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“Success is seeing your children grow up to be respectful young adults” with Mark Chauppetta

Success is seeing your children grow up to be respectful young adults. Good parenting really is blood, sweat and tears, but seeing them become the persons you hoped makes it all worth it. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Chauppetta, father of four and former MMA fighter. Chauppetta isn’t your average suburban father of four. […]


Success is seeing your children grow up to be respectful young adults. Good parenting really is blood, sweat and tears, but seeing them become the persons you hoped makes it all worth it.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Chauppetta, father of four and former MMA fighter. Chauppetta isn’t your average suburban father of four. Mark is a 50-year-old father of four children, husband, respected licensed private eye, and executive director of the Wheelchair Strong Foundation. He is in the midst of raising his four children, two of which live with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

Wow I would say my childhood was amazing. I was adopted at six weeks old as were my two older sisters Mary and Susan. My parents William and Elizabeth were amazing kind people who raised us in the small “Mayberry” type town of Whitman, MA. We were all raised to know we were special because we were adopted and that being so was always a positive. We were encouraged as we got older to search for our biological family if we desired, which we all did.

I searched for my biological parents at 22 years old. I was the curious type and a rookie PI so I made the legal inquires and located my biological mother. It was a surreal experience and very fulfilling. I was able to answer many questions about myself especially when I leaned that she was an accomplished artist.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

After high school I attended community college as a criminal justice major and worked part time as a line cook. After my second year of college at 19 years old I took the correctional officer’s exam on a whim and was accepted into the academy. My father was thrilled because it was a state job with amazing benefits. My Dad was old-fashioned and benefits and job security were more important than my happiness or dreams.

After two years of working in a roach infested, 100+ year-old prison I said screw it and quit to pursue a dream of being an actor. It all started in 1993 when I was asked by a friend to appear in a local modeling pageant that a Hollywood casting agent would be attending. I agreed to go and the rest in history. I packed my bags and headed to La La land.

I loved Los Angeles, but like many starving actors I was struggling to land gigs so I took a job serving wheat grass on Santa Monica Blvd. Shortly thereafter, I answered an want ad and took a job as an apprentice PI while continuing to appear for auditions for Beverly Hills 90210.

One thing led to another and after a few years struggling to be an actor, I realized that I was pretty good at investigations and I enjoyed the work, so I pivoted away from Los Angeles, came back home and opened up my own Detective agency.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

My schedule is crazy but manageable. Being self-employed has allowed me the ability to juggle all my activities successfully. I find time for the many hats in my life I wear as a Dad, a husband, a PI, and executive director of a nonprofit.

I am also an early riser and start my day off with a jujitsu class or weights and cardio at the gym. I am type A high energy and typically don’t require much sleep. My workday typically starts at 4:30 am and ends around 9:00 pm.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

I can’t imagine not spending time with my four children. Family comes first and always has. I build time with my kids into my schedule to ensure that it happens. I even manage one-on-one time wherever possible.

I was divorced at a young age when I only had three children (I now have four) and the thought of not seeing my kids daily affected me the most. But I quickly realized that I was only getting divorced from wife and not my kids. I then vowed not to be an every-other-weekend Dad. I also had the fortunate opportunity to build a house about 300 yards down the street from my children so that gave them an amazing sense of security. I also was involved in everything and would not accept anything less. Dentists appointments, teacher conferences, hairs cuts and more.

I think this made a big difference in my children’s life especially during the development years. It was not easy learning to do my daughter pig tales but I figured it out.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

Children are impressionable and need a strong influence early on in their lives. Role Models make a difference. My kids are like any other: they need guidance in order to make sense of an increasingly complex world.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

I think quality is certainly more important than quantity, but if you can have both that’s even better.

Be active and be involved. If you have the time volunteer with their activities or organized sports.

My oldest Elizabeth is my only female who surrounded by boys so it was especially important to focus solely on her at times. I would do what all good dads do and play dress up, play with dolls, put makeup on whatever it took. I took Elizabeth to her first concert (Kelly Clarkson ) and would be at every dance recital even if they were torturous

My situation was also different because Elizabeth’s Twins brothers Troy and Andrew now were born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy a terminal muscle disease. This made things hard and challenging often with lots of attention on out them with many doctors’ appointments, so I felt that it was important to make her have many special moments.

Max my youngest is now 13 who came along ten years later.Elizabeth, Troy and Andrew love having a younger brother and for myself, Max is a great “bookend,” since he is my clone and we share many common interests.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

1. Find the time and don’t make excuses. Kids know when you’re disingenuous.

2. Be completely emotionally present when you are with your children. That may mean put the phone down and or make them put the phones down.

3. Never make promises that you can’t keep.

4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable to your children and show emotion.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

What makes a good parent? Quality time makes a good parent. Many parents think taking them shopping or on a trip is the key but often it’s just sitting down and playing a game of Uno at the kitchen table or learning to play their favorite video game.

It is also listening and caring and interacting. Ask questions about their day and their friends and their feelings and then responding in a way that respects their honesty. That being said, it is important to be a parent and not a friend. Be fair but firm. Don’t be afraid to discipline your child and explain why you are.

Finally, it is important to teach them. There are myriad opportunities to teach your kid important life skills

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I try to lead by example and show my kids that hard work pays off. I also try to show them that it’s good to take an occasional risk. As for examples:

My daughter is a strong minded, hard-working young lady. Her twin brothers may be in wheelchairs, but they own a business and drive an adaptive van. My youngest made the decision on his own to quit his sports team in favor of acting classes and learning to play piano.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success is seeing your children grow up to be respectful young adults. Good parenting really is blood, sweat and tears, but seeing them become the persons you hoped makes it all worth it.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

The best resource I have is pretty basic: it’s all that I learned from my parents. They may not have made much sense when I was a kid, but their guidance plays a central role in my present life. I lost both my parents in my twenties, but from the day they adopted me to the day they died I was learning from them.

Can you please give us your favorite” Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Fair but firm” I learned this in correctional academy and it has become a useful rule for dealing with my family.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be small-but-powerful: I would like to reengineer how we thing about “Ability” and what it means to us as a society. I believe that we all have a deep reserve of ability, but most of us lack the strength and confidence to take risks and challenge themselves. My twin sons might be disabled in the eyes of the medical community, but we never use the word “disability” in our home … it’s all about ability.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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