Meeting His Parents and Making the Right Impression
Before the engagement ring comes you will likely be meeting his parents. Meeting his parents can be a very stressful idea but it does not have to be. There are things that you can do that can make meeting his parents a lot more comfortable.
Making the right impression when meeting his parents can help to strengthen your relationship with your boyfriend. Getting along with your boyfriend’s family ( or future in-laws) is an important strategy for building a strong bond in your relationship and avoiding divorce down the line.
Meeting His Parents For the First Time
Meeting his parents for the first time, especially when you have not been together for very long, can feel like learning how to approach an unfamiliar dog. You want to crouch down a bit as they approach and meekly extend your hand for them to sniff.
Of course, you are nervous but keep in mind it is after all just meeting some new people. Do not let it get under your skin to where you are considering taking drugs to help relax you. Believe it showing up after a bourbon or two is just a bad idea.
These tips are going to help you get through meeting his parents and make sure you make the right impression. Take a deep breath and let’s get started.
Let’s just prepare thinking that his parents are just not that cool. That means that you want to cover up any bad tattoos, or any tattoos that you can for that matter. Sure, everyone it seems has a tattoo or two, but initially, it is better to conceal them the best you can. Once they get to know you as a person you certainly should not keep hiding parts of yourself.
Consider meeting his parents as a job interview. They are interviewing you to see if you are fit to be your boyfriend’s significant other. Just like a job interview you want to put your best foot forward when meeting his parents.
You do not have to go to extremes with your appearance, no need to run out and get some Botox (unless you are due anyway) nor worry about having straight teeth for the meeting, but a little eyebrow waxing to tidy things up is just part of the prep.
It is important that you dress for success when meeting his parents. Go with a conservative look. Some suggestions include:
- An at knee-length skirt or dress, don’t go any shorter than skimming the knee.
- Jeans are fine, opt for some without holes.
- Leggings and a “long enough” sweater.
Avoid any clothing that is too revealing is a definite must. This is not the time to show your assets off. It will make his parents uncomfortable. Once you meet his parents and you can gauge their vibe then you can dress accordingly but remember we are going into this assuming his parents are conservative.
Just because your boyfriend is a laid back dude, it does not mean that his parents are. He may even tell you that his parents are cool because, well, they are his parents and he loves them, but it is always best to err on the side of conservative dress.
This is not the time for sky-high heels or sexy strappy footwear. While it may feel like fakery to slip into those sensible flats, just do it. Your shoes speak volumes about who you are. A nice pair of flats says “this girl has her feet firmly on the ground”.
If you want your boyfriend’s next search to include jewelry financing for that engagement ring, it is important that you get his parents on board. Parents are powerful tools when it comes to influencing your boyfriend to take the next step. Suffering through a night with low key makeup, conservative clothing and flats will be worth it.
Your Makeup and Hair
You want to feel confident and comfortable when meeting his parents but not if it means comfortable for you is heavy dramatic makeup and an “alternative” looking hair style. In about 50 milliseconds of seeing your face, his parents will make decisions about who you are. It is human nature to do so. Go easy on the makeup, and keep the hair style simple.
Go for a natural look with your makeup. In other words, tone it down. Unless you have plans of meeting his parents in a club setting or at a formal cocktail party, you need to keep your look simple. This is not the time to glam it up.
You definitely want to look well-groomed. Consider some eyebrow waxing just to clean up those lines. You want to look like you could be the mother of their grandchildren someday and wild hair and makeup do not deliver that type of image. Simple, sweet, and conservative looks like you could be his wife and the mother of his children.
Work on curbing any bad language habits that you have ahead of meeting his parents. You may be a little free-wheeling with the language for their taste. Remember think job interview when you first meet and keep that no-no words out of your vocabulary.
Any words or topics that you would not use in the church you should not use in front of his parents. Don’t swear or talk about that wild drugs fueled week in college. Even if they slip up in front of you, it is strongly suggested you keep those bad words out of the conversation.
Off Limit Conversations
The old saying is you should never talk politics or religion. This is a good rule of thumb to follow when meeting his parents. Even if they bait you with political talk, stay clear of the conversation. There is no reason to exclaim your party affiliation and what you think about the latest political news.
Political talk can put the oldest friends at odds, truth be told political discussions can put families at odds. Just do yourself a big favor and just avoid those conversations like the plague.
Another hot topic can be religion. If asked, and only if asked, you can say what church you go to. Unless you are sure that they have the same religious beliefs you do, do not get sucked into this conversion conversation right now.
Other things you should not talk about include:
- Bad childhood memories. For example, his mom makes a killer dinner, and you respond with “my mom was a drunk that never made me dinner, this is wonderful” avoid those sentiments.
- Don’t discuss your own family’s personal history. For example, there is no need for his parents to know that Uncle Jack has been in prison for 20 years.
- Avoid talking about finances. You do not want to be viewed as a gold digger that is going to use their son as a personal ATM. Stay away from talking about money, even in a positive light. Just avoid that talk.
Words matter, so be sure that you use a little calculation in what words you choose to speak. Remember that the first impression is the most important. What you may view as an innocent statement about your dislike of the president or how your light bill is due can be greatly misconstrued.
If you cannot talk about politics, religion, money, or your crazy family what do you have left to talk about. You! You can talk about you, after all the idea of meeting his parents is so that they can get to know you and you can get to know them.
Talk about where you went to school. Talk about what you do for a living. Where you think your career is taking you. Talk about the weather, but not climate change. Talk about your pets. Talk about the funny thing your niece, nephew, or that crazy kid next door did.
There are plenty of things you can share about yourself without getting into philosophical debates about closely held beliefs. Reveal just enough to intrigue them into wanting to get to know you.
If meeting his parents means heading to their place for dinner, bring a gift for the hostess. It does not have to be a big expensive gesture. A bouquet of flowers will do. Don’t bring alcohol unless your boyfriend has mentioned that his parents enjoy a good glass of wine.
A small trinket is always appreciated and will amp up your credibility as a girl with good home training. Flowers are always a lovely hostess gift. Don’t go empty-handed. You can even grab a cake at the bakery.
Here is a very important tip, even if you hate the food, eat it. No one likes to prepare a meal for a picky eater. This meal is not the meal to make demands, assert your dislikes, and complain in silent protest by not eating the food.
If you have to swipe it into a napkin when no one is looking. The quickest way to fall out of good graces fast with his parents is to not eat the food that they have cooked for you. Not everyone is the best cook and not every cook will check to see if you have special dietary requirements, suck it up. Don’t insult whoever did the cooking by not eating.
Pay Compliments But Make Sure They are Genuine
Compliments should always be genuine. People know who they are, what they own, and how things look. For example, if the yard is a mess, you do not want to tell his parents that their property is lovely. You also do not want to extend compliments that are not really deserved.
Try to avoid complimenting either parent on their appearance, it can be misconstrued, and it is a little weird. Keep the compliments focused on the meal that has been prepared, the home, and the wonderful son that they raised.
You never want to be perceived as not being authentic in your compliments. Try to keep it as honest as you can. There is always a way to find something nice to say, even if you have to focus on what a great job they did with their son.
Let’s say that it is not a dinner but a cousin’s wedding, or a siblings graduation party that is the backdrop for meeting his parents. This can be a dangerous situation. There will likely be alcohol present, maybe a few ex-girlfriends at the event, ugh, maybe even an ex-spouse.
If this is the type of setting that you will meet his parents in, stay away from that open bar. You are likely already stressed out over meeting his parents and his 500 other relatives do not try to quench those fears with alcohol. It could end up very badly.
There are plenty of times when you can party till your heart’s content, at a family party, for the first time, is not one of those times. Be on best behavior and stay away from the booze. It is perfectly fine to mingle only with the people that you want to get to know.
Ignore the whispers. You are the new kid, and a lot of people will likely be whispering about Bob’s new love. Just smile politely. Do not answer embarrassing questions about Bob, refer the inquisitor to Bob. For example, old Aunty Mabel walks up to you and inquires about whether Bob is still drinking too much like he was when he was in his early twenties. Smile, and say something like “oh you would have to talk to Bob about that “ never throw your boyfriend under the bus in front of nosey relatives.
Keep the Negative Comments to Yourself
There is a difference between being honest and telling a few white lies to protect someone you care about. If his parents are terrible he probably already knows that and he does not need confirmation from you.
Pointing out the obvious flaws in his family will not help your relationship one bit. If he asks what you thought, you do not have to gush about how great his people are unless they are, but certainly do not drag them.