Meeting the parents? Tips to prep for the big day

Carol RH Malasig
From your clothes to the way you talk, parents will notice everything. Here are tips to make sure you leave a good, lasting impression

BIG STEP. Are you ready to meet your partner's folks? 

MANILA, Philippines – Meeting the parents of someone you’ve been going out with will always come with a bit of pressure and anxiety.

When it comes to parents and the person their son or daughter is dating, first impressions do tend to last. It’s best to make a good first impression, which should be easier to maintain.

The overarching piece of advice we can give you here is applicable not just to relationships, but to many aspects of life: do your research.

Are his or her parents conservative or are they the more casual, fun-loving types? Are you going to a formal dinner or just a small family dinner at home? Is her brother into Game of Thrones? Does she have a little sister you need to get to know? Have your partner tell you more about them. 

What to wear

Appearances say a lot about you. Make no mistake – they may be perfectly nice, but you are being evaluated at this meeting. 

It may sound old-fashioned, but modesty and good grooming are key.

Nothing too sexy or nothing too trendy, for obvious reasons. 

For girls, leave your mini skirts and shorts at home. Safer choices: a knee-length skirt or a pair of jeans that flatter your figure but don’t look too tight, with a top that covers up your cleavage. Add a fitted cardigan for a preppy touch. In terms of colors, go for neutrals this first time around. Nothing too harsh or glaring. 

A lot of women overthink their wardrobe choices, but keep things simple. Accessorize, but don’t go overboard. A simple pair of earrings, a watch, or a dainty bracelet will do.

For the gentlemen, just keep an overall clean look. Make sure your clothes are ironed and shoes are free of mud and dirt. 

Get a haircut a week before your meeting (not the day before!) with the parents to allow time to break in your look. Make sure you’re clean–shaven. 

Have tattoos? You don’t have to take great pains to hide them, or highlight them. Just be yourself, and be ready to answer any questions about that – if they ask. 

Your perfect accessory: the gift

Again, research. You will want to give them something they will actually enjoy. What are their hobbies? What’s their favorite restaurant? 

Use the information you get from your partner to get them something they would like. However, make sure that you don’t give them something that is too expensive – it’ll make everyone uncomfortable.

Some go for gift baskets that contain a bit of everything your partner’s parents enjoy. Putting one together should be easy with the help of your boyfriend/girlfriend. A new spice or seasoning for the mom who loves to cook, a new accessory for the dad who loves his grill, for example. 

Try to make it a bit personal as this will reflect thoughtfulness. Does the mom love chocolate? Try baking (or buying!) a chocolate cake that all of you can share for dessert.

Making conversation

Start on what you already know about them and work from there. Don’t immediately bring up potentially polarizing topics like money, politics, and religion, which may lead to a heated debate. 

Be casual and give them a bit of time to warm up to you. Don’t try way too hard to impress your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents and even the siblings. Were you a straight-A student or do you hold a rather important position in your company? Don’t blurt that out. Wait for them to ask you about your achievements. Nobody likes a braggart.

Don’t let the conversation focus on you alone. Ask about their interests as well. This gives you a time to breathe from all the questions they may be asking. Also, it’s good to show that you’re a good listener as well. 

Flatter them by laughing at their jokes and saying nice things about their house and your partner, something you know that they’re likely to take pride in, perhaps a beautiful piece of furniture, or someone’s work of art. Stick to facts and don’t go overboard. They will sense it if you’re just saying things to earn their favor.

In additional, make sure that you are on time. If you are on time, that’s expected. If you are late, the negative impact may be significant, depending on the parents’ personalities.

Despite the pressure in getting your partner’s parents to like you, do try to be yourself in the course of the meeting – be it over dinner, a picinic, or at a family gathering. After all, you’d want them to like the real you the first time so that there will be less pressure to keep up with their expectations the next time you see them. –

Image of couple meeting the parents from Shutterstock

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