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deliberate parenting at it’s finest

by Shawni

Once upon a time there were some parents who wanted to be very deliberate. So they came up with several whiz-bang systems to whip their nine kids into shape. Those parents were my mom and dad.  They did lots of stuff, including taking us up to the mountains to camp for a month and learn about hard work (here) to dressing up as “characters” to put us to bed to keep our imaginations up to par.  And they did their darnedest to teach us a thing or two about money. I talked about our money system back here.

Here’s a paragraph from that post: “I remember pretty vividly the day my Dad introduced the new “system.”  He sat us down on our big brown patchwork sectional (the vintage one I wish I had a picture of) and showed us a video he had made… of himself explaining our new money system.

(I think I need to try that method of getting children to listen if I can still remember it all these years later…)

It was monumental, I tell you:  that system my Dad introduced.  I remember loving it, but I remember it was also a tad bit complicated (ok, a LOT complicated!). I went on in that blog post about how Dave and I tweaked the system a little and came up with a system that works for our family (just click here for more info. on that).

Well, during our reunion at Bear Lake this summer my brother surprised us with the very video I remembered made such an impact on me all those years ago.

Boy oh boy we were all about to bust a gut watching that sweet footage. I just have to share it. I know it is long, but honestly, skip to the middle part (maybe around 8:40, or 10:50 is even better, and 16:10) and see if you don’t think it was the most complicated thing you’ve ever heard.

…and if you don’t think that is the cutest Dad there ever was…especially at the end (17:10).

There are two things I realized as we watched in tears of laughter:

1)  Everyone, even my parents who are “super parents” in my eyes, adjust stuff to meet the needs of their own individual family.  My parents were dying at the part around 10:54 and also 15:30 where he talks about taking away points for negative behavior because they’re so into the positive reinforcement.  They obviously adjusted that a lot.  They also adjusted how darn complicated it was because it really did work in their mellowed-down version.  We were all dying over how you could earn or lose a half a point here or there and about many different systems those points were connected to.

2)  I am my Dad.  In so many ways.  For better or for worse.  Dave and I looked at each other both knowingly thinking that same exact thing as we watched. I think I need to follow my Dad’s example and simplify and calm down a little about all my visions and dreams over here that are sometimes driving this family of mine crazy!

Tonight we went swimming for FHE.  I brought out the camera to which Lucy yelled across the pool to me, “Mom, put down the camera, and jump in the pool!” So I did.  And oh man it was great.

Sure, systems and rituals and traditions and recording things are great, but what’s most important is to “Love More” and try to inch more toward the dad in minute 17:10 than the one in 10:50.

Love you Dad!  Thank you forever and ever for the balance you teach through how you live life.  (And HAPPY ANNIVERSARY too!)

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Kristy July 30, 2013 - 2:03 pm

That might have been the cutest thing I've ever seen:) Man it just makes me want to be the best parent ever! It's like you could feel his immense love for each of you. Awesome.

dresselfamily.blogspot.com July 30, 2013 - 3:09 pm

oh my heavens, you are all truly blessed xoxo

Allison July 30, 2013 - 3:33 pm

ok your dad looks fresh off a mission! what an awesome guy. you can tell how much he cares about being a good father and teaching his children….so amazing.

Tyra July 30, 2013 - 3:53 pm

What a cute Dad. You guys were lucky to have him.

Tyra July 30, 2013 - 3:53 pm

*are lucky 😉

Susan R July 30, 2013 - 3:55 pm

oh my word! That was the most complicated thing I've ever heard, but I bet it worked. I loved the end……."I wish I had some dessert". 🙂

Emily July 30, 2013 - 6:01 pm

If that wasn't the cutest thing! I am currently reading through your parents books one by one, and I am in awe of them. What a special family you grew up in!

Mike, Adi & Drew July 30, 2013 - 6:21 pm

Shawni, your family seems so awesome. I don't even remember how I found your blog but I love your advice and just the way you and your husband strive to be the best parents. My kids are young and I was not raised in the church so as new relatively new mom, I'm trying to grab at any advice or example I can come across. Thank you for sharing your experiences…you seem like the best pro!

Your dad's video was precious. How cool to have it as an adult! Before I ask you any questions, I will have to read up on your family's system but I hope you don't mind since we don't know each other.

Thanks again,


Tanya July 30, 2013 - 6:34 pm

I love that you said you are your dad. That's me too. Great dads are the best. 🙂
Also, I love this system!! We've adjusted it for our family too!!

Annegirl July 30, 2013 - 8:36 pm

This both motivates me and gives me hope. Love. 🙂

Sharee July 30, 2013 - 9:27 pm

You guys are simply amazing! I'm laughing with tears, oh my goodness. That has to be the most complicated, loving, classic video EVER. I'm going to book-mark this for a very very long time.

The evident example of peace, balance, and stability is truly inspiring.

Anonymous July 30, 2013 - 9:48 pm

SO fun!

*ehu. July 30, 2013 - 9:55 pm

How cute was that?!?! Oh my gosh, I loved watching your Dad with your brothers! I bet that brought back a lot of fond memories, at your reunion!

Stephanie July 30, 2013 - 11:32 pm

Okay. I adore this. I've seen your parents speak numerous times at Education Week and your dad is just the same back then as he is now. Too hilarious!

PS- I always secretly wish I had grown up with parents as deliberate as yours.

Camile July 31, 2013 - 1:16 am

Oh my gosh!!! So funny and cute! Thanks for sharing!

ppp July 31, 2013 - 2:40 am

That is so amazing. I think I would need an MBA or an accounting license to understand it! Very cool to still have the video, though.

Rachelle July 31, 2013 - 4:07 am

Classic. Loved it!

katie July 31, 2013 - 4:15 am

I loved that so much! Watched every minute 🙂 How ever did your parents do it?! How did they keep up with all there systems! It is amazing. I have 3 girls and can't imagine keeping track of all that at this point. What I really loved was how much your Dad showed his love for you! I hope my children know just how much I love them! And I hope I remember his example of not taking things too seriously! Did they ever yell? Did they ever just loose it? It was just one of those days today and hoping tomorrow will be better. Thanks for this as I put today behind me 🙂

Marie July 31, 2013 - 9:34 am

I loved the end of that! (and the rest also, but mostly the end). How lovely to have those moments of pure joy captured.

Jenn July 31, 2013 - 9:36 pm

oh my word! I LOVED that. When you wrote about the video a long time ago, it inspired me to make one for my own family as a Christmas gift. I can only imagine what that will be like to watch in 30 years! Loved it. And what insight into being a better parent!

Gina July 31, 2013 - 10:56 pm

Loved every second of that video! Your parents (and you "kids") are such an inspiration!

dunlapnomads August 1, 2013 - 5:01 am

What happened at dinner?! He came back all dissheveled and started talking about all the ways to lose points…so funny! 🙂 Very Adorable!

Nikki August 1, 2013 - 11:23 am

I love this!!

Lisa Smith August 1, 2013 - 3:38 pm

Okay…I just have to say how much I loved this! First of all…NOT the video I had imagined when hearing the story of how they shared the family economy the first time with their kids. And second…I love that the kids were around while doing this! Hahahaha And the dinner bell in the background…AWESOME! Thanks for sharing!

Analia and Co. August 1, 2013 - 3:41 pm

That is the sweetest thing ever! Thanks for sharing!

Janan August 1, 2013 - 7:13 pm

You weren't kidding about "complicated" I'm tired just thinking how hard that would be to implement with 4 kids! Cute Dad:) What an awesome find! Home movies are the best:)

Eyrealm August 2, 2013 - 2:19 am

Honesty, I haven't laughed so hard that I literally cried in a long time. Felt good. Totally hilarious! We love this guy (and those little guys too)!

Our Blog August 3, 2013 - 11:56 am

Your dad is adorable.

Corrie August 3, 2013 - 12:53 pm

that is so cute and I had a good laugh so I can't imagine how loud the laughing was when you watched it together!!!!!!

and one of your brothers looks so much like your dad back then too!

what a great present for all of your family to have that


marlowe August 3, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Can't help but love that "life" goes on in the background even in the face of the best intended systems 😉 brothers in and out, faces behind dad, dads need for corrections, dinner bell, Christmas music, phone ringing … Phone left off the hook 😉

Oh shawni, this gives me hope for all those FHE's and family meetings where I wonder if anyone is listening!! Ha!

The Holyoaks March 3, 2014 - 10:30 pm

I love your blog. I discovered this post while researching how to teach our kids some money management. That part at the end of the video made me cry. I married a man who's that same kind of dad to my children. I feel so blessed that we have him in our lives as I'm sure you feel the same way about your dad. Thanks for sharing!

Celeste Pavlik March 8, 2016 - 5:22 pm

That was the cutest video ever. the last 30 secs were my favorite!!!

Little Saturday School March 19, 2016 - 4:02 pm

That was the cutest thing ever! It must have been so hard to stay serious. Thanks for sharing this!

Amy December 18, 2016 - 3:38 am

That video was simaltaneously the funniest and most inspirational thing I've seen in a while (thank you internet). Your dad! He sets the bar high for parents everywhere. Excuse me while I go write a family fight song 😂

Steph Stephanie July 13, 2017 - 8:09 am

they did their darnedest to teach us a thing or two about money.

Marina Kingston July 13, 2017 - 2:01 pm

Your parents did a fine job in your upbringing because those trips would've taught you all plenty. I've been to the http://topparentalcontrol.com/track-text-messages-another-phone/ website and over there, I checked how to make sure your children's phones are always safe and secure.


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