19 kids? Check. Faith and family first? Check. Reality television show? Check.
No, it’s not the Duggars of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Meet the Bates family of UP!’s new reality show “Bringing Up Bates.”
While the Bates family share many similarities to the Duggars, Gil and Kelly Jo Bates told FOX411 their new show is very different from their TLC counterparts.
“Just like within your own family, every child you have is so different,” Kelly Jo told FOX411. “It’s the same with our family and with our show. There are so many different personalities, different circumstances, different states, different jobs, different things happening in the children’s lives that make our show different.”
The couple, who have been married for nearly three decades, say they owe the success of their marriage to God.
“The most important thing in our relationship is what brings us together: The Lord. That kind of love is something that helps you work on problems and forgive and not be selfish,” explained Kelly Jo.
“I would agree and ditto what she said and add that she really exhibits what it means to be a Godly and loving Christian wife,” Gil said.
The Bates said they have the same struggles as any parents. Although they have a few more children than the average family, they remain active in each child’s life in order to ensure they stay true to their family values.
“We try to start our morning with a family Bible study time. We feel that was really key in keeping our children’s hearts pure,” explained Kelly Jo. “
Kelly Jo also said communication is key.
“We try to make it a point to spend a lot of time talking to our kids, knowing them, knowing the things they like and the people they’re friends with,” she added.
They also closely monitor their children’s Internet usage and make their home a “safe place.”
“We have passwords and accountability so no one is ever on the Internet alone.”
Finally, the Bates set dating guidelines for their kids to help prevent the temptations that come along with starting a relationship.
“Our first goal for [dating] would be first, the Lord is first in the relationship. Second, to make sure purity is a priority,” Kelly Jo said. “We ask that there be a chaperone and we say save the first kiss for marriage because we know that kissing can lead you down to do more than you want to do.”
Gil and Kelly Jo said they grew up in a household that was very different from the one they raised their children in.
“We grew up real different than we raised our children because we saw some of the things that were pitfalls or painful experiences that came by focusing on the wrong things so we try to implement these rules to keep kids away from that,” Gil explained.
How will the Bates family uphold their rules and values now that they are debuting their own reality show?
“We all met and the family prayed and we wanted everyone to feel 100 percent on board,” Kelly Jo said of their decision. “We all felt like the purpose of encouraging other families and showing them in spite of challenges that the Lord can put you through don't give up and focus on the important things in life is worth it.”
Like the Duggars, the Bates know that not everyone will agree with their strong Christian values, but they look forward to sharing their lifestyle with families across the country.
“We realize there's a lot of diversity not everyone’s going to feel the same way that we do,” Gil said. “But we have one thing in common: Everyone wants to be loved and feel loved.”
“Bringing Up Bates” premieres Jan.1 on UP!
Faith & Fame is a regular column exploring how a strong belief system helps some performers navigate the pitfalls of the entertainment industry.
Follow Sasha Bogursky on Twitter @SashaFB.