actually going pretty well. He did do his homework, reading some books and crowdsourcing advice, but he is ultimately following his instincts and recommending that others do the same. Because at the end of the day, hovering over a naked Beckett for four days while everything in the house was covered in plastic was just not realistic for him and his family.
“Like, that system’s not gonna work for me,” he says. “It’s just not. I know it’s not gonna happen. So [it’s all about] figuring out whatever is going to work for you and picking and choosing advice.”
When potty training isn’t the focus, Beckett is very active. Ferguson says he loves swimming, soccer, zoos, live theater, the hustle and bustle of The Big Apple, and listening to Grammy Award-winners. It turns out Mikita’s insistence that they listen to Britney Spears on the drive home from the hospital nearly three years ago has paid off.
“What I love is that Beckett requests [songs],” Ferguson says. “He does love Beyonce, he does love Taylor Swift, and he does love Billie Eilish. So that’s pretty cool.”
Meanwhile, Sully, the “more laid back” brother, has pretty standard interests for a 5-month-old: eating, sleeping, and pooping, with that first one being his favorite. He doesn’t quite have the palate of his older brother, who eats salmon — “At least this week he does. I mean, talk to me next week, and he probably won’t” — but he is all about his bottle. That’s why Ferguson uses Enfamil’s Enspire Optimum baby formula which includes ingredients found in breast milk like lactoferrin.
“Justin and I aren’t breastfeeding, surprise, surprise,” Ferguson jokes. “So it’s nice knowing that we’re giving him all the nutrition that he needs.”
Plus, it’s comforting to have a constant in Sully’s life while juggling the whims of his Spears-loving, salmon-eating toddler. It’s just nice, he says, to have a no-brainer that he can know is taken care of. Once Sully has taken his final bottle of the day and the kiddos are (hopefully) fast asleep, Ferguson turns to Mikita to go over what needs to be taken care of tomorrow.
“My parenting mantra would be, ‘Let’s talk about tomorrow,'” he says. “…It’s a lot about communication with Justin like, ‘Okay, we got through this day, let’s talk about tomorrow.'”
That practice is one of the main differences he sees between himself and his Modern Family character, Mitchell. “I don’t think [Mitch] and Cam necessarily sat in bed the night before like, ‘All right, what’s going on tomorrow? Let’s talk about tomorrow.’ I don’t think they did that. I think they were more of the ‘wing it’ family.”
But much like Mitch, it is clear when talking to Ferguson that he is so grateful to be doing this crazy thing called parenting while surrounded by his village, which includes in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, and even the cast of Modern Family — and we were touched to hear he turns to them for guidance.
“The one who’s given me the most parenting advice is Julie Bowen [who plays Mitch’s sister Claire],” he says. “And I trust her immensely. She’s very type A as well. She has great resources. She’s been through this. She has three kids. I actually truly, genuinely asked for advice from her a lot.”
And, of course, he turns to his superhero husband of almost 10 years. “I’m lucky enough to be doing this with a partner,” he says. “Some people don’t do this with a partner, but I’m lucky enough to have a partner.”
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