There are definitely horror stories about first-time meetings with parents, and movies like Meet the Parents don’t help. It can be a nerve-racking experience, but it’s not too often that your date’s parents will go out of their way to make you uncomfortable. Do some research and take these 7 easy tips to heart before taking that next step to meet the parents.
It’s all about the timing when you meet the parents. Discuss what it means to your partner — for some people, meeting their parents is no big deal, and for others it’s huge. Either way, you should assess how serious you are in the relationship because no matter how your partner feels, his/her parents will notice whether you’re sincere or not.
Prepare for your visit! Ask your partner questions about his/her parents. Getting some background information will help to make conversation. Also, find out who you’ll be meeting, and what to call them. It could be awkward if you’re trying to make conversation and you don’t know what to call your date’s mom — “Mrs. Smith” or “Mary?” If there are any special customs that your boy/girlfriend’s parents follow, be sure to ask questions about those, too.
Please be punctual! First impressions are lasting, and you want to make a good one. If you’re going to be late — it better be for a good reason — then be sure to have a fully charged mobile phone and their number to let them know ahead of time.
This is a requirement, even if your date’s parents say no gifts. There’s always something small and appropriate that can be gifted — your research will pay off here. A bottle of wine is always appropriate for a dinner meeting. If the family doesn’t drink, or if you’re meeting for lunch or something more casual, chocolates, specialty coffee or flowers are appropriate.
Dress to Impress
This should be a no-brainer, but next to being punctual, proper grooming is essential for a good first impression. Do research on where you’re meeting, and what the parents are like — are they super casual? For guys, nice jeans or slacks with a proper shirt and blazer is appropriate, and you can alter those depending on where you’re meeting. For women, no short skirts or cleavage-bearing tops. The rule of thumb here is to dress more conservatively than you usually would while still being yourself.
Your date should know what his/her parents expect, and can guide you here. If your girlfriend tells you to put on a full suit, just shut up and do it.
Another no-brainer, be polite to your boy/girlfriend’s parents! After dinner, ask if you can chip in with cleanup or dishes. Be sure to say “please” and “thank you.” Guys, put the toilet seat down, ladies, sit with your legs closed. What matters most of all is how you treat your partner’s parents, family members, and even family pets and property — it will reflect on how you treat their son/daughter.
Again, research is important here! You’ll be able to make relevant, engaging conversation if you know a little about your partner’s parents. Topics to avoid: Religion, politics, race relations and sex are a few of the touchy topics that can ruin a meeting. If you’re going to talk about any of these things, be sure that you’re not the one that starts it. All parents are different — some are more open and casual than others, so just feel the situation out and trust your instincts.
A topic of conversation that always goes over well is their son or daughter. Portray your date in a positive light, and maybe share a great story about them.