“Tips for Meeting Your New Boyfriend’s Parents (Lots of ‘Em!)” by Josey Miller

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So you’re meeting his parents?  Congratulations!  That’s a big step in a relationship, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  Consider it a meet-and-greet: No need to cram in every last detail about yourself over a single meal.  Keep the conversation to basics such as where you live and what you do and ask lots of questions.  Parents also love to hear about the fun things their son and his girlfriend have done together: restaurants you both enjoyed, a wild-and-crazy amusement park, a silly gag gift he bought you. Some other tips?

  • Remember that his parents are probably just as nervous as you are! (In most cases, if their son likes you, they want you to feel like you’d fit in with their family… so you’ll stick around and keep making their son happy.)
  • Don’t go empty-handed. Better yet, bring a gift that means something personal to you. For example, if you’re originally from California, give his parents See’s Candies. That way you have a gift and a built-in conversation starter. Also, generally flowers, candy or dessert (or even coffee) are safer bets than wine when it comes to meeting parents.
  • Don’t discuss politics or religion (the same rule you apply when meeting anyone new). I don’t think I even need to say that sex is off-limits. Use common sense. However, if his parents specifically ask you who you’re voting for—the election is top-of-mind for many people these days—simply find something nice to say about each candidate’s personality. Don’t get into the issues, or the atmosphere could go from very pleasant to very tense very quickly. Note: Just as this is an opportunity for them to get to know you, this is also an opportunity for you to get to know them and to better understand your guy given that these people raised him. If they’re uber-religious, just keep in mind that your guy grew up in an uber-religious home. Whether or not he’s since decided to eschew religion, that upbringing is a part of him.
  • What if you’re a vegetarian, your boyfriend forgets to tell them (big oops) and they ask you why you’re not eating the lamb chops? Easy: “Mmmm green beans.  These are amazing. Can I have the recipe?”  (Then make your boyfriend stop for pizza on the way home.)  No need to make anyone feel bad. 
  • Remember: No matter what, if all else fails, the one thing you have in common with your guy’s parents is that you all care deeply about this one person. So telling them one unique quality that you’ve noticed in him that makes him stand out is not only a compliment to him, it’s a compliment to them.
  • While you’ll inevitably feel nervous about meeting your guy’s parents, feel confident in the fact that your guy invited you to meet his parents. He wouldn’t do that if he weren’t proud to be dating you. Also be sensitive that this is a scary situation for him, too: He wants your parents to approve of you and he wants you to feel comfortable around his parents. So be there for each other.

Want to read more of my tips for meeting his parents? I shared them with a writer at RedEye, an edition of the Chicago Tribune. Read the article here.

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