5 Keys to Strong Relationships from a Mom

A happy family laughs together on the floor.There are so many types of relationships that parents can have — from the pediatrician to the school counselor, blended families to chosen framilies. With this variety of relationships comes countless ways to maintain them. It can all be overwhelming. But no matter how nuanced the relationship, the keys to successful ones are simple.

Here is a reflection on my top five keys to strong relationships.

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1. Communication

The reason I chose to write this article is because I am a person who thrives on relationships. I love connecting with others, even those I don’t know very well. This might seem intimidating to most people, but it’s actually very enjoyable for me. I believe in their importance, and see how they affect daily life.

We should try to speak honestly about our feelings and opinions while also being active listeners. Asking questions, not interrupting stories, being attentive, and maintaining eye contact demonstrates active listening skills and shows genuine interest in other human beings. Most people who like to be in relationships do like to talk about themselves, but a combination of both parties equally sharing and listening is definitely more healthy.

I have found over the years that active listening is not always easy to do. As a society, our patience and ability to focus has been negatively effected by smart phones, watches, email, and even Ring cameras that continually interrupt our conversations and thoughts with notifications and instant gratification. These distractions make it more challenging to listen as our minds race with information and wait for the next buzz. As far as communication goes, no situation is going to be perfect, but it helps to stop and listen, actively.

Strong communicators also show empathy and address conflict, rather than avoid it. They turn guilt or lack of confidence into an opportunity to communicate honestly about something they did or need. By far, communication is work, but work towards a stronger relationship!

Quarreling sisters sit back to back on the couch.

2. Trust & Respect

They pretty much go hand in hand. Mutual respect for a spouse, partner, friend, or colleague is a must, but what exactly does this look like?

Respecting someone means treating them the way you want to be treated. The golden rule we learned in kindergarten holds true to this day. Respecting someone means accepting and appreciating an individual for who they are, even if you both have your differences.

Once respect is earned, trust comes along, but of course, it might take a while. A trusting friend is someone who is genuine and can be confided in for simple conversations, or darker secrets, depending on the level of trust that is formed.

Of course, trust can be easily lost as well. For example, if you know someone whose storyline constantly changes, or someone who lies often, it is very challenging to give that person your trust. In other words, it is difficult for them to earn your trust.

An elderly couple share a laugh while video calling on their tablet.3. Commitment

Usually associated with romantic couples, commitment is actually involved in numerous types of relationships. Think in daily life how much we think and do for one another — friends, parents, neighbors — to show we care. Or, at work and school, we demonstrate our personal best because it is truly valued.

Commitment also means sacrificing for each other and putting forth the best effort to make relationships healthy ones. Life is busy, but staying connected, remembering important dates, and physically seeing each other when possible are important commitments to successful relationships.

On the flip side, the absence of commitment is selfishness and apathy. It is also not trying your best. When a romantic relationship fails, it is partly because commitment was low on the list of priorities for one of the partners. If the lack of commitment leads to failure, then the act of commitment fosters successful relationships.

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4. Empathy

Being considerate of others and trying to see other people’s perspectives is crucial in a relationship. This can be challenging in a world where many believe it’s “my way or the highway,” and hold to such strong opinions that there is no room for compromise. Putting yourself in someone else’s situation is very powerful and allows relationships to connect on a deeper level. This is where listening and supporting happens. Being empathetic creates a space for mutual understanding.

Empathy even improves our short-lived relationships — the ones we have with strangers on our commute, at the store, out running errands — making our days more tolerable and enjoyable. For example, when we hear an infant screaming on an airplane, do we feel annoyed, or as parents, do we just smile with reassurance?

Two friends bicker in the kitchen.5. Acceptance & Letting Go

Often in relationships, we have to accept that, at a certain point, things just are the way they are and cannot be changed. We have to pick and choose which conflicts are worth discussing with someone we care about, and which are not. Welcome to adulting. We might find as someone is getting older, or going through a significant challenge in life, we have to accept this and improvise within the relationship. Acceptance is also about valuing differences and admitting that it’s okay to disagree.

However, we also have to accept that some relationships have come to an end, in order to invest in the ones that are thriving. I’ve kept many strong relationships, lost some by choice, and some not by choice. Like many of you have probably experienced, I’ve also been “ghosted” and gossiped about (yes, I’m letting my guard down here). But in those cases, I try to let the “ghosts rest,” and instead turn to the many genuine, loyal, and supportive people in my life. My husband gave me the advice to focus on the 95 percent who love and support me, rather than the five percent who just don’t, for whatever reason. They probably aren’t the best people for me.

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I hope my five keys resonate with and help you build strong relationships, whether with your partner, kids, or colleagues. All long-lasting relationships require communication, honesty, commitment, understanding, and acceptance.


Sarika Parikh
Straight from the heart of New York, Sarika is a social butterfly who loves all things family, fitness, and fashion related. She married her college sweetheart in 2001, Ashin, whom she met at Bucknell University. They have three sons together as well as a sweet goldendoodle puppy, Sedona, who is also much loved. She loves to travel and has also lived in several states: New York, Rhode Island, Arizona, and Texas. A former educator of 13 years, Sarika loves working with children and continues to give back to the DFW community through volunteering. She currently serves on a few committees and both the Young Men's Service League and Pink Elementary School boards. When not supporting her kids on the soccer/football fields (or being loud at their basketball games), Sarika loves to decompress by practicing hot yoga or cycling on the Spin bike.


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