A Deeper Look at “The Kids are All Right”

The Real Story: Personality and Family Dynamics.


The Real Story: Personality and Family Dynamics

The Story Line.

This is a “slice of life” movie.  It takes place over a couple of months or so in the lives of two lesbian women,  Nic and Jules.  Each of these women was impregnated by the same anonymous sperm donor and each bore a child.  The eldest kid, Joannie, is finishing her senior year in high school as a National Merit Scholar.  The younger boy, Laser, is still in high school but bored with it, into sports and, unfortunately, has a loser friend.

First, I think we, as moviegoers, were mislead by the movie’s label, “comedy.”  I saw the movie twice, thinking I missed the comedy parts but found that “No” I hadn’t missed them; I just couldn’t find any.  This is a serious study in personality and family dynamics.

On the surface, Nic and Jules deal with a crisis in their partnership that occurs because Laser convinces Joannie to find their biological father.  When she does, Joannie, Laser and Paul meet and become friends.  A little later, Nic and Jules learn about and meet Paul, a successful restaurant owner.

Paul is attracted to Jules.  When he offers her a landscaping job at his restaurant, she takes it and, soon, they fall into an affair. Nic discovers the
betrayal and the kids are told.  Paul urges Jules to leave Nic and come with him but she rejects him.  Instead, she rides out the emotional separation she’s created with Nic and the kids and on the day they all drop Joannie off at her university dorm, there’s a thaw in Nic’s icy demeanor.  Jules and Nic’s relationship begins to heal.

Now, for A Deeper Look.

(1)  Opposites Attract.  It’s true that most of us are attracted to our opposite personality.  It’s also true that while we may love, commit to and/or marry our opposites, often the very traits that we’re attracted to begin to annoy us over time.  That’s true here with Nic and Jules.

Nic is a combination of the Superiority (Achieving) and Control personalities. She’s smart, driven, perfectionistic, and cares intensely about rules and order.  She’s strung pretty tightly and to handle herself, she drinks too much.  She’s also a “head” person meaning that she’s unaware of most of her feelings or pooh-poohs them. She treats life as a problem to be solved. She looks at people negatively, critically and judgmentally.

Nic gives mixed messages to Jules.  She likes the fact that Jules leans on her strength and sureness. Of course, a resulting bonus is that Nic is “in control.”  But, she’s quickly critical of Jules for not “making something of herself.”

Jules is a Comfort personality, meaning that she’s passive and hates any kind of pressure, which is why she shows so little direction in her life. She’s started 3 or 4 careers; all have amounted to nothing.  At middle-age, she’s still uncertain and hasn’t “found” herself.  The result?  Low self-esteem.

She’s a high-maintenance partner for Nic but seems unaware of it.  On a better note, she’s also the couple’s “feeling” and “relationship” person, always trying for a deeper connection with Nic and the kids.  This need for deeper connection in her is one of the reasons she responds to Paul so quickly.  He gives her the encouragement, attention and understanding that Nic doesn’t.

(2) The other deeper concept here is:  children unconsciously decide their personalities by the age of five, though most adults are unaware that it’s happening.  Usually the oldest child will “follow,” that is, will take on more personality traits of the parent that she or he perceives  to be the strongest.  The second child takes the traits of the other parent.  Why?  Seldom will a child compete with the sibling above.  So here, Joannie is much more like Nic, Laser much more like Jules.  (We’ll only hope that Laser can grow more confidence earlier rather than later in his
life, unlike his mother, Jules.)

The saddest person in this group of five turns out to be Paul.  When we first meet him, he’s content with his life as a successful bachelor restaurant owner.  He seems to like living a surface personal life with various attractive women.  In the short space of 3 or 4 months, he meets his two biological children, wants to commit to Jules but is rejected by both Jules and Nic, as well as the kids, for their own various reasons.  At the movie’s end it’s uncertain whether any of the relationships he came to value will ever be part of his life again.  Sad.

If you’re interested in studying personalities and relationships, you’ll want to see “The Kids are All Right.”   Even without seeing it, though, I hope these ideas interest you enough to take a deeper look at your own family or other families you know.  Give it a try.  The more we understand about ourselves and our families, the more happiness and peace we have.

Thanks for stopping by.


Warmest regards until next time,


By the way, you can become more acquainted with the four personalities I’ve mentioned in this review by visiting my other sites, especially www.allaboutpersonalities.com.

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