Let’s face it: introducing a boy to the parents can be awkward and scary. If you are anything like me, you’re looking around the room for any sharp objects that your boyfriend could fall on and die or trying to make sure he does not see any of the middle school photos that your mother insists on keeping up. Maybe you are just waiting for something to be said that shouldn’t be or a conversation to be brought up that you had no interest in being brought up. Whatever the case is, introducing a boy to the parents is a struggle.
From making sure that your mother won’t bring out the baby book to making sure that your father doesn’t go to jail for aggravated assault, here are my tips for how to introduce a boy to your parents.
I don’t care what anyone says, mothers are always going to judge your boyfriend’s appearance. So from the moment he enters her house, he must look pristine. He needs to look like a respectable young man that a mother would love her daughter to date. This doesn’t mean that you have to change his entire appearance, but he does need to have matching clothes.
1. Appearances matter
For example, when I went on a first date with this guy, he insisted on picking me up from my house-where my parents were. So when it came time for our date, he showed up at my house wearing a floral shirt and a scarf that did not match. Beyond the scarf not matching, he showed up without a coat. Just the scarf over a shirt. Let’s just say my mother was not impressed. After the date, she would not stop referring to him as “scarf boy,” which is now my family’s way of addressing him in conversation.
Moral of the story: make sure your boyfriend dresses to impress his audience. If you know your mother is conservative, do not let the poor boy show up in floral print. He will be known forevermore as “floral boy” if you do that (which was consequently the runner-up name for the previously mentioned boy, according to my mother). Also, make sure that he understands that he needs to comb his hair before he shows up (I don’t know why this is sometimes a necessary reminder, but it is).
2. Warn him about things
There are certain things about every family that significant others need to be warned about. Maybe it’s the fact that your mother hates guests having shoes in the house, or maybe it’s your father’s obsession with football that goes a bit too far. Either way, your boyfriend needs to be made aware of these things in advance to keep him from falling out of grace within the first two seconds of stepping into the house.
Warn him about your mother’s pickiness in the house so that he can automatically take off his shoes and be sure to use coasters with his drinks. If I introduced a guy like that to my mom, she would be over the moon because he thought to respect her nice furniture (even though it’s older than me and probably needs to be replaced, in all honesty). Warn him about the sports your dad likes so that if there was a game the night before your boyfriend comes over (and there is always a game the night before your boyfriend comes over), he can at least know something about it so that the conversation does not fall flat within the first few sentences.
This includes things that aren’t too important, or things that could result in an all-out brawl in the dining room. Basically, if your dad is a gun-toting conservative, you probably want to advise your boyfriend to not bring up gun control. Scratch that-just avoid politics altogether.
3. Make sure that your boyfriend is comfortable
Story time! I introduced a guy to my parents over dinner one night. He came over and was super polite, and then we all sat down at the table to eat. My mom had made fajitas that night, and I had told him in advance what we were eating. For some inexplicable reason, this boy forgot to mention that he did not know how to wrap a fajita. So I spent the night wrapping this boy’s fajitas like I was his mother and trying to ignore my mother’s not so subtle chuckles as I did so. Needless to say, the boy did not stick around long.
The point is that you need to be conscious of what your boyfriend would be comfortable with when meeting your parents. Some people aren’t comfortable with having dinner because they eat like pigs (if you know they eat like a pig, just avoid dinner from the get-go). On the other hand, some people despise the idea of meeting the parents over anything but dinner. This is where communication with your partner is key to figuring out what would be best for your situation.
4. Gifts are cute….until they aren’t
In every movie where the boyfriend meets the parents, he usually brings something. These gifts can include a bottle of wine to go with dinner or flowers for the mother. These are really kind gestures that solidify that the boy is trying to make sure the family likes him, and sometimes these gestures can even get an outfit mess-up or minor error forgiven. However, I would not advise testing that theory if it can be avoided. The issue is not the idea of the gift itself. It is in the delivery of the gift.
Remember that guy that showed up for our first date in a floral shirt and scarf? As a sweet gesture, he showed up with flowers for my mother and I. What he failed to account for was these flowers being alive. So after I came home from the date (I couldn’t just cancel when he was already there), my mother was waiting for me with a big grin on her face. She then pointed to a vase on the dining room table containing the flowers that were half-dead and proceeded to laugh hysterically.
If your boyfriend wants to get a gift for your parents when he meets them, make sure it is a good one. If he buys flowers, make sure they aren’t dead. If he buys wine, make sure it is a kind that your parents would like (or tell him not to bother if your parents don’t drink). If he wants to buy dessert to go with dinner, make sure that he knows what your parents would like and is aware of any allergies. There is nothing worse than a “meet the parents” event ending in anaphylactic shock.
5. Communicate with your parents
Realistically speaking, your parents are going to try to be understanding of who you bring home, especially if you tell them that you really like this person. However, there are still things that they may do to embarrass you without realizing it (or maybe they are cruel and do realize how embarrassing it is). This includes but is not limited to: showing the baby book, telling stories of your younger years, telling the guy that you have had a crush on him for years (that is a story for another time…) or simply acting weird for no reason other than embarrassing you.
The best way to combat this is to be open with your parents and explain that you really like the boy and would like him to stay. By explaining this, most parents will keep the weirdness and childhood stories to a minimum. Parents love embarrassing their kids, but they love their kids more.
I hope that these tips and tricks help in your effort to introduce a boy to the parents over fall break or the upcoming holidays. Remember that while your parents’ opinion matters to you about the boy you’re dating, it is not the final word. Sometimes first impressions don’t go well, but that is part of life and can turn into a funny story for later on, especially if you two continue dating.