Tips for Meeting the Parents for the First Time

Picture from Meet The Parents

Meeting your partner’s parents can be nerve wracking. What will they think of me? What if I don’t like them, or if they don’t like me? There is only one first impression, and if it goes wrong it can become a problem in your relationship. But don’t worry, there are some easy preparations you can do to get a good start with your future in-laws.

Understand the significance

Before you go all panicy about the meeting, think about where your relationship is. Have you already had the talk and maybe even said I Love You to each other? If so, this might be a step for your loved one to show he or she is ready to take your relationship to the next level and wants you to meet the family. This can mark that this is an important step and to prepare for the meeting is a good idea so you can get a good and smooth start with your future relationship to them. 

If you just started dating however this might be a bit difficult to understand. Is it just a casual meeting with no significance at all, or is this your loved one’s way of letting you know they want to get more serious? If this is the case, it might be a good idea to sit down and have the talk with your loved one before you go to meet the parents. Where are you in your relationship? What is the idea of this first meeting?

If you don’t feel ready to meet the parents, let your partner know that. It is important that you are open about how you feel if this is a big thing for you. There are a lot of families who are very open and welcoming about this part and where it is common to bring along friends for gatherings and so forth. You need to know how it is in your partners family so you can better understand the significance of the meeting and be prepared. For some people meeting the friends and the family has no or very little significance and does not mark anything particularly important, whilst in others, this is the most important part of establishing the relationship and marking the importance of it.

What kind of gathering is it?

The next step is to understand what kind of gathering it is. Is it just a casual barbeque with friends of the family or is it someone’s birthday or a big holiday where there are other relatives present as well? This is important for you to understand more about what to expect of the night and to come prepared.

If there are going to be the entire family there, it is good to know beforehand so you don’t show up and become overwhelmed with all the new faces, names and connections. Also, if it is someone’s birthday, it is important that you know that. Are the people in the room all friends of the family or relatives and family members? Ask your partner to give you as much detail about the event as possible so you can be prepared and have some idea of what to expect.

Family etiquette

The next step is to ask your partner all about his or her family codes. Such as how to dress and what kind of etiquette do their parents expect. Are they very strict and formal or more laidback?How does your partners family greet each other? Do they expect a hug, kiss on the cheek, bow or maybe a handshake? Do they expect you to take off your shoes when going in to the house, do they expect to be called sir or madam or do they prefer their first names? Ask your partner for advice on this.

What to wear

Are his or hers family very conventional and always dress up, even for family dinner, or are they more casual and laid back where it doesn’t really matter? Either way, make sure to choose your clothes right for the occassion as you don’t want to show up all dressed up for a casual barbeque where everyone else is in their comfy-clothes and flip-flops, as well as you do not want to do the opposite. Dress appropriately so ask your partner how his or her family is and understand the venue.

Are his or hers parents very religious? It might be a good idea to dress as if you were going to church and put more proper clothes on and leave the heavy metal T-shirt or mini-skirt at home. In any case it is a good idea to dress on the conservative side, do however not overdo it as your true style will come out in the end if you are in the relationship for the long run.

It’s always safer to choose a more conservative look for the first few times, and once you get to know them you’ll have a better understanding of what is acceptable and not. 

Do your research

Ask your partner about his or hers parents. What do they like and not like? What do they do for a living? Do they have any special hobbies? Try and get some basic information about them so you can prepare some topics for the conversation and maybe find something in common you can talk about. This is important as well so you can avoid sensitive subjects and maybe saying something that goes  against their beliefs or likings.

Handholding and kissing

It’s all nice and sweet with handholding, hugs and kisses as it shows a healthy relationship, but this might not be appropriate in front of your partners parents. It can be awkward and uncomfortable enough for people to see two persons being very affectionate, but remember it might be even worse when it is your own child. So think about the parents and keep your hands off each other for the night and try and focus on the interaction with your partner’s parents instead.

Show appreciation

To show appreciation can be simple things such as saying thank you for the delicious dinner, to bring a homemade cake or small flowers with you when going to visit. Do ask your partner first if they think it is a good idea as what you might think is appropriate isn’t for his or her family. For example if you want to bring a small bottle of wine as this is common in your family, it might be a totally different history in theirs.

There could be a history of alcoholism you don’t yet know about, or just the fact that they don’t drink at all for various reasons and don’t appreciate alcoholic beverages. This can become a very awkward situation so do ask your partner first and try not to go overboard with the items or the appreciation as well as it will only come off as false and as if you are trying to showoff and buy their affection.

Avoid conversation pitfalls

It is a good idea to avoid subjects such as politics and religion the first time you meet your partner’s parents as these are guaranteed discussion starters that can get heated easily. Some parents can be very straightforward with their opinions and ask you all sorts of things just to test you out.

The important part here is not to lie, even if your opinions might be the total opposite of your partner’s parents. Be honest and respond to these questions you can’t get out of with the most respectful way possible. It is a good idea to ask your partner beforehand how his or her parents are so you have some heads up about this before going over.

If they say something that offends you, just stay composed and try to change the subject or say something like, I’ll guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that if necessary. It might be a good idea to consider having a pre-arranged word or signal to let your partner know that you need assistance or some support before going over.

A classic pitfall as well is the awkward silence, so try and have some questions ready to ask to your future in-laws. You can ask things about their hobbies, how was it like when they first met and how was your partner like as a child? These conversations are very personal and do show that you are interested in learning more about your partner and his or hers family.

However, these questions might not always be suited for the occasion so try and have some other more casual ones ready as well such as..

  • Where did you go on vacation the last time?
  • How was your week or weekend?

You can always try and find something in the house that you really like and compliment your partner’s parents on it and ask questions such as where does it come from if it is a special object for example.

Don’t assume the worst

After all is done, don’t assume the worst. It probably went a lot better than you think! Don’t expect a love-fest after the first meeting either  Not everything will have run smoothly but you will get there in the end. If you did get into trouble, you can still recover! Remember that with time all bad moments end up being a funny story to tell later. If you messed up really bad, don’t just fall in to sending a message through your partner or sending a quick text or e-mail to say you are sorry as this is much less personal and can be taken as a sign that you don’t care by the parents. By taking the time and effort of contacting them yourself with a handwritten note or a phone call, this really shows how much you care and wish to have a good relationship with them.

Stay loving!
LoveByte Cupid <3

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