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Early-morning seminary students are modern-day heroes

Aug 25th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

It’s that time of the year again when families are getting back to the routine of life. After a fun-filled and carefree summer, it’s time to regroup and reprioritize our lives. There are school supplies that need to be purchased, new teachers to meet, and friends to reconnect with.

In our family, with our oldest entering high school, there comes a new adjustment: seminary. Given that both my wife and I are adult converts to the church, seminary has always been a mystery to us. For those not as familiar, seminary is a time when kids from 14 to 18 years old choose to attend a class which teaches them about the scriptures.

In some cases, seminary class can take place during school hours. When that’s not available, there’s a different option called, “early-morning seminary.” When I say early morning, I mean REAL early. Kids have to get up at 5 a.m. to attend class from 6 to 7 a.m., then get back home for a quick breakfast before dashing off to school!

What this means, of course, is that parents also have to get up this early. I don’t know about you, but getting up while it’s still dark outside did not sound so appealing to me initially. After a week of taking three teenagers from three different homes to seminary, I have had a complete paradigm shift! Not only have they not complained, but they actually seem like they want to be there and on time, no less! If that’s typical of teenagers, I’d be very surprised.

All I know is that when I drop them off they have a cheerful disposition. They laugh and tease each other and go off to class. These kids are certainly not unique. Since I usually wait for them, I see dozens of other moms and dads drop off their kids. Most of them seem eager to be there although a few look a little sleepy, which is totally understandable.

My question is: what inspires young men and young women to do this every morning?

Is it to please their parents, or is it because it’s expected? Perhaps a little bit of both, but that wouldn’t explain their happy disposition. You can make someone go, but you certainly can’t force them to like it! I believe they have a sincere desire to learn more about the scriptures and the gospel. I have heard from numerous seminary students over the years that it helps them with their priorities in life. It starts their day off on a spiritual note and brings peace to their hearts and minds.

One day last week, I walked the kids inside the classroom, so I could meet their teacher and then I waited and watched for a few minutes. It was shortly after 6 a.m. when I heard them singing a hymn. Instantly, I felt a tremendous reassurance that all was well in the world, at least in our small part of the world. In the midst of all the uncertainty and turmoil, all is truly well. Our youth are the leaders of the future. I am comforted by their dedication, diligence and discipline to do the difficult things such as early-morning seminary. They are my modern-day heroes!

One more note: Over the years we’ve tried really hard to get our kids to bed on time but to no avail. It had been a source of frustration, but early-morning seminary, seems to have taken care of this issue. Our son went to bed at 7:30 p.m. last night, on his own no less! It’s a modern-day miracle!

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Kids, Gifts and Christmas

Dec 15th, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Last week I was interviewed for an editorial article on the topic of children and gifts during this holiday season … and it got me thinking. As parents how well do we prepare are kids for the onslaught of advertisement? Our children are bombarded from television ads, online ads, and every other form of advertisement with the latest “must-have” toys, electronic gadgets and cool clothes.

I hear parents all the time, say that they HAVE to get their kids the latest “stuff” because their kids NEED them! Furthermore, parents are experiencing a lot of anxiety because this year more than any in recent past, their budget is rather limited. Everyone knows that we are in a tough economic period. For most people, born after the Great Depression, this has come as quite a shock! They don’t want to let their kids down, who have grown used to getting everything that they ask for.

This is a great opportunity for parents to teach their kids the difference between wants and needs. When kids say “I need to have the latest iPod, (even though I have two more, but they’re old…”), they misunderstand needs vs. wants. Needs are basic necessities of life like food, shelter, clothing, guidance, and love. Wants are everything else that the advertisers have very cleverly made SO appealing.

Given the current budgetary restraints of most households, this is a great time to teach kids the importance of prioritizing. If they have ten things that they want for Christmas, perhaps it would help them (and their parents) to pick their top 3! If there’s only enough money to buy the top gift, then when birthdays or graduations come around, the parents can get them #2 and #3 on the list. It will teach the kids patience and a real understanding, that in life you don’t always get what you want, nor do you get it instantly. Delayed gratification is one of the signs of maturity. Or, even better, how about if the children work to do extra chores around the house or the neighborhood and earn the money for # 2 or #3 themselves!

Another problem I’ve seen is that far too many parents equate lots of gift giving to giving lots of love. I believe this is called a “parental shortcut.” Good parenting is spending quality time with your children, resolving issues, listening patiently and expressing love, support and tenderness. Honestly when kids grow up they don’t remember the toys. They remember the special times spent together as a family. They remember the traditions, the laughter, the games, the Christmas songs around the fireplace. They remember the activities, like building a snowman, going sledding and having snowball “wars.”

The truth is that gifts break or get lost, sometimes the very same day that they are opened! On the other hand, happy, joyful memories are NEVER lost! That’s what makes our childhood so special…and that’s the best gift of all for us as parents to give to our children!

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

More kids or no kids?

Oct 4th, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I’ve enjoyed reading your advice, but haven’t come across one that
pertains to my situation. I love my husband so much. We have a strong
marriage. He treats me wonderfully. There’s just one pretty major
issue that seems unresolvable. Actually, to him it is resolved. To
him, we are absolutely done having children. My problem is that I would
love to have more. We have already been blessed with 3 children. But,
never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined being done with 3 (when
we got married I wanted 9, he wanted 6). If we must be done, I will be
grateful for what I have. I understand his point of view – that it’s
hard work and draining at times. He is putting in a lot of hours at
work right now and needs a break here and there. He doesn’t know if he
can handle it emotionally. one side of me is symathetic to how he feels
and not wanting, of course, to force (or beg) a responsiblity on him
that he doesn’t want. The other side of me feels like he doesn’t want
more because of selfishness. He talks of wanting more sponteinaity,
etc. I wonder if he just needs to take the plunge into his family and
start enjoying what he has and put the family first instead of his own
wants. Also, a part of me feels like this is my divine priviledge to
bare and raise children. Why is it o.k. for him to spend massive
amounts of time at work to feel fulfilled and not o.k. for me to have
more children? It’s very important to me that I feel like Heavenly
Father is pleased with our decision. However, I don’t even know how to
pray about it. Do I ask if we can be done? It seems strange to pray
for something I don’t want. However, It also seems strange to pray for
something that my husband does not want. Or do I even have a choice
anyway? He’s pretty adamant. He gets quite tense if I even gently
bring it up. Does the vote of the person that doesn’t want it over-ride
the vote of the person that does? In an un-eternal perspective, I
would say yes. My fear is that – what if we should have more and he is
so strongly against it that he wouldn’t even recognize a prompting if it
came? Anyway……hope you can see how I’m stuck on this one. My
ultimate dream would be for him to wake up one day and realize that this
(his family, including the children) really is the source of happiness.
Then he would sweep me off my feet, request more children and suddenly
find more joy in fatherhood. Is this way too much to hope for? I do
ultimately want what is best for our eternal family. Please respond.
Thank you!


Dear AS,

You are in quite a dilemma! There are needs on both sides, yours and
your husband’s which must be weighed equally. From his point of view,
he’s tired and unsure if he can even handle any more kids. Forcing,
begging or tricking him will only breed resentment. On the other hand
you have a desire to bare and raise more children and feel it’s your
divine privilege to do so.

The only possible solution is for both of you to fast and pray for God’s
will in regards to this matter. I am convinced you will both get the
same answer. It may be that having 3 children is enough for your family.
It may be that having more children is the way to go…but perhaps not
right now. The answer may be one which neither of you have contemplated.

So ask your husband if he would be willing to fast and pray and tell him
that you will do the same…without any preconditions. If he agrees,
then set a date and proceed. The only reason why he might say no, is his
fear of what the answer might be: like have more children.

This decision is SO important for your marriage and eternal family that
it must be a mutual one with the Lord’s blessing.

Have faith and courage…it will all work out.

God bless you both,

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

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