When you’re dating someone you really like, it’s important that you get along with your special someone’s family. Let’s face it, things tend to go a whole lot more smoothly when the parents like you.
Of course, there are some crazy families out there. No matter what you do, you may never be able to please them. But for the majority of sane parents, here are a few simple things you can do to ensure a good first impression.
1. Don’t show up empty handed.
This tip is especially important if you are meeting the parents on their turf. If you’re invited to dinner, bring flowers or a bottle of wine. (If you choose wine, find out if they do or don’t imbibe in alcohol first.) Or put your baker’s hat on and whip up some fresh baked cookies or another dessert.
2. Be polite.
On the first meeting, address your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s parents as “Mrs.” and / or “Mr.” Yes, that sounds like we’re trapped in 1954, but it shows respect. It also gives the parent the option to say, “Oh, just call me by my first name.”
Continue the old school treatment by consistently saying, “please” and “thank you.” Good manners never get old.
3. Do your research beforehand.
Ask the person you’re involved with about his or her parents. Find out if they have any hobbies and what interests them. That way you’ll be prepared to converse with them.
4. Ask questions.
If you learn that your girlfriend’s father used to be a volunteer firefighter, you might say, “Amy tells me you were a firefighter. You must be really brave. What was that like?”
Or if your boyfriend’s mother loves to write, you might say, “I heard you wrote a book. That’s amazing. What was the process like?”
Notice how a compliment is tucked into each question? Sandwiching a sincere compliment with an open-ended question will show your interest and make the parents feel important.
5. Demonstrate positive body language.
By making eye contact, sitting up straight and being sure not to cross your arms over your chest, you will show active interest in the situation. If you slump or stare at the ceiling, you’re sure to come off in a negative light.
6. Turn your gadgets off.
Before you enter your meeting place, turn off your cell phone, ipad or any other electronic devices you may have around you. Playing with gadgets is disrespectful. It shows you don’t care about your significant other’s parents or their time. And it doesn’t matter if your boss, your mother or Publisher’s Clearinghouse is calling – do NOT answer your phone on their time.
7. Thank them for meeting with you.
It takes an effort to plan, show up and spend time together. Show your girlfriend or boyfriend’s parents that you appreciate the effort that went into getting together. You might say something like, “I know you’re very busy. I just want to thank you for taking the time to meet me. I really appreciate it.”
Then keep it up. As your relationship progresses, continue to be polite and kind every step of the way!