Up until now, your parents knew him as your friend. That, or they just didn’t know him. Well, the time has now come for your boyfriend to meet your parents. No matter how ‘chill’ or normal you think they might be, the experience might be (and was for me) no less than cringe-worthy. So, whether your parents are welcoming or wretched about meeting your beau, HC is here to make the first encounter a little less tense.
Prep the ‘rents: For starters, if you haven’t already told your parents about your boyfriend, his interests, what he’s studying, etc., you should before he arrives! Prepping them for the meeting is important so that they can know a little about him and initiate conversation. Even if you’re sure your parents will love him, remember that he is probably extremely nervous and wants to impress them as much as possible.
He might feel like he’s walking into an interview and is on trial, so do your best to have your family be as welcoming as possible says Patti Feinstein, America’s Dating Coach. There is a reason you chose to date him, so emphasize his strengths and express to your parents what makes him such a great guy! Also, tell your parents to go easy on him, says Kathleen Bogle, a Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at La Salle University and author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating. He’ll feel the pressure as soon as he shakes your dad’s hand!
Prep the BF: Just like you informed your parents about your boyfriend, do the same for him. Tell him about your parents and what their personalities are like, their quirks and hobbies. Tell him about what they do for a living, what your family does together, so that he can prepare – just like you did[http://www.hercampus.com/love/meet-parents-how-win-over-your-boyfriends-parents] when you met his parents. If your dad is a football fan, and your boyfriend is too, let him know so he can use it as an icebreaker.
Do your boyfriend a favor by also clueing him in on conversation topics (like politics and religion) he should stay away from, but also by letting him know where your parents stand on certain issues. Even if he and they agree on a controversial issue, it’s still a good idea to stay away from those topics says Feinstein. Controversial topics run the risk of dominating the conversation, which then prevents your parents from actually getting to know your boyfriend. Tell your boyfriend to tell your parents about what he’s studying, about his job, sports, and hobbies says Feinstein.
Once you’ve done all this, Bogle recommends trying to arrange the first meeting somewhere where he won't be under a spotlight. Somewhere your parents can still check him out but won’t make him feel on trial. “Consider a larger family BBQ or something where your boyfriend can blend in a little bit, while still getting in some quality time,” advises Bogle. However, every family is different. Many girls introduce their boyfriends to their parents at dinner. “The first time my boyfriend met my parents was when they were visiting me at school and we all went out to dinner. It was just us and my parents which gave them the opportunity to really get to know him,” says Nisha Patel a junior at Northeastern University.
It’s also best not to put too much pressure on your boyfriend. Immense pressure can cause even more nervousness that can lead to awkward silences and forced conversation. “Let him be himself. Pressuring him to fit a perfect mold doesn’t help anything. Plus, if you’re afraid to let your boyfriend be himself when he meets your parents, you should think about why you’re even dating him,” says Grace Scarella, a senior at Gonzaga University.
Follow the House Rules: If your boyfriend is staying at your house, follow your parents’ rules. HC knows you’re smart enough not to share a bed with him if your parents aren’t cool with it, but if they give rules like a curfew, listen to them and come home on time. If you decide to break your parents’ rules, guess who they’ll banish from your house…your boyfriend. The worst that will happen to you is that they’ll yell at you and say they are disappointed. Most of the blame will be put on him. So don’t risk their trust and give them an easy reason to dislike him.
Furthermore, though you can’t control your boyfriend’s behavior, (and if he’s a good guy he’ll probably do this without saying) remind him of the importance of good manners and being respectful. He’ll definitely score points with your mom if he picks up his plate after dinner. “Be sure that he talks at breakfast. My parents really disliked my sister’s boyfriend because he would just come down and read the paper at the table every morning,” says one recent Tufts graduate.
Troubleshooting: If you’re getting the feeling your parents are not fond of your guy, take them aside and ask why. Try to smooth out any misconceptions or misunderstandings. If your boyfriend is being disrespectful – unintentionally or intentionally, take him aside and relay your parents’ thoughts to him. And again, do everything you can to help your parents see his good qualities rather than the flaws they may have seen initially. For instance, if your boyfriend accidently made a crude joke that they took offensively, ask him to apologize and tell your parents it was unintentional and he didn’t mean to disrespect them. Then emphasize qualities your parents would respect. It doesn’t have to be something big. For me, I told my parents how my boyfriend always gives his seat up to elders on the subway, which they liked.
Lastly, from personal experience—I don’t know what to say about reducing the awkward, cringing feeling you might experience…except that I promise it is not as awkward as you make it out to be. If you see he and your dad getting along and having good conversation, then any awkwardness that had been there has probably subsided. To make yourself feel more comfortable, try to think of him as just a close friend you’ve introduced to your parents. Don’t worry too much about your dad’s bad jokes or your mom’s pronunciation of the word immediately (my mom says im-ee-git-ly claiming that’s how the British say it…). Everyone’s parents have little quirks, and your boyfriend knows that. Plus if he loves you he won’t care about the small stuff.
So good luck and don’t worry—if you prep both parties, follow the rules, and take it easy you’ll be fine!
Patti Feinstein, Relationship Expert/America’s Dating Coach
Kathleen Bogle, Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at La Salle
University and author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating
Grace Scarella, Senior at Gonzaga University
Nisha Patel, Junior at Northeastern University
Recent Tufts graduate