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Creating Family Core Values (Why and How)

Just like an organizations or companies core values, having core values as a family has several benefits.  But how do you write a set of family core values?  And, once you do have your core values for your family; what do you do with them?

My wife, Marissa and I decided to write a set of core values for our family.  We knew that the benefits would include at least:

  1. Providing us a tool to be on the same page in parenting decisions.
  2. Help us establish a more clear picture of where we want our family to head for the future.
  3. Help each of us make parenting decisions the other would make when we can’t talk a decision over.
  4. Give our kids the road map.
  5. Set our kids up with an easy to remember filtering system to have in making decisions as they get older.

So we set out to create the Dingler Family Core Values.

Family Core Values

The Dingler Family Core Values

The Process We Used


We talk about the core values for several weeks. Each of us spent time thinking and praying about what we should include.  We read other blogs posts, listened to some specific podcasts (okay, so that might have been just me) and talk with friends.

We made plans for a babysitter to watch the kids during and after a speaking engagement at the Parenting Expo in Pittsburgh early in 2014.

After we got off stage, we went to one of our favorite restaurants; Smokey Bones.

We got a table in the back corner and got to talking and writing.

After a few hours we settled on 7 core values.

We left and gave the core values a couple weeks to marinate.

One afternoon on a long drive, we decided to keep the 7 we had.  We wanted some easy way to remember them.  As we talked about several options, I realized that our last name happens to have 7 letters.  Once we started to assign each core value to one of the letters of our last name; we were shocked how fast and easy it happened.  (Almost freaky easy between you and me.)

Marissa found a store on Etsy and had our core values turned into the wall hanging you see pictured here.

Advice For You To Create Your Family Core Values


  • Give it time.
  • Pray about it.
  • Give it time.
  • Pray about it.
  • Talk about it.
  • Give it time.

How To Keep These From Just Being Art


Our next challenge is to make sure these don’t simply become wall art.  We strategically hung our core values beside our kitchen table.  We do (and will always) eat dinner together as a family.  Having these right there will guide our conversations as our kids get older and we speak truth into their decisions.

Starting next week I’m going to focus on one core value per week.  I plan to study each of our core values one at a time, one week at a time, forever.  I will look for different supporting Bible passages. (I will assigned each core value a color highlight and I’m highlighting corresponding scriptures in the appropriate color or two or three etc)  Is this a commitment of time.  Yes.  But, it’s just one small way I’ll ensure I’m being the Leader for my family that God has called me to be.

Finally, we have to talk to our kids about these core values all the time.  Marissa and I realize that our kids are going to roll their eyes every time we quote one of these core values. And I’m okay with that.  Because when the darkness comes, they’ll be equipped with the light of truth to scare away the monsters in the world.

Care To Share


What about you?  What’s the first core value you plan to recommend to your spouse for your family?


If you have any questions email me directly.



For A Better Marriage Don’t Believe The 50/50 Myth

I don’t know about you, but I hear a lot of people say that Marriage is 50/50, each person has to give and take and it’s all about compromise.

Image courtesy of tungphoto at

Image courtesy of tungphoto at

The problem is, I hear this from people with failed marriages. From a generation getting marriage wrong.

Marriage isn’t 50/50.

Marriage is:

  • Complete submission.
  • Hard work.
  • Something you do, not a label of what you are.

Recently I heard, “Marriage is 90/10”. WOW, this isn’t right either. I mean, why hold back anything. We are called in scripture to fully submit to one another. The Bible says we become One Flesh. Therefore, I say to you that marriage is 100/100.

There shouldn’t be any give and take in marriage.  There should be give and receive.  (Please, click here to tweet that)

When I got married to my beautiful wife, Marissa. I gave 100% of myself to her and our relationship. And she did the same to me and to us. Do I have dreams of my own? Sure, when they include her.


Is Your Spouse Worth Any Sacrifice?


  • Each spouse needs permission to say, “I think you NEED or SHOULD be here or there.” when it comes down to deciding between a work function and a family function.
  • If you work for a company that won’t put your family first, find a new career…or make one for yourself.
  • Pray for your spouse’s wants as much or more than you pray for your own.
  • Study and date your spouse.
  • Keep a time budget for one week. Record the time you spend focused on work, spouse, kids, family, friends, and yourself. How does your spouse measure up? Are you really sacrificing for them?
  • With your spouse, create a weekly/daily time budget. How much time does everything in your life get.


  • Ask your spouse how you are doing.
  • Read the book Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley.
  • Schedule a time to work on a time budget with your spouse.




Questions: How do you keep your marriage 100/100?  What’ fraction do you give your marriage?

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The Best Time To Teach Your Kids The Most Important Life Lessons

Have you heard the myth “Kids don’t come with instruction manuals.”?

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Image courtesy of digitalart at

There are two dangers in believing this myth:

  1. The responsibility to be a “parent” can seem overwhelming.
  2. Many parents give raising their kids successfully over to chance.

Don’t believe this myth.

I actually have two instruction manuals for my kids.

Parenting without a plan is the fastest way to raise your kids without equipping them to have the best life they can.

If you’re a parent, you need to know about this one instruction manual we’ve all been given. In it, it says, “Teach this stuff to your kids. Talk about it with them before going to bed and as soon as you get up, while going about your day and while resting.

The author is telling us that every moment is a teaching moment with our kids.

There are at least two reasons this is true:

  1. We don’t have forever and a day to teach our kids what they need to know
  2. We are teaching most when we ain’t meaning to be teaching at all.  In other words, more is caught than is taught.

The first instruction manual I’m talking about is the Bible.  For this post, I’m specifically talking about Deuteronomy 6:7.

Make Your Parenting Count; 5,6,7; is one of the parenting workshops I facilitate. The 5 comes from Deuteronomy being the 5th book of the Bible, the 6th chapter at the 7th verse tells us; “Teach this stuff to your kids….all the time” (I‘m paraphrasing of course) The main point, more is caught than is taught.


Be a 5, 6, 7 Parent


  • Read Deuteronomy chapter 5 and Deuteronomy 6:4 for a list of the most important lessons we are to teach our children.  Then, read Chapter 6 verse 7 to see when we are to teach our kids these most important lessons. 
  • Explore and grasp the total concept of more is caught than is taught. For example; how you treat people teaches your kids more about how they are to treat people than how you tell them to treat people. (You might have to read that again, I had to type twice to get it right.)
  • If your married, you and your spouse must be on the same page. If you’ve never talked about this, plan a night away just the two of you, to talk about this. You need a plan of action for your parenting. (I’m blushing, but sure…you can click to tweet that)
  • Follow the 10 commandments…even the ones about not lying and not wanting what isn’t yours.
  • Get connected to a strong healthy church.
  • Begin writing letters to your kids in the future. (These by the way have become my second instruction manual for my kids.)
  • Be involved and be focused in the lives of your kids. Not more then you are in your relationship with God or your spouse. Like it or not, in the healthiest families, kids come third. (Actually they come first by making them third…I call this the Parenting Equation, it’s some crazy math)
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Identify what you need to do in your relationship with God and make that priority.
  • Right now, write your kids a letter for this date next year. Make them a promise of something you want to model better. Maybe it’s telling the truth, being nicer to strangers, not gossiping, etc. Work to make the change you just promised your kid.
  • Read Deuteronomy 5 and 6 (this will take you five minutes)



Add your thoughts to the comments or on my Facebook Page

  • What do you think about the idea of making your kids first by putting them third?
  • What tip or suggestion works for you to practice more is caught than is taught?

Write a Letter to Your Spouse For a Growing Relationship Logo Logo

The idea and action steps I’m sharing in today’s post to build a more meaningful marriage can be applied to Valentines Day, your Anniversary or any other date you want.  I did Valentines Day 2014.


Give thought to your relationship, write a letter to your spouse with a promise, send it to them in the future and then work to deliver on that promise.


  • Think before you write.
  • I even spend some time in prayer first. I ask God to highlight areas of our relationship I need to work on
  • Include some details about current decisions you are facing together, it’s interesting to see how things work out in the future.
  • Avoid making promises you can’t keep.
  • Avoid mentioning outcomes you can’t influence or control. For example. I wouldn’t say “Well,. I’m sure by now you got that promotion you have been hoping for.” What if something happened and they didn’t get it? Sure, you want to be all Mr. or Mrs. Positive and Supportive…but you don’t want to sting them unintentionally.
  • Include one or two promises or goals. These can be anything. “By the time you read this, I’ll have painted all three bedrooms.” “I hope we play a board game one night a week for an entire year after the kids go to bed.” “I hope and pray that every time I tell you that I love you, you can reply with…’I Know.’.”
  • Make a copy of the letter and develop an action plan with smaller goals if necessary to hit the big goal or promise in the letter.
  • Schedule on your calendar once per week to read it. This ensures you remember to work on your promise.
  • If using email, use a personal email, not a work email. If you don’t trust they’ll still be using the same email address by then….write the letter by hand, make a copy for yourself, seal it in envelope and file it away. Since you will be reading the letter every week…you won’t forget to give it to them.
  • ?? What suggestions do you have ??

I’m recommending you use the website:  You can create a free account, verify your email address and then send an email to your spouse’s address in the future without them knowing.  Or, you can create the email and send it without an account.  Your spouse will get an email asking them to verify their email address.  They will not see the text of the email.  You will have to tell them you are up to this.  They might love the anticipation and fact you have thought ahead.  (Guys, you might really want to consider this option).


  1. Write a letter to your spouse in Evernote, Word, Textedit, etc.
  2. Go to
  3. Copy and paste the letter into the body of the email.
  4. Schedule the email and send it.
  5. Develop and implement your action plan to regularly review your letter and deliver on your promise..

What variations or other suggestions and tips would you make??

Other Post About Writing Letters for the Future


6 Letters Worth Writing Your Kids to Focus Your Parenting


I’m writing letters to my kids.  Letters they won’t read for many years to come.  It’s how I’m discovering and learning how and what to parent my kids.

Writing Letters To Your Kids

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti at

Most first-time experiences don’t spontaneously happen.  You prepare for them.

The first time you:

  • Drive yourself alone in a car.
  • Sleep in a new house you’ve built.
  • Eat breakfast as a married couple.

These, like most first moments took intentional planning to get to.

I know I’ve got more first experiences yet to come.

The first time I:

  • Attend the wedding of one my children.
  • Celebrate one of them getting a job.
  • Let them drive somewhere alone.
  • Have one of my kids tell me they have accepted Christ as their personal savior.

Now is the time to by intentional to get my kids to these first experiences so they are prepared for them.

I’m using Dr. Steven Covey’s idea out of his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; of “starting with the end in mind”.

For me and my kids, I’m writing them letters for future dates and events.

Some of these letters may never get read.

I’ve already shared in a previous post about a letter I wrote to my daughter when she was 29 months old for her wedding day.


Write it today, live it tomorrow, seal it into their future forever.


1.  Some letters I’m already working on:

  • For their first day of their first job.
  • Their first day in high school.
  • When they get their drivers license.
  • Their first date.
  • Their birthdays starting at age eight.

2. I’m writing these letters because:

  • Because, lets be honest, I might not be alive when that first moment arrives for them.
  • I want to know now what I should be teaching my kids to prepare them.
  • I don’t want to arrive at a first moment and have regrets that I didn’t prepare my kids for it.

3. My goal is that every time they read one of the letters:

  • It’s a reminder of what my wife and I have already taught them.
  • It spotlights the way my wife and I have been living our life.
  • The letter helps them connect lessons we are teaching now to outcomes that will happen tomorrow.

4. Each letter is:

  • Handwritten.
  • Includes fun facts about the time I’m writing the letter.
  • How their mom is doing and what she’s up to.
  • Any major decisions we are considering as a family.
  • I tell them the character traits I hope they have learned up to the point they are reading the letter.
  • I tell them about how I hope they are doing.
  • I tell them what I think is the single most important piece of advice for them.

5. After I write the letter:

  • I scan it into Evernote.
  • Seal the original in an envelope
  • Label the outside of the envelope
  • Put it in our fireproof safe.
  • I then reread the scanned copy in my Evernote every so often to remember my promises and parenting goals.


  • It’s never to late to start.  Even if you don’t have kids yet.
  • If you are a grandparent…write letters to your grandkids. Start with the end in mind.
  • Email me and request a free copy of my eBook; Write Your Life.  It includes similar content for your marriage and workplace leadership as well.


  • Do you have any experience with letters to your kids?  Letters from a parent?  
  • What first experiences or future dates would you write a letter for?

If you are another blogger and have a post related to this that others might find helpful, please feel free to share a link in the comments.

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My 2 Year Old Daughter’s Wedding


My 2 year old daughter's wedding

Courtesy of @creativex

I had a strange start to my day. I cried while thinking about the “upcoming” wedding of my daughter.

I used quotes around upcoming, because my daughter is only 2 years old. But like it or not, I can’t stop today from becoming tomorrow’s yesterday.

It all started after I read a post on All Pro Dad about 10 year goals for families. I chuckled at the idea at first. 10 year goals, we just want our daughter to get potty training down. Using silverware would be a nice added bonus. 10 year goals…what an absurd idea.

But as I thought about the idea more. My thinking shifted.

10 years isn’t all that long. I mean, our daughter was born last tuesday and today she’s already 27 months old. Before long, she will be potty trained, then what? Counting? ABC’s? Whistling? Geometry? Driving? Dating? Graduation? Then the big W came to mind. A Wedding?  Holy cow!  A Wedding.  And just like that, my daughter was getting married.

Here is the scariest thought of all!

All of my behaviors are adding up to the man she’ll be looking for. I suddenly realized in that moment, the awesome responsibility I have in living my life for our two kids to see.


More Is Caught Than Is Taught
Tweet That


Questions you should answer….

  • How am I treating my kids?
  • How am I treating their mom/dad?
  • How am I treating others?
  • How am I modeling love?
  • How am I handling our money?
  • How am I handing my relationship with God?
  • How am I handling my work/responsibilities?
  • How am I handling pressure and stress?

I decided to write the next letter to my daughter. I like writing to my kids in the future. I tell them about what’s going on currently in our family life. Major decisions I’m in the middle of making. What I hope to have taught them by the time they read the letters. All sorts of things.

Tonight I’m starting a letter to my daughter for her to read on her wedding day. I want to tell her what I want her to know about marriage. I want to tell her what I hope her husband is like and how he will treat her. I want her to know she’ll still be my little girl that would run and wrap her little 2 year old arms around my legs when I would walk in the door from work. I want her to finish reading the letter and say, “But dad, you’ve already taught me all of this.”

Tonight I write the promise letter to my daughter for her marriage. Tomorrow, I continue my best to model and teach her the lessons she’ll need for every promise in my letter to be true.


  • Write a letter to your kids in the future.
  • Share this post with your spouse.


Questions: What future are you working on for your kids? Do you write letters to your kids? What other traditions along these lines do you have?

If you are another blogger and have a post related to this that others might find helpful, please feel free to share a link in the comments.

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