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5 Words to Make Relationships Thrive

One night when my nephew had just turned nine, he was telling me how some kids in his third-grade class had formed a band. "Really," I said. "What's the band's name?" With total matter-of-fact innocence he said, "Moldy Crackers."

Moldy Crackers! Does it get any more edgy in third grade? Let's hope not.

As much as I love that story and always will, I also recognize it's no longer who my nephew is—or who his buddies are. Those former third-graders are now in their thirties. Some of them, including my nephew, are married with offspring. Can you imagine if I still tried to engage him in Rock, Paper, Scissors? (I don't.)

Kids teach us this paradox better than anyone: If we want to stay connected, we have to be willing to let go—and of course let those around us grow. Both are easier to do when we ourselves are growing.

5 Words for Relationship Success: "Meet Me Where I Am"

Have you ever known someone—a friend, a relative, or maybe a boss—who just couldn't do this? That is, just couldn't get past seeing you in a certain (often outdated) light? How did it feel?

By contrast, I have never met anyone—young or old, struggling or succeeding—who didn't appreciate being seen and valued for who they are and where they are. Some examples of meet-me-where-I-am in everyday life:

  • Your co-worker lets you know he's going through a tough time. Rather than pretending everything is fine, you offer some way to lighten his load.
  • Your sister gets a promotion or some other accolade. Instead of making cutting remarks, you congratulate her and high-five to her success.
  • You meet up with former classmates you haven't seen in years. Rather than reminding them of who they were in high school, you smile and greet them as they are today.
If we don't meet folks where they are, they're probably going to move on without us. Sometimes that's necessary. And sometimes the ones having to move on are us. As my mother often told me as I was growing up, "If you're going to grow, you're going to have to leave some people behind."

Maybe so. But a great many relationships can be salvaged and enjoyed, often for a lifetime. All it takes is mutual acceptance and a willingness to live in the ever-changing present, not the forever-unchangeable past.

Photo of Gina DeLapa

Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at