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As newlyweds, Caroline and I thought we knew everything about parenting.

Oh yes, we were parenting experts.

We had read all the books, listened to all the tape sets and marked out in other families how "NOT" to parent.

We were dead serious about this parenting business and we were ready to show the world what raising children is supposed to look like.

Except we didn't have any children.

Which meant we had almost zero experience.

Which meant we didn't have a clue.

Our first child came and we were convinced he couldn't have landed in a better home.

After all, we were experts.

We knew exactly how to mold him into an obedient, God-fearing young man.

The truth? We had more to learn than he did. 



We embarked on our journey as if we'd already earned our PhD in parenting. In reality, we were entering our first semester at the School of Hard Knocks.


But you have to give it to us; we went all out. 

If a book said we should begin to train our son to come to us at 6 months, we did that.

If a parenting "expert" said we should have our son trained to sit still and quietly in church by 18 months, we did that.

If a video seminar said we should set strict bed times and expect our son to adhere to them at a very young age, we did that too. There was only one teensy-weensy problem:

Our little son was having none of it.

He almost never came to us upon demand.

He was probably the last child in his age group to finally learn to sit still in church (this was terribly embarrassing to his mother and I at the time).

And he fell asleep on his schedule, not ours.

The "parenting doctors" weren't helping matters.

Their advise? Double-down.

So we doubled-down and got the same results, only they were twice as painful. 

Something had to change. 


Lesson#1: We discovered that, as parents, we were never really intended to be "in charge".


By the time our son was 3, we were utterly exasperated. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was going according to plan. 

We had the best intentions in the world coupled with (we thought) the teaching of the best parenting minds in the world. And what did we have to show for it?

Shame from watching other parents who were employing the same methods with their children; but they were knocking it out of the park (or so it seemed).

Guilt around every corner. Guilt for sticking to "the plan"; guilt for not sticking to it close enough.

And worst of all, a precious son who, far from becoming more submissive to us as his parents, was only growing in his anger and frustration. 

We were done.

Done with the parenting doctors and all their arbitrary child development markers.

Done with attempting to force our son into submission.

Done with the notion that he was prewired to subvert our authority.

Done with trying to "win his heart."

I'll never forget sitting in our driveway one day after work. T

Through tears of sorrow and regret, a subtle but seismic shift took place in my understanding of what kind of father I was supposed to be ...

...I wasn't in charge – I was responsible.  

Years passed and more children came. We worked at undoing the effects our misguided methods had on our firstborn while welcoming a second, a third and then a fourth child into our home.


We were happy, but when we threw those old misguided methods out, one needful thing went with them:


We had days where it seemed like all we did was yell.


On those days our child-training could be summed up in 3 simple, yet strident, words: "DON'T DO THAT!"

At the end of those days we'd fall into bed and feel like we were literally the worst parents in the world. Our minds became an echo chamber of all the empty threats we'd issued throughout the day.

"I'm going to count to 3!"

"This is your last chance!"

And my personal favorite – "How many times do I have to tell you?!"

When my little daughter of 6 told me without a moment's hesitation, "About 5 times," I knew something needed to change.



Lesson #2: Our time with our children is too short to allow the space between their birth and their graduation to be characterized by chaos.


Much like before the arrival of our first child, we were ready to get serious about this parenting business.

Except this time, we viewed ourselves as stewards and not masters.

This time we wanted to inspire obedience in our children and not scare them into it by issuing idle threats.

We wanted to reward them in a sincere and memorable way when they tried their best to live up to the standards we set in our home.

In short, we wanted to make the most of the short time we knew we had with them and to do that...

...we needed a tool.

We needed a tool that would help us be more consistent as parents AND encourage our children to build habits of good character. So we made one.


We looked and looked for something that could help us achieve the goals listed in the previous section but couldn't find anything that really fit the bill.

But instead of giving up and going back to business as usual, we sat down and designed something ourselves.

At first it was just a series of paper charts and some cute laminated badges with a safety pin hot-glued on the back.

But you know what? As soon as we hung up those charts something wonderful happened –

Our children began begging us to find extra chores they could do around the house in order to earn checks on their chart! 

We thought we'd entered some strange alternate reality!

Our children! Were begging us! To give them more chores!

We knew we were onto something; and if it could help us be better parents why couldn't it help others?

And so, Character Badges was born.




Character Badges is committed to helping parents be more consistent, creative and deliberate as they train up their children in the way they should go. 


While many things have changed about Character Badges from the time we hung those first paper charts 7 years ago, this commitment has always remained the same.

Everything about Character Badges has been poured over by parents who use it almost EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Why? Because we know you love your children and if you're going to use a tool to help you be a better parent we know you want it to be the best it can possibly be.

Raising children is like planting a garden and there are two ways you can do that.

You could plant a garden by just using your bare hands or... could use some tools; and that's all Character Badges is.

It's a collection of tools to help you do the three most important things you should be doing as a parent – instructing, rewarding, and correcting your child.




Are you ready for child training that's more fun, flexible and effective than you ever thought possible?


Look – we can't fix our shortcomings as parents or make our children's character flaws magically disappear just by buying something.

It doesn't work like that.

Parenting is hard work. Like, super hard work.

But you probably already knew that; otherwise you wouldn't be here.

Maybe, like us, you've tried some things (or a lot of things) that you've heard from the parenting experts and all you've been left with is a lot of frustration.

Maybe you feel like all you do is put out little fires and you never get around to praising or spending meaningful time with your children.

Maybe you've yelled at and threatened them so many times that they just roll their eyes or act like you haven't said anything at all.

Maybe you've stared down the barrel of the future and realized that in a few short years your children won't be children anymore.

The time is now.

The good news? The solutions to all these problems can all be found in you.

That's right, no purchase necessary.

No one is better equipped to instruct, reward and correct your child than you are.

The problem is, we're not always consistent in doing these things. Why?

Because, again, it's really hard work.

That's where Character Badges can help.

If you're ready to get serious about becoming the parent that your child needs you to become;

If you're looking for something to help you inspire your child to be more kind, helpful, diligent, respectful, (even tidy!); 

If you'd like to take the drudgery out of character-training and turn it into something that neither you nor your child will soon forget...

Then you're ready for Character Badges.

How about a parenting pick-me-up?


Start by reading a few encouraging posts on the adventures, joys and challenges of raising children.

Are you ready for Character Badges?


Here are a few of our most popular items.

Character Badges Base Set

Fun, flexible effective child training – $49.99

Character Badges Additional Child Set

Extra children. Extra fun. – $26.99

Character Flash Cards

A handy tool to introduce, and inspire, good character in your child. – $6.99

A little about us...

Sean and Caroline are proud parents of 6 (soon to be 7!) rambunctious children.

Huge Apple geeks (everything they make is just, well, so PRETTY!)

Sean is a graphic artist who works almost exclusively on his Mac (what else?) but would much rather be using a pencil and a piece of paper.

Caroline is a popular blogger over at

Both have the same favorite movie – Sense and Sensibility. Which one? The 1995 version, of course!