The Power of Faith

Welcome to Quyn’s Empower Newsletter for October!

Beautiful stories to open and strengthen your heart…

Powell River sunset

Personal Update: The Power of Faith

As I am reflecting on some of my personal updates to share with you, I realize I want to write about faith in this newsletter. I want to write about how having faith in God or in a Higher Power as well as having faith in yourself has really helped me to face many challenges that have come up in my life from time to time.

In my previous newsletter, I shared with you about feeling very disappointed that I seemed to not be able to secure an important career opportunity. Yet I was really struggling with continuing with my current position as the Stopping the Violence Counsellor. I asked myself, “Is this what I went to college and university ten years for? Is this what my life is all about?…” After being in my current position for over a year, I realized I have much more to give to the world!

In pondering these questions, I decided to make a very risky step. I gave my employer a one-month notice of resignation. It was a very difficult decision to let go of a permanent full-time job with benefits. It was somewhat my security blanket. Also I live in a small town with a population of sixteen thousand people and is surrounded by ferries on both ends. So I knew that finding a job was not going to be easy. Yet after making the decision, I felt strangely relieved and free. Deep down, I had faith that I wouldn’t be off work for too long. I was reminded of how in my previous job, I had to take a leap of faith and resign from the position first before I got a new job. I was reminded of the saying that we have to let go of the old to make room for the new. I was fortunate that Hans was supportive of my decision. I have seen how many people in this small town desperately hang onto their jobs because of financial and family obligations despite the fact that they are very unhappy in their jobs for years. I am fortunate that I don’t have children to support. So although this decision is not for everyone, it is also not too unmanageable for me.

At some point, I asked myself “Was this a mistake to take this job in the first place?” After all, Hans and I moved here because of my current job. For me, the answer is a resounding “No!” I am very grateful to have found this job. It has allowed Hans and I to change our lifestyle. We wouldn’t have thought of this place if it wasn’t for this job. We love living in Powell River. We appreciate having a home of our own. Almost every day when Hans gets up, he describes to me the beautiful ocean view outside our bedroom window. Every time I lie on my day bed listening to birds singing outside the window and feeling the sunshine on my body, I am reminded of how much I love my life. Every time we go for a walk and I hear the waves of the ocean and smell the fresh ocean air, I am reminded of how wonderful life is. In this job, I have had a chance to work with women with different types of serious issues. This type of work has broadened my skill set tremendously and has given me a different outlook in life. I believe I have had a chance to help many women make positive changes in their lives in this position. Moving here has also allowed us to be able to purchase two properties within six months of living here, something that we wouldn’t be able to do in the lower mainland. So as always, I don’t look at decisions as right or wrong. I don’t see outcomes that are less than satisfactory as failures or mistakes. Rather, every unpleasant experience offers an opportunity for change or teaches me some very important lessons.

About two weeks after my notice of resignation, I received a call from the place that I thought I didn’t get the position earlier. They offered me a job that I applied for and my starting date will be on Dec. 3! This means that I will have about four weeks to relax before I start my new job. I am very excited! I will be starting a new job at Canada’s leading men’s addiction treatment center located right in Powell River. This is a wonderful career opportunity for me! This position will allow me to work with a team of excellent professionals at a workplace that values empowerment, respect and dignity, values which are in line with mine. What’s more, the position offers excellent opportunities for personal and professional growth as well as great benefits, substantial financial security and great vacation time. Although nothing is guaranteed until I actually start the position, I want to allow myself to enjoy this and trust that things will work out.

In my last newsletter, I also wrote about starting my radio talk show, Quyn’s Empowerment Hour. I am very pleased to share with you that it has been going very well. I feel very strongly that this is one of my passions! I have also learned so much about myself and from my guests as I am going through this process. During the first week or two of doing the show, I got many rejections from potential guests I wanted to invite to my show as experts. But again, I had faith in the process, trusting that I will soon be able to find people who are enthusiastic about coming onto my show. At present, I have guests scheduled to appear on my show up to February, 2016. I have been very fortunate to be able to invite therapists, psychologists, authors and individuals with inspiring stories to my show. I feel very honoured that they see the value in my show. These are the topics of the show I have covered so far:

These are some of the topics I will cover in the next few episodes:

  • The Dance of Anger: How Women can Transform Anger and Resentment in Their Important Relationships, with Dr. Harriet Lerner, Psychologist and Author
  • Christine Ha: The Incredible Journey of the Blind MasterChef Winner
  • Men Surviving from Sexual Abuse, with Perto Herrera, a Sexual Abuse Survivor and Don Wright, Founder of B.C. Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse

To listen to previous episodes or to see upcoming guests and topics, please visit
Quyn’s Empowerment Hour

Quyn on phone

Featured Stories

Christine Ha: Blind MasterChef Winner

Recently I interviewed Christine Ha who was the blind MasterChef Winner in 2012. As an only child, she lost her mother at the age of fourteen. It was a huge loss for her, as her mother loved her and pampered her very much. While she was in university she started losing her sight. As if that wasn’t enough, she also was paralyzed on both sides of her body up to her neck for nine months. She felt very helpless as her friends and family members had to feed her and bathe her. For nine months, she had to cope with the fear of the unknown, learn to let go of her pride and allow others to help her, and learn to walk and do things all over again. Although she eventually regained control of her body, she lost most of her sight. While she was competing on MasterChef, she felt very discouraged at times. Yet she always tried to do her best. When asked what kept her going during her darkest time, Christine shared that it was her faith in God and believing that she can handle whatever comes up in her life. She believes that God has sent people to help her whenever she needs help. I felt very humble and inspired listening to her story. I learned a lot from her. To hear more about Christine’s incredible journey in her own words, tune in to Quyn’s Empowerment Hour, Saturday Nov. 14 9PM PT.

Believe in Yourself is the Way to Success- My Story of Transition From Academia, by Ping Xiao

(I dedicate this story to my friend who is one of the readers of this newsletter.)

“Once upon a time, there was an eagle that grew up with a group of chickens. He thought of himself as a chicken too, enjoying a routine life the same as everybody else. His master was very angry when trying various methods to get him to fly, but he couldn’t.

Finally, one day, his master brought him to the top of a mountain and threw him down the cliff. He was surprised, sad, and confused. He thought, “Oh God, my master is going to kill me, I don’t want to die.” While he was struggling, he opened up his wings and, all of the sudden, he felt a strong force that took him up. The more he extended his wings, the more he could rise. Well, he started to fly.

For the first time, he saw lots of different things: blue skies, white clouds, green trees, and gray. He felt freedom. Since then, he could never go back to the same life as a chicken – he could not stop flying.

Have you ever had a similar experience and feeling? Have you ever thought you might be an eagle? Getting thrown over the cliff by someone else may not have been a bad thing? I was.

I was a good student, in the typical Asian definition of “good student,” from the first day I went to school. Life was sweet, life was easy, life was smooth and successful all the time. I got used to school life, got used to listening to my Professor telling me what to do. The feeling of being praised by others felt really good.

I didn’t know what to do without school, but after finishing post-doctoral training, there was no more school. My life seemed to be stuck to an end. I did not really seriously look for a job because I didn’t know the world outside of school.

While I was still dreaming of being a Professor, and staying in school, the school door was shut for me. I was kicked out by my Professor because the research funding was finally gone and the U.S. was facing 9/11 and the wars in Iraq, etc.
It was a black out world for me at that time. I could see nothing and didn’t know which way to go. I knocked on all the doors I could. And, for the first time, I learned how to write a resume. Thank God, I did not waste my time sleeping and crying at home.

I went out to join various scientific conferences, met people, and learned something new. I also volunteered for various activities and enjoyed helping others. I experienced so many different things and explored a much bigger world. I also found many hidden talents that I didn’t know existed, which also surprised me a lot. I could never go back to my old life.

I ended up being an international regulatory professional in the medical device industry , which I had never dreamed or planned, even when I was studying regulatory science at USC. I wasn’t planning to work for industry at all. I have to say in this highly competitive job market, there is always somebody that has skills that are better than yours. So, if a door opens for you, take it, even if it is not what you saw yourself doing. First, you have to put yourself out there and let others choose you and not refuse any opportunities coming towards you.

In conclusion, believing in yourself is the way to success. Self-improvement means self-discovery and self-trust. If you don’t try, you will never know if you can. I hope that everyone does not suffer life as I did, but trust yourself and challenge yourself for new things which can bring you a new life. Although it takes tremendous courage and energy to get out of your comfort zone for something new and unknown, just try and just do it. There is nothing to regret if you put in the effort. Believing in yourself is the key to success.”

If you’d like your story to be featured here anonymously or publicly, or if you know of anyone whose story you want to share with us, get in touch with me.

Words of Wisdom

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. – Saint Augustine

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Questions for Reflection

Are you about to make an important decision and the fear of the unknown has kept you from making it?

During the bad times in your life, have you found it tough to have faith — either faith in God, faith in a Higher Power and/or faith in yourself? If not, is it your self-doubts or your negative thoughts and beliefs that have hindered your faith?

What does it take for you to trust so that you can venture beyond your comfort zone?

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What Is Change?

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

– John C. Maxwell

Change can be very uncomfortable initially, because it requires us to go beyond our comfort zone. We all have an internal psychological thermostat that seeks to keep the temperature inside ourselves the same whenever the weather outside changes. So making changes often means that we have to reprogram our thermostat and tolerate the new uncomfortable temperature inside ourselves. Acknowledging and embracing this discomfort is the first helpful step by reminding ourselves that this discomfort is a natural process of change.

Change means different things to different people. For some people, it could be something as minor is reducing salt intake in their diet. For others, it could be something as powerful as the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. where Martin Luther King Jr. led a Million Man March on Washington D.C.

Change is inconvenient. It means giving up old ways of doing things, or switching off our autopilot mode. It means taking time to learn new ways of doing things, time that many of us don’t think we have.

Change requires patience, hard work and persistence. Sometimes you might even ask yourself “What’s the point?” It took me eleven years of studying after graduating from high school to become a therapist – two years in college, six years doing my B.A. and three years completing my Masters. When I felt discouraged at times, I reminded myself that I really wanted one day to be able to alleviate people’s emotional struggles through psychotherapy.

Change can be slow, incremental and invisible at first, sometimes even over a long period of time. However, eventually it can accelerate and the benefits it reaps can be extremely powerful. It’s almost like planting seeds in the garden. We don’t see the results for months. First, we decide what types of seeds or bulbs we want to plant in our garden. Next, we pick the right spot for those seeds and bulbs, with the right type of soil and light condition. Then we water them and fertilize them. So one step at a time and one day at a time is all it takes.

Change means seeing things from a different perspective. It may mean looking at things as a whole picture or in a big scheme of things. Or it may mean focusing on minor details or small meaningful moments. It’s like changing the focus of the lens of your camera. Sometimes you need to zoom out the lens to see the big picture. Sometimes you need to zoom in to take a close-up picture in order to include small details in the photo. No picture is good or bad, it’s all about perspective and what works for you at this point in your life. Looking at things from a different perspective can alleviate that internal conflict you have within yourself about a decision. Internal conflicts can often bring about lots of anxiety.

Change by nature leads you to redefine your long-held values or beliefs. For example, you may have chosen your current job because career, status, money, etc. used to be very important to you at that point in your life. Now, it may be that family, health and freedom are more important to you. Initially, I really wanted to get a Ph.D. to become a psychologist. While I studied my Masters, I realized that I didn’t want to pursue a Ph.D. for various reasons. I wanted to finish my Masters degree to become a therapist instead. At first it was very hard for me to change my plan, because it seemed as if I was giving up and I didn’t like the idea of giving up. However looking back now, I am so glad I changed my career path.

Change sometimes requires us to take a step backward. This can seem like the opposite of growth. However, often we have to take a step back in order to go forward. For example, sometimes you need to have your car going backward in order to go forward. This is a necessary part of change, as long as you know why you need to first go backward and as long as you don’t let your car keep going backward.

Change means letting go. It means letting go of things like anger, victimization, hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonment, fears and more. It means letting go of old habits and old patterns of behaviours. It means letting go of negative messages we have received from others or told ourselves, messages such as MUSTs, MUST NOTs, OUGHT TOs, SHOULDs, SHOULDN’Ts, HAVE TOs, CAN’Ts, COULDN’Ts, etc. Change means letting go of expectations – the expectations you feel others have of you and those you place on yourself.

Change means looking within ourselves to find the answers rather than seeking for the solutions in other people or in our environment. Change means taking full personal responsibility for our behaviours, choices and circumstances, no matter how hard it is to do so. It is not what life hands us. Rather, it is about how we make the best of what life hands us.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

  • Mahatma Ghandi

Change means confronting our own fears rather than avoiding them or running away from them. During my training with my first guide dog, I was asked by my instructor to approach the edge of the subway platform in New York City. Although I was gripped with fear, as I always had a big fear of stairs or drop-offs, I followed his instructions out of respect and courtesy. When my dog and I were finally standing right at the edge of the track, he told me to give my dog the command “Forward!” I thought he was crazy! I didn’t move. All kinds of thoughts and feelings were going on in my mind. One of the horrifying images was imagining that my dog and I falling down the track as the subway was approaching, crushing our bodies. I thought what if the dog forgets her training? Seeing me not moving, the instructor explained that this was a very important exercise. I needed to be able to trust my dog completely. Putting all of my emotions and logic aside, I cautiously gave the command to my dog “Forward!” Miraculously, I felt the harness in my left hand moving to the left as my dog turned to the left to step away from the track. I felt relieved! At that moment, I truly realized I could trust my dog. I bent down and gave her a huge big hug!

Change means redefining your identity or your purpose. One client I used to work with was previously a doctor who lost his vision in his 40s. This was extremely devastating for him. He had to change his identity from being a doctor and a career-oriented man to being a great husband, father, son and friend. Rather than focusing on the physical side of things, he had to learn to focus more on the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.

Change is a choice. It means appreciating the simple things in life and focusing on small happy moments. A dying patient in the hospital told me how much she looked forward to my dog and I visiting her bedside every day.

Change starts with one person’s vision. Bill Gates had the vision that everyone has a personal computer in their home. Thus, you, and you alone, can make a huge difference in the world!

If you are considering making changes in your life, don’t be afraid. Don’t let your life be dominated by self-doubts and other’s’ expectations and limited by fears and road blocks. Rather, let your life be driven by endless possibilities, growth, hopes, optimism and open doors! And if you have already started to make changes in your life, have faith in yourself, believe in yourself and keep going! Don’t give up, even if others and your doubting Self tell you so!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens. But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

– Helen Keller

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5 Ways You Can Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Mortgage, By Quyn Lê Erichsen, M.Ed, RCC

Do you want to save thousands of dollars on your mortgage by just following a few simple tips? Here are 5 ways you could try out either for your current mortgage or your future mortgage:


1. Change your payment frequency from MONTHLY payment to ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payment. Why? Because you can pay off your mortgage a few years earlier and at the same time, save thousands of dollars.


How does it work? When you make MONTHLY mortgage payments, you pay 12 payments a year. Whereas when you make ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payments, you make 26 payments a year (52 weeks in a year, divided by 2, equals 26). This is equivalent to you making 13MONTHLY payments a year.


Here is an example of how you can save choosing the ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payment option:


Your mortgage is $300,000 with a 30-year amortization and a 2.99% fixed interest rate.


If you choose the MONTHLY option, your interest cost over 30 years is $153,674.86.


However if you choose the ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY option, the cost of your interest will be $132,437.60, saving you $21,239.46. What’s more, if your mortgage has a 30-year amortization, it will take you only 26.4 years to pay off your mortgage. Likewise, if your mortgage has a 25-year amortization, it will take you 22.2 years to pay it off.


Of course, if your mortgage is higher, you will pay higher interest and vice versa.


You can check out yourself how much you can save on your mortgage by going to this mortgage calculator website:


Many of us get paid on a bi-weekly basis. Hence choosing the ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payment option will not affect you in any significant way. All you have to do is call the financial institution where your mortgage is with. Tell them that you want to change your frequency payment to ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payment. Note the word ACCELERATED is crucial here. If you just tell them BI-WEEKLY, they will just average out your payments to 24 payments a year and not 26 payments a year, in which case it is the same as you making MONTHLY payments.


2. Interest rates can make a huge difference, even if the difference seems very small. In September 2014, we bought a house and our mortgage at the time was 2.99% interest rate. Six months later, we bought another house and the interest rate of our mortgage was 2.74%.


Using the last example of a mortgage of $300,000 with 30-year amortization and ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY option, your interest cost will be as follows:


2.99% interest rate: $132,437.60

2.74% interest rate: $120,969.65


You save about $11,468. So don’t give up and shop around for the lowest interest rate possible when you get a mortgage or when it’s time for you to renew your mortgage.


3. Whenever possible, choose a shorter amortization period, as it can save you thousands of dollars. Again, using the previous example, the difference between 25-year amortization versus 30-year amortization can be as much as $22,955, based on the ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payment frequency. Of course, a shorter amortization period will result in higher mortgage payments, which may not be an affordable option for some people. However, the savings in interests can be quite significant so it’s worthwhile to consider. Imagine you purchased a house at age 30, and by the time you are 52, you don’t have any mortgage or rent to pay.


4. Take advantage of the privileges offered to you in your mortgage terms. Such privileges can help you pay off your mortgage as quickly as 10 years or more. For example, you might see something like 10% and 10% and double. This is what they all mean:


10% of the original amount of your mortgage (e.g. 10% of $300,000 equals $30,000). This means that you can make a lump sum payment of $30,000 each year if you so choose. However, this option might not be as feasible for many of us, as it is difficult to come up with this amount. Although we don’t have to pay this full amount, we can certainly pay some, perhaps with our yearly tax return?


10% of your mortgage payment. For example, 10% of your ACCELERATED BI-WEEKLY payment of $700 is only $70. So instead of paying $700 every two weeks, you can pay $770 every two weeks. Again, using the same example, you can save as much as $14,000 by paying 10% more on each of your mortgage payment.


Double your payment. This is another privilege where you can double each of your payment.


With TD Canada Trust for example, you can take advantage of all the privileges spelled out in your mortgage terms simultaneously. So taking advantage of one privilege does not disqualify you for using the other options within the same year.


5. Shop for the lowest interest rate when it’s time to renew your mortgage. Many of us automatically renew our mortgage with the same institution over and over again without bothering to shop around for the lowest interest rate. This is primarily done for the sake of convenience, as it can be very daunting and time-consuming to apply for a mortgage with another bank. Many people find it’s very helpful to get a mortgage broker to help them apply for mortgages. Such mortgage brokers can apply to different banks for you based on your information. Some mortgage brokers are also able to get preferred low interest rate from banks due to the high volume of their clientele. As discussed earlier about how small differences in interest rates can mean thousands of dollars in savings, particularly if you have a large mortgage, your work and persistence will pay off in the long run.


The bottom line: Be persistent and pay attention to the numbers, as they can mean tens of thousands of dollars in savings for you. When in doubt, ask questions. I didn’t know much about mortgages until last year, as it was my first mortgage ever. Remember 1 dollar you save on your mortgage means you, instead of the bank, are 1 dollar richer!


Good luck with your mortgage!

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Courage in Relationships with Yourself and Your Loved Ones, by Quyn Lê Erichsen, M.Ed., RCC

How do you show courage in your relationships with yourself, your mate and your children?

What are some other ways you want to show courage from this moment on?


“I learn that courage was not the absent of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela


1. The courage to love and allow yourself to be loved by your mate and your children despite your fears of rejection, abandonment and betrayal.

2. The courage to trust yourself, your mate and your children.

3. The courage to need your loved ones and let yourself be needed.

4. The courage to give and receive, and to help and let others help you.

5. The courage to accept yourself and others with love and compassion.

6. The courage to forgive yourself and others for your mistakes and theirs.

7. The courage to listen to your feelings and others’ non-judgmentally.

8. The courage to be vulnerable by expressing your needs and sharing your feelings with your mate and your children in an authentic and non-blaming way.

9. The courage to follow your heart and be true to yourself as well as let others be true to themselves.

10. The courage to ask yourself important questions and engage in open dialogues with your mate and your children.

11. The courage to respect opinions, beliefs and values of yours and others’.

12. The courage to recognize your own limits and say “No” at times.

13. The courage to let your children grow by making their own choices and mistakes.

14. The courage to say to yourself and your loved ones “I love you.”

15. The courage to admit you are wrong and say “I am sorry.”.

16. The courage to face and overcome challenges and not avoiding or denying them.

17. The courage to take initiative to make important changes yourself.

18. The courage to leave a very abusive mate and start over again.

19. The courage to begin a new chapter after a breakup, a divorce or the death of a mate.

20. The courage to trust and love again.


As you read this list, what have you learned about yourself? Which of these ways you have found relatively easier to show Courage, and which of these are not very easy for you? Personally, some of these ways of showing Courage are natural for me. Yet, many of these ways are very difficult for me and I find that I am learning all the time.

Lastly, do you have the Courage to show this list to your mate and have an open conversation about Courage with him? Share with him what ways Courage has meant to you and what ways you still struggle with. Gently invite your mate to complete this list himself and share with you his own journey of Courage.

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Quality Time with Your Children: A Foundational Love Language By Quyn Lê Erichsen, M.Ed., RCC

Quality Time is undoubtedly the most important Love Language for children. Even if a child’s primary Love Language is not Quality Time, it is still extremely important, as it makes a child feel special, important and loved.

One form of Quality Time is Quality Activities, which are those during which you give your child undivided attention. Quality Activities might include going to a movie together, reading bedtime stories, playing a ball game, teaching a child to cook or showing a child how to do something. It is not the activities themselves that are important, it is your full attention that communicates love to your children.

Some parents feel very sad that their teenage children no longer want to spend time with them as they used to. Yet, this is a natural part of adolescence. When teenagers engage in other activities away from you, it gives them the opportunity to assert for their independence and to learn more about themselves in order to develop their self-identity.

Although spending time away from you is a natural and healthy part of growing up, it is also important for your children to maintain good connections with you. Make it very pleasant for your children to be around you. When they are with you, they get to receive your undivided attention, do activities that they really enjoy, and hear words of love, praise and encouragement. Soon they would be excited to spend time with you!

Those of you who have more than one child, make sure to spend Quality Time with each child, even if only for a short time. This can be very challenging for many of you, as lack of time is a common struggle for many parents. Yet, the Quality Time you spend with each child starting when they are young may prevent years of heartache to come.

Here are a few tips that may help you:

Let the activity be about the child, and not about the activity itself. It is the togetherness in spirit that is important. Many people nowadays are often busy texting and checking emails or Facebook while they are around their children. One child was deeply disappointed because during her piano recital, her mom stepped out of the room to talk on the phone. This child had practiced her piano piece for weeks before and really wanted her mom to see her performance.

Involve your children in the planning process. If you plan a trip out of town, ask your children, “What do you want to do on the trip?” Or if your son doesn’t want to join you on the trip, ask him “ “What would make the trip interesting to you?”

Take note of your child’s interests and plan activities accordingly. My teenage sister loves food. So every now and then, I take her out to eat so we have a chance to spend lots of Quality Time together. While doing those activities, talk to your child to get to know him. Ask him, “What do you think of…?” “How do you feel about…?”

Here is an example of how my husband learned about Quality Time with his son. This is his story in his own words:

“When my son, Nick, was in grade two, he had a very hard time reading. I read to him at home every night. But when I tried to help teach him to read it was not working out like I hoped. I became very frustrated that Nick could not do it the way I wanted him to. I would read, point and get loud and try to bully him into doing it my way….doing it right! All this did was isolate him and make him feel terrible. He cried, lashed out at me, and I made our “Quality Time” some of the worst times of his childhood.

As with many other kids, our family doctor wanted to put him on Ritalin. But I wanted to be sure. After several weeks of testing, it was determined that he was quite dyslexic and needed special help to read. We were blessed to find a tutor who specialized in Nick’s type of learning disability. Soon, he began to blossom as his confidence grew. Our relationship also improved greatly, as he saw I was on his side now. I was giving him the type of Quality Time he needed and not forcing my way on him. Nick struggled to finish high school. However, he knew that whenever he grew frustrated and sought advice, I would focus first on his needs and well being. We had some tough conversations and a few more tears. But the lessons I learned in grade two paid off in ways that I am still grateful for today.”

Another form of Quality Time is Presence. Those times when you attend your child’s soccer games, recitals, birthday parties, high school graduation ceremony or the like, are all memorable for your children. Many of us are bombarded with professional and personal demands, and it is easy to miss these activities. Yet, not making time for these important moments in your children’s lives can be very disappointing to many of them and affect them years to come. One man sadly recalled, “I didn’t feel loved by my dad because he was always too busy to come to any of my football games.”

The third form of Quality Time is Quality Conversations. These are some ways to help you talk to your children more effectively:

Have a family meal together at least once a week, if not every day, during which TV, phones or laptops are off. All family members are encouraged to share three things that happened to them, and how they felt about those things.

Teach your children about etiquette, such as saying Thank You and Please and treating everyone as you want to be treated. Equally important, model these behaviours, as your children see you every day.

For very young children, be patient in answering their endless “Why” questions. It can be frustrating to be bombarded with these inquiries. Some parents might be tempted to yell at their children, “Stop asking so many questions! Go play and let daddy finish this!”

Rather than asking closed questions like “Do you like your classes this year?”, ask open questions like “How do you like your new classes this year?”. Closed questions do not encourage conversations with children because you can only ask so many of them. Open questions encourages your children, especially teenagers, to think for themselves as adults. It also fosters their intellectual growth and stimulates their brain development.

Listen, listen and listen some more. As adults, we are often quick to give advice, offer solutions and tell kids our perspective on things. However if you listen first, then your children will be receptive to your ideas and perspectives more heartily. Questions that you can ask your children to encourage their problem-solving skills: “What do you want to do about this?” “What will happen if you do that?” “What are some other ways to approach this situation?”

When your adolescents challenge your rules and question your beliefs, you may perceive them as being argumentative and react to their questions defensively. However, view these times as opportunities to teach them about assertiveness. Ask them, “What is your opinion on that?” Children who accept everything their parents say without any questions may later on be easily influenced by peer pressure or by controlling partners/spouses. It is not criticizing, yelling, shaming, arguing, instilling fear, control or aggression that can change people’s behaviours and attitudes permanently. Rather, It is love, compassion, acceptance, appreciation, awareness and gentle guidance that have the capacity to transform people’s attitudes and behaviours in profound and lasting ways.

It is very important for parents to share their opinions with their children and to offer guidance, however, the manner in which you do so can make a huge difference. In sharing your perspective, you could say, “I see why you think that way. However, I believe that…”

Use your non-authoritarian, calm, gentle or positive tone of voice to talk to your children. Doing so can activate the emotional engagement parts in their brains and can make it much easier for them to listen to your words. When you use a harsh tone of voice, cutting remarks or physical force, you inadvertently activate the fight-flight-freeze response in your children’s central nervous system.

Use stories and examples to offer guidance, especially your own stories and struggles. Hearing your stories makes it real for your children and easier for them to relate to you. It also reminds them that you are human too. You don’t have to share details that you are not comfortable with.

Living in the refugee camp during my teenage years, we frequently witnessed many men mistreating women — beating, sexualizing and verbally degrading them. My mom would talk to us about these things, helping us understand that those behaviours were absolutely unacceptable and must not be the norm in our lives. She let us know that we as women deserve respect from everyone, including men, and should never settle for less. Later on in my love life, I’ve learned to expect respectful treatment and accept nothing less from any man, including my husband.

In summary, Quality Time is a foundational Love Language to express love to your children and to fill their emotional love tank. Make time to do meaningful activities with your children, be present during important moments in their lives and engage in open dialogues with them. Your children will definitely feel very special, important and loved.

When your children are young, you have much control over how much time you spend with them. Make the best of those times! When your children grow older, they control how much time they want to spend with you. Make the best of those times too! We get what we give in life. The Quality Time you spend with your children, and the love you communicate that they can feel during those bonding moments can leave an imprint of love in your children’s hearts forever!

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Filling Your Children’s Emotional Love Tank by Quyn Lê Erichsen, M.Ed., RCC

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there is an emotional love tank inside everyone of us, including children. When our Emotional love tank is full, that means we feel loved by significant people in our lives. Likewise, when children’s emotional love tank is full…


• They feel connected to important people in their lives.

• They feel accepted for who they are.

• They feel nurtured and cared for by their significant others.

• They feel happy, contented, confident, free, relaxed, calm, secure and safe.

• They are more willing to try out new experiences.

• They are more engaged in social interactions.

• They are more resilient when facing very difficult times.

• They are confident in making decisions.

• They work towards their goals and are not afraid to make mistakes or fail.

• They follow their passions and fulfill their dreams.

• The possibilities are endless!


What happens when children’s emotional love tank is empty or becoming empty?


When children’s emotional love tank is empty or on its way to being empty, we may see some or most of the following signs in their lives:


• They kick, scream or throw temper tantrums.

• They tune their parents out and don’t listen to them.

• They withdraw or are very reluctant to set goals or make decisions.

• They avoid spending time with their parents.

• They fight with their siblings and are very jealous of them.

• They lie, steal or hide things from their parents.

• They are more affected by peer pressure and may even join gangs.

• They use substances like alcohol and drugs.

• They engage in sexual promiscuity or become pregnant early.

• They run away from home.

• They drop out of school.


Again, the possibilities are endless. Children whose emotional love tank is empty may seek love in all the wrong places.


Acknowledging these possibilities in children may bring about much fear, panic and anxiety within you as parents. Yet, fears and panic don’t help you to become effective in your connections with your children. Rather, they take up space in your parenting, act as road blocks in your relationships with your children and create distance between you and them. Fears and panic cloud your judgment and paralyze your children’s motivation. They prevent you from seeing with clarity a full picture of your children – their uniqueness, special characteristics, strengths, talents, potentials and dreams. More importantly, fears and panic can be in the way of mutual love between you and your children.


Here, I plead to your heart, fear no more! Don’t let your parenting and your relationship with your children be driven by fears. Rather, let your parenting and your relationship be propelled and flourished by love!


“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (Corinthians 13:13)


Faith: Have faith in your children. Trust that behind all those annoying, frustrating or even nasty behaviours, there is a very special child who yearns to feel loved. Underneath all those angry, moody, unpredictable and even violent personas, there is a vulnerable child who needs to be loved and to feel loved. Trust that your children can make their own decisions, even if they have to make mistakes in their choices. Trust that with your love and guidance, they have the capacity to find their own paths somehow, albeit challenging and seemingly impossible at times.


Hope: Your faith in your children represents hope for them. Where there is hope, there is life. When your children are feeling hopeless about their circumstances, your faith in your children helps to instill hope in them. Hope can help children seek open doors and find new opportunities. Hope can help your children realize that setbacks are mere temporary defeats and not permanent failures.


Love: Your love for your children can transform your relationships with them and your perceptions of their challenging behaviours. When your children can feel your love, they can effectively cope with many challenges in life and live fuller and more authentic lives.


Although almost all parents love their children dearly, few children do feel very loved. Many children’s emotional love tanks become empty on a regular basis because they don’t understand the love languages communicated by their parents.


In my previous post, I wrote about two Love Languages out of the Five Love Languages as proposed by Dr. Gary Chapman. I hope you don’t look at these posts on Five Love Languages as another “how-to manual” about how to love. Rather, I invite you to look at these love languages as a road map to a very important lifetime journey – a journey of love. As a road map, these five love languages can help you navigate the ever challenging journey of love with your children. This road map does not intend to give you the specifics to solve all problems in parent-child relationships, as human relationships are very complex. Rather, this road map gives you an idea of how to build a foundation of love with your children. What you make of it is up to you – your faith, your hope, your love and how frequently you practice these love languages.

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The Five Love Languages: Enhancing Your Relationships with Your Children by Quyn Lê Erichsen, M.Ed., RCC

Do you want to enhance your connections with your children?

As parents, do you want to be more effective in communicating with your children?

If so, then read on…

Do you find that even though you really care about and love your  children, they  don’t seem to understand your love? Whatever you say, your words are being tuned out or ignored. Your  children talk back at you, scream or yell at you, or even run to their room and slam the door.

If these are some of the scenarios that describe the relationship with your  children, then learning to speak and understand five love languages specific to children can be a very powerful tool for you. Have you ever wondered what might be your  child’s primary love language? In other words, what is the most important love language that your  child really understands?

How does it help us to learn about love languages? Let me share with you a personal experience. When I first came to Canada as a teenager, I spoke and understood very limited English. I remember often I felt very confused, frustrated and stupid. Some people even thought I was cognitively challenged because a lot of the time I didn’t seem to have a clue what people were saying to me. Many of them probably perceived me as passive, incompetent and not very intelligent. It may have been very difficult for them to imagine that I would become a therapist and a public speaker one day.

So if you learn to speak and understand the love languages that children do, you have much stronger connections with them. You would be very effective and would exert very positive influence in their lives.

In my work as a therapist and based on my personal experiences, what I have observed over the years is this: many parents truly love their children. However, few children do feel loved by their parents. Many children unfortunately don’t feel loved by their parents. They don’t feel important to their parents.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five primary love languages. Furthermore, these five love languages need to be expressed differently to children. The five love languages are:

1. Words of affirmation

2. Gifts

3. Act of service

4. Quality time

5. Physical touch

1. Words of affirmation. This includes telling your children that you love them and sharing with them how much you care for them. In some families, being verbally affectionate may not be the norm. Remember, whenever you learn to speak a new language, it’s always awkward and difficult initially. And the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

Don’t assume that your children already know that you love them, and think you don’t need to tell them on a regular basis. Even if they do know, verbally expressing your love serves as a constant reminder of how much you love them and care about them. Frequent reassurance gives them a sense of security. Furthermore, your love also helps them get through challenging times in their lives, such as when their friends don’t accept them, or when their teachers criticize their work, or when others criticize their appearance.

Words of affirmation can also be in the form of using encouraging words to acknowledge children’s hard work or accomplishments. This doesn’t mean praising everything that they do. Rather, really take note of the things that they do well, or have put a lot of effort into. Examples of affirmations might include:

“I believe in you.”

“I am very proud of your…” or “I am very proud that you…”

“I know you can do it!”

“I really appreciate…

“Thank you for cleaning your room.” or “Thank you for looking after your sister.”

“I notice how hard you have been practicing the piano.”

“The eggs you fried today were awesome!”

“I notice you’ve really tried hard to do well in your soccer practices.”

“I notice you have been working very hard to improve your grades this year.”

Whatever you say, mean it.

If you find it difficult coming up with something positive to say, ask yourself, “what are some of the good things I appreciate about this child?” Sometimes children frustrate us so much that it’s hard to come up with something positive to say. However, doesn’t matter how frustrating their behaviours have been, we can always find some good points about children, even if those points seem very minor and far between.

Words of encouragement and love are very important. Such words can draw out the goodness in a person. Equally important, avoid criticisms and condemnation, as it is so easy to do so. As loving and encouraging words can draw out the best in people, criticisms and condemnation can draw out the worst in them. Negativity can also stop people from making positive changes.

In some cultures, the common belief is that complimenting children too much will cause them to become arrogant or slack off and consequently not put in their best effort. However, all of us, especially children and teenagers, thrive with words of love, encouragement and appreciation.

When you can truly appreciate children for who they are and what they do, as well as expressing your appreciation, then you will have a very positive and strong influence on your children’s lives. They will be much more receptive to your words of guidance and constructive feedback.

2. Gifts. Many parents’ primary love language is giving gifts to their children. I have often observed that this is especially common among immigrants, as it is the love language that these parents can understand easily. These parents frequently have to work hard to make ends meet and so they believe they don’t have time to spend with their children. These parents may have also been raised in families where hearing their parents telling them that they love them and are proud of them wasn’t the norm. So these parents don’t express their love and pride to their children. They assume their children know they love them by how hard they work and how many things they buy for them.

Unfortunately, receiving lots of gifts from parents doesn’t always make children feel loved and important. Even those children who seem very excited to get expensive gifts or exciting toys, such excitement and joy often don’t last more than a few days or a few weeks. Remember, love in the forms of materials last as long as the lifetime of those objects. However, love in the forms of words and quality time can stay with and influence people for a lifetime, and even across generations.

This doesn’t mean that gifts are not important at all! Pay attention to your children and find out what kind of gift is really meaningful to them? Let them earn those gifts themselves. In other words, let your gift giving be purposeful and meaningful. Don’t just give your children what you think they need or what they think they need. Let them show you in their words and actions why those particular gifts are meaningful or important to them. Let me share with you an example…

Last year, my sixteen-year-old sister told me excitedly that she really wanted to go on a trip to Europe that was organized by her school. However she didn’t believe she would be able to afford the trip, as it would cost around $4000 plus some spending money. I asked her why she wanted to go on this trip. Although all of us in our family believed that such a trip would be a wonderful learning experience for my sister, I still wanted to know how meaningful this trip would be to her and that it was her own idea and not anyone else’s. I then said to my sister: “Do the best you can to come up with the money, such as saving the money you earn from your work, getting support from our parents and our oldest sister, and then I will help you with the rest. I wanted my sister to learn to do things herself and to set goals, while I would be there to support her. I believe that when children are being handed things too easily or too readily, they don’t appreciate the importance of hard work and being able to make things happen themselves. My parents were tempted to pay for all the costs. However I encouraged them to let my sister work it out herself.

Within the next several months, my sister was able to get some financial support from our oldest sister and from our parents. She was also able to save about $800 from her job as a server. In the end, she needed an additional $2500. I offered to give her $1500 and loan her $1000, which she will have to pay back. My sister was very grateful. I knew she worked very hard for the trip and I told her that I was very proud of her.

I had never seen my sister so motivated about anything as she was about this trip. She went on the trip and she loved it. I think a big part of her enjoying the trip was that she had worked hard for it. While she was away on her trip, she texted me and our family almost every day to tell us she loves us. She got me a very cute purse in Italy for my birthday gift.

Now, she has been saving up money to pay me $1000. I explained to her that although I want to give her the money, it is also important that she learns to save and be responsible by saving up to pay me.

Even though it is tempting to give children things as soon as they ask for them or beg to have them, let them earn these gifts themselves by giving them the opportunity to set goals and earn these things with their hard work. In doing so, you are training your children to be patient, purposeful, conscientious and responsible. Nowadays with the technology, it is very easy to want instant gratification and instant convenience. Yet those things don’t teach your children the values of hard work, perseverance, responsibility, discipline, goal setting and patience.

In summary, tell your  children you love them and care about them on a regular basis. Acknowledge their strengths. Tell them you are proud of their accomplishments, even the seemingly minor ones. Lastly, let your children earn their gifts by supporting them through reassurance and love, helping them to set goals and encouraging them to make things happen themselves. By taking a step back and letting your children work towards their goals themselves, you have given your children a very special gift – a gift of faith and trust that they can do anything themselves if they set their mind to!

In the next post, I will write about the remaining three love languages.

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