My Story

Why Chalkboard Parenting?

Spending consistent quality one-on-one time with my kids changed my life. It has also changed theirs and that of our family. I would go as far as saying; it will change our family tree.

Chalkboard Parenting is dedicated to encouraging and equipping you to experience the same in your own family, with your own child and for you personally.

I am extremely passionate about two things, spending one-on-one time with my children and as equally passionate about helping you do the same.

You are an amazing mom or dad! More so than you could ever imagine. I simply want to be a tool in your tool belt.  My desire is to build your trust over time in allowing me to play a small part in your family. My desire is to do whatever it is I can to help you along the way.

175 Dates and Counting

At the time of this writing, I have had over 175 (official) dates with my kids or about 600 hours of one-on-one time with them over the last eight years.

I cannot imagine our family life without that time.

It is so difficult to find the time to do it month after month with a full schedule but the harder it is on our schedule; the more important it is to have the dates. We simply make it a priority for our calendar each month.

Over the years we have developed routines, history, traditions, pictures, custom chalkboards as well as an understanding of what each child enjoys and doesn’t.

We look for creativity and sometimes plan months in advance. We have come a long way in building this family dynamic but it wasn’t always that way.

I wish I had known then what I know now. That is the very purpose of Chalkboard Parenting. I want to share my wisdom and equip and encourage you in your journey no matter where you are in parenting. Whether pregnant with your first child or have one getting ready for college, it is never too late to invest time in them. I want to help you in any way I can.

How it Started

In December of 2009, we were a small family of three. My wife Betsy and I had been married nine years and we had a recently turned four-year-old son, Eli. That month we found out we were going to have another child and I was so excited. I had always wanted a big family and was glad ours was growing.

At the same time, it dawned on me that my relationship with Eli was going to be greatly impacted. I had longed to be a parent for so long that when I finally became a dad; it was incredibly meaningful to me. I loved being Eli’s dad. I was committed to doing whatever I could to ensure that he and I would have a great relationship and to make sure we always had one.

Even though I was excited about having a second child, I was concerned this could potentially hurt the relationship I had with Eli. A few days later the idea came to me to begin having monthly dates with Eli. I knew it could go a long way in our developing relationship. January was a great time to get started.

On a cold a rainy night, January 13th, 2010, Eli and I went to dinner at Chick-Fil-A, got a smoothie after and visited a used bookstore. It was as simple as you could get, but we had a great time!

The most important thing we did that night was making the decision that we would do it again the next month.  That simple decision would go on to change our family forever.

When I look back at the time since that first date with Eli, I have learned a lot. Some of it has just simply been from the dates themselves with the kids. Some have been from the hundreds of hours of research I have poured into the subject.

I want to share as much of that wisdom with you as possible.

Here are some of the things I have learned.

  • I have a list of almost 1,000 different ways for parents to spend time with their kids. I have been working on this since 2012 and love the research and creativity that goes into it.
  • The impact of having consistent one-on-one time with your children is incredible. I see that time weave in and our of every facet of our relationships. It is amazing.
  • The dates are fun and create memories, but they provide a ton of ways to intentionally parent your child. There are so many ways to experience this and I’ll walk you through them.

Let me share with you a little about us and then I’ll tell you what specifically you can expect from Chalkboard Parenting…

Meet My Family

BETSY – She loves our kids and I love her for it. When I think about her style of parenting, I think of warmth and being a child with them. I love that she has never let go of that inner child in herself. I love how involved in their lives she is including their education as we use a co-op method of school. Before being a mom, she was a social worker with the elderly. She loves a good movie, Pinterest, spending time with her girlfriends and (as I) always ready for a road trip!
ELI – He made me a dad. Currently taking us into the middle school years. He is analytical and passionate. When he falls in love with something, he really falls in love with something. His two most passionate interests are all things baseball, and Harry Potter (previously, Thomas the Train). He is our reader as well and loves information. He is so much like me that he is incredibly inquisitive and genuinely interested in your story. It was my deep love for him as a four-year-old that started our dating journey.
TRUETT – I know the middle child is one of great importance. I don’t take that lightly. He is oh so incredibly tough and competitive and yet, he probably has the biggest heart of us all. He’s the kid that is good at any sport he plays and the child that picks flowers for his mom on every single walk. He and I have had many a conversation on dates and many tears shed because he couldn’t buy gifts for his siblings. His current love – Ninja Warriors and always soccer. He also sets the bar for picky eating kids around the globe.
MIA – After two boys, I was more lost than most dads when it came to having a girl. They. Are. So. Different. She takes care of the boys, much at times to their dismay. For the countless discussions we have had with the boys – “please pick up…” “Can you help with…” – she needs none of that. It is ingrained in her to help and take care of others. She loves music, animals, broccoli, and eggs with hot sauce. She happens to also be adopted from China. People that tell us “she’s so lucky to have us” don’t understand that is we that are so blessed to have her. She is and always has been just as much my child as the boys. If you would like to know more about adoption, please reach out to me, I would love to talk about it.

ME – Outside of spending time with my kids, here are a few things about me…

  1. I love to plan out road trips, ours or anyone else, the more details the better.
  2. Some days running is tolerated, some days loved but always a big part of who I am.
  3. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a cowboy. I would pretend my bicycle was my horse. I’d still love to be a cowboy or at least live on a ranch.
  4. Making coffee is an art to me.
  5. I love to read. Currently – Harry Potter Series (something Eli asked me to do and I love it)
  6. Pie is my favorite dessert and I love small towns.
  7. I love all things Texas and hope to live there one day.
  8. Movies are one of my favorite past times but I don’t have a favorite.
  9. Missions and serving orphans is a huge part of my life.
  10. A hobby could easily be sitting at a coffee shop just asking people the story of their lives. I am very inquisitive and I genuinely care about the story of others.

The Secret Sauce

I wish I had known back then what I know now. That is simply why I created this site and the research behind it. Parenting is the greatest joy I have ever experienced. If I have a secret sauce to making it even better, how could I not share it with the world?

If I had the privilege of having coffee with you, I would share my story and what I’ve learned. I would listen to you and encourage you as a mom or dad. Until we can have that coffee, I dedicate this site to doing just that. I want to listen to you and help in any way I can. I’ll try my best. I promise.

What to Expect From CBP!

Here is what I hope for Chalkboard Parenting and some of the things I want you to expect from it now and in the future.

  • Lots of date ideas with amazing resources for each. I love spending time with my kids but I also love research. Once or twice a week, I will provide you with a new way to spend time with your child. Each date will have teachable moments, variations, cost, what makes that date special, active links for resources custom to that date and more.
  • Personal stories. I will share personal stories of my own dates with pictures, things I learned on that date and how it can help you.
  • Stories from my kids. Eli is now almost 12 and he can bring perspective on all this from a child’s eyes. What do the dates mean to him? Do they help or is it just more for the parent? What’s he struggling with? You will get real insight from not only my eyes but his and from my other children as well as they grow.
  • Encouragement & Resources. I know you are busy. Me too. We all have things in life that keep our calendars full. Some things are required and some are desired. I know you have passions and hobbies that you love to spend time one. This one is mine. Let me provide you with as many parenting tools and resources as I can so that you can spend time with your child and do other things you love.
  • Consistency. My goal is to offer you good content consistently. If you don’t worry about having to check back here often, simply subscribe to my email list so that I can deliver encouragement and resources to your email. Please know that I take my personal email account seriously and I do yours as well. What you will not get is sales pitches and sharing of your email with anyone. What you will get by signing up is encouragement, support, tools, and resources delivered consistently.


What Others Say

I had the opportunity this spring to hear Darin share his heart for parents setting time aside to spend one-on-one time with their children though dates. I truly believe as hard as it is to set aside time in our busy schedules, it is so important. We will ever regret the investment, and we will be forever grateful for the memories. In my own family, it has proven to be life giving! I love that Darin not only shares his story and his encouragement but he gives so many practical and affordable ideas for families! ~ Ashleigh
We are called to love our children and disciple them. Sometimes we have to step back and wonder how to do this with our busy lives. By following his God-given passion for this exact question, Darin has made it easy for you! Read this book, glean from all the wonderful ideas and put them into practice, you won’t regret the time you spend pouring into your children’s souls! ~ Mandy
The book Chalkboard Dates encourages us to spend quality time with our children in fun and creative ways. The ideas are a great mix of variety from simple dates with not much preparation to more in-depth ones. Chalkboard Dates gets you excited about dating your kids and take the stress off planning what to do. ~ Julie
Chalkboard Parenting is a great resource for our family. It helps us keep fun at the center of the time we spend with our kids. The pre-planned ideas make it simple to date our kids. ~ Josh