t is time to meet the parents. This previous sentence often sets an alarm in the mind that is enough for your heart to flutter, mind to think of crazy scenarios, and for your palms to clam up. Let’s face it, meeting the parents is a lot of pressure. But it is a worthwhile step towards the future with your partner. It can have you going down the rabbit hole of questioning what to wear, how to make a good first impression, and rehearsing what to say. That will lead to you freaking out undoubtedly. The tip to not cracking under pressure is by being your genuine self, showing confidence in yourself and your relationship, and most of all, not overthinking it. We know that last one is hard, but we don’t want you to crack under pressure. Let the pressure produce diamonds (if marriage is the goal, this could be quite literally).
One of the best forms of advice that we can give you is based on job listing description: talent will give you the interview, chemistry will give you the job. We are not here to talk about job landing, but you already made it with your partner (seriously, you went through the countless dates, found common interests, found out you both sound good on paper). How to make it last and ace the step of meeting the parents is through chemistry not cozying up too much, over complimenting the parents, listing off your accomplisments, or answering all these random questions about your partner. Parents just want to see their child happy and not compromising their values.
We will guide you through meeting the parents. Here are some of the following steps to guide you through this important step:
- How to Make a Great First Impression
- Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin With the Parents Around
- How to be Respectful and Advocate for Yourself and Your Relationship
Impress at the First Impression
Formative Decisions to Shape the Parents’ Perception
There are no do overs for the first impression, but do not let that scare you. What we suggest is that you breathe through it, have a friendly disposition, ask questions, and be yourself. Show your awesome personality by having an idea about what you want to discuss with the parents. Stay away from stressful topics like jobs and finances but take a value-based approach to learn about their passions and traditions. Here is a list of appropriate questions to ask. Part of the first impression is the visual cues, what you say, and how you smell even. Make sure to put in that tic-tac, put on good deodorant, dress nice, and greet them with hello.
We get that this is one of the hardest meet and greets of your life. In your eyes it may rank higher than a job interview, but make sure you look nice, sound nice, and are comfortable. It will effectively shoot down the suspecting and judgy perceptions of the parents. Truth be told, parents are sometimes on the defense mood with their child or super doting if they are the opposite. Put yourself in their shoes and that may take the pressure off you but realize the pressure that is on them.
Navigate This Test of Your Relationship With Your Partner
Being Comfortable in Yourself and Your Relationship
The movie Guess Who is the perfect example for this concept because it is about a young couple navigating an interracial relationship and the partner goes to his girlfriend’s house to meet her parents. This brings on a slew of issues of the Simon Green, the actor Ashton Kutcher, to prove himself to his hopefully prospective father-in-law Percy Jones (Bernie Mac). He makes crucial missteps in doing that like telling jokes about being in an interracial relationship, lying about crucial things, and succumbing to the pressure of this situation.
This movie reminds us that when faced with these situations that we need to invest in the actual relationship because without that being strong it can break due to small missteps in this process. Also, be your authentic self in every situation. For instance, if you have a sense of humor, do not be too serious all the time. This is one of things that got your partner to fall in love with you and it can be helpful to show your real character traits to avoid problems later.
Some ways to be yourself and show that to the parents are the following:
- Have great banter with your partner in how you normally would. Parents are trying to figure out that you really care about their child and your relationship dynamic. Do not be afraid to let that show. Obviously, do not cuss too much, be vulgar in front of the parents, or yell at each other.
- Do not get drunk for liquid courage to get through this or take drugs because that will cause you not to be your true self. We know that this is hard but you got this even without other influences.
- Abide by the parent’s rules about intimacy with your partner. It will show that you are a respectable and honest person.
- If talking about yourself is hard for you, try to come up with some conversation starters before going to meet the parents. Also, if you have areas you feel vulnerable about make sure that you think about how to frame it because they may ask you about these things.
- Check your body language. Make sure that it is reflecting what you want to project. For instance, open your palms, uncross your arms, and do not shrink back but lean in and look engaged.
‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find Out What That Means To Me’
Advocating for Yourself During Conflict
When you get people together, conflict is inevitable in some way. It can be a small argument or a larger production. There are two types of conflicts--ones that are bound to happen because of different personalities and the other type is a category of avoidable faults. The key to navigating meeting the parents is deciding how you want to handle situations when they arise. Remember that your loyalty is first to yourself and then to your partner. Therefore, when situations arise handle these occasions like an adult meaning say that I felt that you (fill in the blank) because of (the situation). Respectfully communicate your point of view and keep in mind how your partner is feeling.
The subcategories of this category are airing out your relationship’s dirty laundry and developing harmful defense mechanisms. In the avoidable forms of conflict, they can occur because of perpetual lying and secrecy (take the movies Jump The Broom and Act Like You Love Me). The premise of both movies emerge from lies and these only come to hurt people in the end. Also, unfortunately, real life does not always have that perfect Rom-Com ending--that is why it is super important not to create conflict in this already volatile situation.
The defense mechanisms that are toxic can sneak up on you because of the pressure of this situation. One of the biggest mistakes that people make by preparing for conflict is to get someone before they get got. That sounds like a tongue twister, right? Imagine doing that irrational behavior. It is important to not be offensive on purpose. Parents will see right through this insecurity and it may make things very ugly.
Rewarding Step In Your Relationship
There is so much pressure on meeting the parents because of how serious this step is. Meeting the parents signals that you are moving forward in your relationship. That is scary and stressful, yet exciting. Meeting the parents can bond a couple closer together and allow them to take the next step of marriage, moving in together, or whatever that step is for you in your relationship. The reward is far greater than the test. Keep this in mind and maintain this perspective because it will get you through. Also, your why is your partner. There is no greater way to show your love and solidify your intimacy like bearing a hard situation for your partner and allowing their family to get on board.
Hero image courtesy of Escape.