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Why Julie Bowen's family is so different from the Dunphys

The "Modern Family" alum is mom of Oliver, 14, and 12-year-old twins John and Gustav.
/ Source: TODAY

Julie Bowen is raising three kids, just like her character, Claire Dunphy, on "Modern Family." But they communicate very differently.

“On TV shows, people talk to each other,” said Bowen, whose fictional TV children included daughters Haley and Alex and son Luke. “When you have three boys, it’s more like grunting. And you identify their mood kind of by their smell. It’s like living with wild animals.”

The mom of Oliver, 14, and 12-year-old twins John and Gustav, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s hairy, it’s smelly and I love them,” Bowen, 51, told TODAY Parents. “They own me.”

The Emmy-winning actor opened up about her family at The Baby2Baby 10 Year Gala Presented by Paul Mitchell in Los Angeles on Saturday. Baby2Baby provides critical items like diapers and wipes to children in need across the U.S. Bowen noted that the L.A.-based charity has distributed more than 200 million items since 2011.

"It's really, really important," she said. "It's making a difference."

Baby2Baby recently began manufacturing their own diapers at 6 cents per diaper, far below the average retail cost to consumers.

"In the last year, we received requests for 731 million diapers, which is a 500% increase from pre-pandemic time," Baby2Baby co-CEO Kelly Sawyer Patricof told TODAY Parents in Sept. "You can see how families are struggling even more since COVID and there’s a long road ahead, so when we can provide families with diapers, they can put food on the table, pay their rent, and hopefully get back on their feet."

Baby2Baby 10-Year Gala Presented By Paul Mitchell - Gala
Julie Bowen attended the Baby2Baby 10-Year Gala on Nov. 13. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Baby2Baby

Bowen shares Oliver, John and Gustav with her ex-husband, real estate investor Scott Phillips. Last year, she told People that she and Phillips are “still very close.” She credits him for helping her get through COVID-19 lockdown.

“[He] told me he’d read somewhere that you spend 75% of all the time you’ll ever spend with your kids before they are 16. And somehow that made me so sad. Every time I think, ‘Oh my God this pandemic has go to end, these kids have to go back to school!’ I think to myself, ‘But I’m getting this extra time with them,’” she told the publication. “So that has kept me sane to a large degree.”

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