20 Quick, Powerful Ways to Show Your Children You Care

Lasting lessons in parenting from a dying widow who was an amazing mother.

Posted Aug 24, 2012

Over the years I have come to realize that powerful parenting moments can create lasting powerful memories. I have experienced this realization as a father and on the front lines in my work as a child and family psychologist.

Yet the most inspiring, moving examples of powerful parenting moments I have ever witnessed were with my late fiancee, Oi Yin.  A truly amazing mother, Oi Yin died at age forty-one after a 29 month spirited battle with pancreatic cancer. When I met her back in 2007, she was already a widow, having lost her late husband to lung cancer.

Over the course of our four and half year relationship, Oi Yin helped me and all those around her to become better people. Selfless and committed to making others happy, she was a very special person. Her altruistic, giving personal qualities and incredible character flowed naturally into her role as a truly caring, loving, and understanding mother.


Oi Yin's two children, currently ages 9 and 12, have shown incredible strength and resilience. They are no doubt grieving two huge losses, having at early ages lost both their mother and father to cancer. At the same time, despite their emotional pain, Oi Yin's messages of caring, love, and empowerment have emotionally fortified and nourished both of her children with lasting "good stuff." One of Oi Yin's favorite expressions was to "focus on the "good stuff."

What follows below are just some of the ways I watched Oi Yin work her magic as a mother. I hope these inspire you as readers as they have inspired me as a father:

1. Say “I understand” and mean it.

2. Ask for her opinion....and listen!

3. Think discipline (teach) vs. punish.

4. Model self-care.

5. Praise him for telling the truth.

6. Take/maintain an interest in their interests.

7. Smile all you can.

8. Use humor to connect.

9. Remember when children are hurting, they can act most unlovable. Be there for them.

10. Acknowledge his feelings.

11. Avoid excessive lectures.

12. Share your own past struggles …..within reason.

13. Create a new tradition with him.

14. Do not ridicule her.

15. Praise effort.

16. Do what you say.

17. Share how you feel.

18. Catch her doing things right.

19. Hug him.

20. Remember kids are always learning—and so are you.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist, personal, and executive coach, and motivational speaker in the greater Philadelphia area. He has been on the Today Show, Radio, and has written four popular books, including 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child. You can also follow him on twitter.