Gateway Commmunity Church Associate Pastor Jason Abbott, back right, along with, front from left, daughter Bethany, son Daniel, back from left, son Noah, and wife Amy, will be teaching parenting seminars at his church.
One of the toughest problem parents have? Understanding that God has placed them in authority over their children, but that they must approach that responsibility with humble hearts. That's what Gateway Community Church Associate Pastor Jason Abbott said will be among the topics discussed in the upcoming "Real Parenting" seminars the church is offering free to the public in July and August.
"Yes, what we say goes and as parents, we're the leaders, but we have to approach it with humble hearts," said Abbott, the father of three children ranging in age from 6 to 15.
"There's definitely a tendency of being in an authority role to say, 'I said it and it goes.' There's equal danger in both sides of the coin -- to disengage and not want to take on the role of leader in the home."
Gateway Community Church, which is located at 11677 Brown Bridge Road in Covington, will kick off its three parenting seminars July 29 with "The 10 Best Gifts You'll Ever Give Your Kids."
"If you can only make it to one class because of yours schedule, make it that one," Abbott said. "It really kicks it off in a good way."
The free seminars will be held on Sundays, July 29, Aug. 5 and 12 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Childcare is available by calling 770-787-1015.
"This is a new thing for us," Abbott said. "We've devoted a lot of time -- two years -- in elevating our focus on marriage and family and we've done a lot of different marriage seminars over the last two years. This is one specific to parenting."
Abbott said the seminars are free and open to the community and he hopes every parent, teacher and anyone else interested will come out and take part.
"It's a piece of the puzzle," he added.
In holding its marriage seminars, Abbott said the church was addressing a crisis in which statistics show about 50 percent of all marriages fail.
"A lot of the problems we're seeing is we bring to our marriages a lot of preconceived ideas," he said. "Whether from our parents, or culture, society and media -- those things shape our opinions going into it. We've brought all this into these marriages.
"...(The marriage seminars) may have been the most well-attended things we've offered here except for our concerts."
The marriage seminars served as a springboard for the latest seminars the church will offer on parenting. A number of issues will be covered, Abbott said, including birth order of children, how to listen to kids, how to talk to kids and help them overcome the bad influences of the Internet, media and technology.
"There are some good influences, but there are bad ones too," Abbott said.
In gathering materials and information for the "Real Parenting" seminars, the main resource has been the work of Dr. Kevin Leeman, Abbott said. He is an internationally known psychologist, radio and TV personality who has written numerous books and talked to audiences about marriage, parenting and self-improvement. He is the father of five and grandfather of two.
"Throughout the course there are biblical principles," Abbott said. "The wisdom literature of the Bible, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes will be constantly brought up. It's not just what we've found works in a lab or polling."
Abbott said parents say some of their major concerns are about the bad influences their children are exposed to and communication.
"A lot of it (has to do with) communication with your son or daughter," Abbott said. "Make sure that they never feel like you're the police just trying to catch them doing something wrong so you can throw the book at them. This is big on communication and helping them understand where you're coming from and your perspective on it."
Another concern deals with discipline, he said.
"That's something that comes up a lot," Abbott said. "Some parents think they should be more this way or that way. Some have a lot of baggage and feel like their parents did it completely wrong, so they do the opposite."
He said one of the topics for discussion at the seminar will be the preconceived ideas people have about parenting.
"We really lean on what our parents did even if we don't agree with it," he said. "The famous quote, 'I'll never be that way,' if we sit down and examine it, we realize we really did copy the blueprint on that."
Abbott, who has been married to his wife Amy for 16 years, has been involved in all the marriage seminars at Gateway and is now coordinating the upcoming parenting seminars for the church.
Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Snellville, Ga. If you have a story idea, contact features editor Karen J. Rohr at firstname.lastname@example.org.