How to survive meeting the parents

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  • They're going to love you

    I don’t like to blow my own trumpet here, but I give seriously good parent. It started when I was a teenager. I could be holding a lit cigarette behind my back, but parents always seemed to think I was ‘responsible’ and ‘well-behaved.’ Friends were allowed to go on girls’ holidays if I was going. For some reason, something about me said sensible. 

    When the time came to meet my first boyfriend’s parents I was determined to make them love me. Not just to like me, but properly love me. I wanted them to refer to me as a daughter-in-law, to trust my opinion, to buy me Christmas presents. What followed was the most embarrassing charm offensive you’ve ever seen. At one point I told Mrs. Ex Boyfriend that her kitchen roll was of a ‘very high calibre.’ I think I might even have called their tap water ‘delicious.’ 
    But since then I’ve honed my craft, and I’m proud to say I’m basically the parent whisperer. The important thing to remember is that it’s really not that hard. 

    Be nice to your partner
    It’s important that your other half’s parents know that you care about them, and that you’re going to try and make them happy. At the end of the day that’s all the parents really care about. Being genuine, relaxed and gently praising their child is always going to go down well. 
    But not too nice 
    It should go without saying that making out with your boy/girlfriend in front of the parents probably won’t win them over. They definitely know that you’re sleeping together, they really don’t need a visual reminder of it. Remember, these are the people who taught your bae how to use a spoon. 
    Take their lead
    Some families take the piss out of each other as a way of bonding, and if that’s the case, join in. But if they’re not into sarcasm and teasing then your little jokes might come across as snarky and put them off you. Basically, watch and listen to how they’re behaving and then take their lead. It doesn’t matter if you’re a little quiet to start with – better to come across reserved then to go straight in and make a bad first impression. 
    Don’t put on a show
    Much as watching how they behave and emulating it is a great way to make people like you, it’s important not to put on so much of an act that you’re a different person. After all, you’re hopefully going to be together long term. You don’t want to have to spend all of your family time pretending that you’re someone else. And anyway, these people raised the person you’re falling for, if you’re well suited to your partner then chances are you’ll have something in common with the parents too.
    Be helpful
    No-one is ever going to dislike a person who rolled up their sleeves and got on with the washing up. Top tip: don’t just stand around asking if you can help, pick up a dish cloth, a peeler or a tea towel and get on with it. Just for goodness sake don’t break anything. 
    Ask and listen
    The major rule of conversation is that most people like talking about themselves, so once you work out what the parents are interested in, get them talking, listen and ask questions. You don’t have to say a huge amount for someone to think you’re incredibly charming: people remember how you made them feel far more than what you said. If you’re struggling then you can always chat about your other half – it’s the ultimate common ground. 
    Don’t worry
    Not everyone in the world is going to like you, and if they don’t then it’s just as likely to be an issue with them as with you. Meeting the parents isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but you owe it to the person you’re going out with to make an effort, and once you’ve put on a dazzling show, it’s their turn to do the same thing for your ‘rents. 

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