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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.



Why You Shouldn’t Be In A Hurry To Stop A Toddler’s Tantrum

Parenting in the toddler zone means you are most assuredly going to deal with tantrums.  This can be one of the most frustrating parenting challenges.  But, tantrums are normal and can be very valuable for your toddler.

Surviving The Toddler Years

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Learning how to cope with disappointment at a young age will help our kids develop skills they can use with the broken heart the first time their boyfriend/girlfriend dumps them, if their first college choice says no, or when their first boss has to reprimand them.

It hurts to see your little one cry and be sad, but it will hurt more when they turn to drugs, cutting, gluttony, premarital sex, alcohol or any other unhealthy vice to cope with disappointment when they are older.


One beautiful late summer evening turned into a toddler-tantrum night around the Dingler house. Our three year old was in rare form, and not in a pleasant “how cute” kind of way. Oh no, you see we have a premium model toddler, complete with all the extra bells and whistles.

It was a really nice evening outside, and my wife wanted to take a few pictures of the kids. As I was helping our daughter with her shoes, my wife carried our son and her camera out the front door. Which apparently, to a three year old, is the bat-signal for “THE WORLD IS ENDING, BEGIN HYSTERIA NOW”.

Our duaghter thought for sure her mommy wasn’t going to take her picture….a diva issue for another post.

When our daughter got outside to my wife, our daughter screamed at her mom for leaving without her. Not, yelled or talked loudly because she was crying.  And not a scream of joy for being reunited with that which she thought she had lost. Oh no. She outright screamed AT her mother.

My wife calmly yet immediately brought her back into the house. I sat inside with our 3 year old as my wife and son stayed outside and took some great pictures.

And WOW, did our daughter cry and cry. She was really upset. She kept repeating over and over, “I want mommy to take my picture!”

While holding her I calmly and simply repeated over and over, “I know you want to get your picture taken, but you don’t scream at people. When you aren’t nice you don’t deserve what you want.” Not a reply she liked hearing.

Sure, we could have bribed or redirected her attention to get her to calm down so she was “happy”. But, like God is with us…her happiness isn’t at the top of my priority list. I’m concerned about her character more than her happiness or comfort. I’m willing to let her wrestle with a consequence now, so she lives in a way to avoid them later.

I didn’t enjoy watching her sob and cry and be upset. In fact, I hated seeing my little girl like that. But, I’d rather see her a wreck at 3 over not getting her picture taken than a drunk at 15 because her friends at school don’t like her. I’d rather see her spitting mad at me at 3 because I won’t let her have the exact sippy-cup at night she wants when I’ve already given her a different one. (That happened a few nights ago) Hey, in life you don’t always get the sippy-cup you want. (Click to Tweet that, it will really mess with your Twitter friends heads,)


It’s Okay To Let Them Be Upset


  1. Let your little one be upset from time to time. A tantrum isn’t just a toddler’s way of trying to get what they want. It’s how they communicate their frustration because they lack the ability and vocabulary to express themselves calmly. An 8 year having a tantrum, that is more likely manipulative behavior to try to get their way. They learned at 3 and 4, tantrums equal getting what I want. If you have to take a toy from your one year because you want them to eat. Guess what, they are going to launch screaming murderous vocal darts at you. DON’T GIVE THE TOY BACK. It’s okay for them to scream a minute. They don’t know that the next minute of their life will indeed arrive. And, for that matter, they don’t realize it will most likely have s spoon full of yummy dinner.
  2. Don’t punish them during the tantrum.  Firmly, yet with compassion and grace, let them know they are okay, “it will be okay”, and that you love them.  Go brain dead and just keep repeating to them; “We can talk about this as soon as you are as calm as I am.”  It’s okay if they are still crying…there ain’t no problem with tears….however, they can learn to be calm, have tears and still use their words.  It just takes lots of practice.  Some kids need to have time alone to calm down.  Others, need you to stay right there with them.  You’ll have to decide which works best with your kid.
  3. Keep your feelings out of it. Did it hurt my feelings last night to see our daughter so upset? Yes. Would I have felt better making her feel better right away and then going outside and taking pictures? Yes. But making my kids happy isn’t my parenting desire. Raising them to make wise decisions based on the understanding of cause and effect so they have happy lives is my desire.


  • Have a conversation with your spouse about how you as a family are going to handle tantrums.
  • Encourage parents of toddlers. Ask to babysit so that mom and dad can have a date night.
  • Get instant access here to six resources to help you survive the Toddler Zone. (Hint: 3 of them are free)  (The resource is called: Proactive Parenting: Surviving The Toddler Zone Resources)



Questions: What has helped you most in parenting through the toddler zone? What’s the best advice you’ve heard for dealing with tantrums? What is your top tip to new parents or parents about to enter “the toddler zone”?

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10 Tips To Keep The Kids From Wrecking Your Marriage

One day our kids will move out of our homes…at least that’s the plan, right?

Protect Your Marriage From Your Kids

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The day after our kids move out, will we look at our spouse and wonder who this stranger is in our home?

According to a white paper, The Grey Divorce Revolution, from research done at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, the diverse rate for couples over the age of 50 doubled from 1990 to 2010. 1 in 4 married couples are now getting divorced after the age of 50.

For many couples, the focus and, dare I say…”distraction“…of raising kids keeps them from dealing with the little issues that come up in any relationship. So, by the time the kids leave the house…mom and dad are strangers to one another.

People change over time. Couples who don’t change with each other, change apart from each other. Tweet That

Proactive parenting leads to meaningful marriages that last. By being proactive in your parenting as a couple you are being proactive in your marriage. Growing a family that last takes work and intentional effort. In other words, great families happen by design.


Don’t Let An Empty Nest Become A Nest With Unrest



  1. Don’t focus on the kids more than the marriage. Parenting shouldn’t be looked at as something you only do for a season and when it’s over then you’ll have time to work on your marriage. You might hate this statement, but my wife comes before my kids.
  2. Focus on goals in raising kids verses desires. Anger is the result of blocked goals. Set smart goals to avoid being angry. Check out this previous blog post about Goals Vs Desires.
  3. Have a parenting meeting with your spouse on a regular basis. Marissa and I are just starting this. We have coffee one morning every week before the kids are up. During this time we are intentional to talk only about our kids and our parenting only.
  4. Be on the same page with every parenting decision. And, I mean every single decision…probably not in detail…but in theory. Let me explain real quick. My wife, Marissa, doesn’t consult me about what to give the kids for lunch or dinner. However, we have still agreed on the type of food our kids will eat. We’ve talked about and agreed on what they won’t eat, how much they should eat, when we introduce new foods, etc. We’ve agreed to never use food as a punishment. We’ve agreed to never cook separate food for dinner for the kids while we eat something “healthy” just because they would prefer processed food. We work to agree on the theory behind our parenting decisions so we are making decisions in the absence of each other that is consistent. We do this for the sake of our kids, and so we don’t get into fights over conflicting decisions.
  5. Date your spouse.
  6. Do lots of things together as a family.
  7. Help your kids say no to every opportunity to experience something new. We have to be careful that we don’t raise our children to be experience rich yet relationally pour.
  8. Vacation with and without the kids.
  9. Send the kids to a week of summer camp at the same time and do something special as a couple during that week.
  10. Do something together every evening after the kids go to bed. Pray, watch a TV show, do a devotional, play a board or video game, etc. Just do something together.


  • Schedule a date night.  If you want some help making this happen; check out my free eBook about dating your spouse.
  • Start having a weekly parenting conversation. You can download a Proactive Parenting Conversation Agenda Here
  • Identify a married couple that are empty-nesters and their marriage is still thriving. Ask them to mentor you and your spouse. Get together once a month with them and talk about parenting and marriage.
  • Plan something fun to do together as a family in the next two weeks.



Question: How do you and your spouse keep your relationship a priority? What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from another couple further along in life than you are?  Give a shout out to a couple that has mentored you and you appreciate.

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7 Ideas To Fail-Proof Your Marriage

Marriage’s fail.

A Happy Married Couple

Image courtesy of photostock at

And, the less intentional a couple is at working on their marriage, the more likely it is their marriage will fail.

Imagine two people decide to start a carpentry business, they:read books,

  • take some classes,
  • talk with other carpenters,
  • buy all the tools,
  • get a nice new fancy truck,
  • get a logo and business cards,
  • have a website designed and
  • get their business licence.

Now, let’s say they just sit in their truck and drive around. They never give an estimate, take a job and they never build a thing. They have all the right stuff;

  • knowledge,
  • the tools and equipment,
  • a strong desire and
  • even the label.

But, they don’t have a fail-proof carpentry business. In fact, it’s easy to see their carpentry endeavor will actually fail quickly.

It’s true for marriage.

Imagine two people decide to get married, they:

  • read books,
  • take a pre-marriage class,
  • talk with other married couples,
  • buy the rings and register for the all the stuff,
  • get a nice new fancy apartment,
  • get invitations,
  • have a beautiful wedding and
  • get their marriage license.

Now, let’s say they just settle into daily life. They stop dating, take each other for granted, stop saying please and thank you and slowly stop having fun together regularly. They have all the right stuff;

  • knowledge,
  • the tools and equipment (aka rings, marriage license, etc),
  • a strong desire and
  • even the label.

But, they don’t have a fail-proof marriage. In fact, it’s much harder to see but, their marriage endeavor will actually fail slowly and painfully.


Fun Marriages Don’t’ Fail


  1. When each spouse is fully submitted to making the other person better…that’s fail-proofing marriage.
  2. When each spouse is fully submitted to using integrity to make the other person happy…that’s fail-proofing marriage.
  3. When each spouse is fully submitted to making the other person more confident…that’s fail-proofing marriage.
  4. When each spouse is fully submitted to the character of their marriage over the comfort of their marriage…that’s fail-proofing marriage
  5. When each spouse is fully submitted to learning new things about their spouse regularly…that’s fail-proofing marriage
  6. When each spouse is fully submitted to having fun regularly with their spouse…that’s fail-proofing marriage
  7. When each spouse is fully submitted to the other…that’s fail-proofing marriage
  8. BONUS Idea (and, the lynchpin) When each spouse is fully submitted to God and having a Christ-centered marriage…that’s fail-proofing marriage.
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Schedule a date with your spouse.
  • Start a “New Thing List”. Resolve for one week to never let the sun go down on a day until you can record one new thing you learned about your spouse that day. If it worked for you, do it for one month. Then, 3 months, 6 months and up to a year. But hey, start with one week.
  • Brag about your spouse to someone else today.
  • Brag about your spouse to a stranger today. (use your Facebook status if you need to)


Questions: What do you think it takes to fail-proof a marriage?  Go ahead, brag about your spouse in the comments today.  

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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Want To Keep Your Kids From Getting Involved With The Wrong Crowd?

Recently I was speaking with a  subscriber to this blog and was inspired to write this post.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The McAfoose family is a family on a mission.

In the last year, they’ve raised over $100,000 to buy, repair, license and open an orphanage in the Philippines. Why? Because they believe God wants them to. And now, their children are seeing their parents trust and serve a God of the impossible. And, they aren’t done.

While spending time with them at a recent fundraiser for the Jesus Love Me Orphanage, the wife and mom of the family shared with me about two new adventures she is planning with her five children for the summer.

Her and her daughters are planning to have a spa and meal time for women in poverty.

Her sons have identified and asked a handful of widows if they could mow their yards and do other chores for them once a week during the summer.

The love for others of this family keeps coming to my mind. So, I thought I’d create a list of ideas that I can one day use with my own kids. So, in addition to the spa and mowing ideas, here’s more.  Maybe you and your kids can use some of them now.

When kids are in a home that is being bold for God, they won’t be drawn to the “wrong” crowd.  They’ll have all the adventure they want and need right at home.


A Family That Serves Together….Serves Together
Tweet That


  1. First, pray that God would reveal his desire and will for you in this matter. If any of these ideas speak to you, awesome. If not, alter one and share what you think of.
  2. Identify and invite a single parent family over for dinner once a week.
  3. Sponsor a child through Compassion International. As a family, write letters to and pray about the child you sponsor once per week.
  4. If you have a skill such as automotive mechanic, baking, electrical, plumbing, data entry….ask God to bring someone into your life you can mentor and apprentice for free. Imagine, you are your kid teaching a young parent a skill they can turn around and use to get a job to provide for their family.
  5. Volunteer together as a family at church.
  6. Ask your kids school if they could use some volunteers over the summer to paint classrooms, clean desks, etc.
  7. Set up a lemonaid stand and give the proceeds to a charity.
  8. Plant and work a large garden. Donate the veggies to a food pantry. Teach canning and preserving for free and let them keep the canned goods.
  9. Ask your kids what they want to do. What are they passionate about? What bothers them the most that they want to make an effect on?


  • Plan a family dinner to talk about the topic of serving together as a family.
  • Make a list of ideas and ask your kids to vote on their favorite.
  • Check out more about the McAfoose Family and how you can support the Jesus Loves Me Children’s Orphanage when you purchase one of our shirts.




Question: What idea would you add?  What volunteer work have you done alongside your kids? 

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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