What To Do When It Is Time to ‘Meet The Parents’

“I think it is time to meet my parents…” You probably haven’t felt that nervous, pit-of-your-stomach, pressured feeling since your partner agreed to start the relationship.  The inevitable, with any long term relationship at least, has happened.  Meeting Mom and Dad is in your near future.  Here’s how to deal:

Let’s work from the outside in.  This may be a little shallow, but first impressions are important and it is vital that you make a positive one if you want any chance of continuing the relationship or taking it to that next step.

A couple of senior guys I ran into at California State University of Monterey Bay agree it would be a good idea to wash your car as it may be the first thing they see upon arrival.  The type of car does not matter, and if it does, are these really people you want to surround yourself with?  Showing that you have good habits and value your things is important.  If you don’t value your possessions and can’t take care of your car, how will his/her parents think you will treat their son/daughter?

It is probably a good idea to dress nice to meet the girl’s/guy’s parents.  “A collared shirt doesn’t hurt,” another Senior student from Cal State Monterey says.  “No sunglasses, no hat.  And don’t put your sunglasses on the top of your head like this guy,” one of them say as he points to his friend.  The friend adds, “dress clean.  No ripped jeans, no ripped up shoes.”

Greg Kelley, 20, a resident of Toms River, NJ suggests, “I would wear something like Khaki pants with a nice button down and crew cut sweater, casual.”

James Pinelli, a sophomore at Purdue University agrees you should “make sure you look good.”  To him, that means nice jeans and a polo.

Andrew English, a junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey says to “look good, but not too good” as you don’t want to come off as a suck up.

There are definitely behavior guidelines to follow when meeting a partner’s parents.  The absolute first interaction you will have with the parents is the greeting aka the handshake. “The handshake is the most important [part],” says Devin Johnson, a junior at Cal State Monterey.  “Look the father dead in the eye and give him a firm handshake.  Politely shake the mom’s hand. You have to show you care.”

English has some specific advice in dealing with the father’s handshake: “Let the father know he’s boss but that you’re not weak so give him a firm [handshake] but let him have the better firmer shake.”

Cat Skelton, a freshman at University of Minnesota gives a woman’s perspective on a guy dealing with a mom: “you should turn her hand and place your left hand on top of hers.”

Next comes the conversation.  A Grad student from Brown University advises to prepare and “do your homework ahead of time.  Find out the dad’s sports interests as well as an area of interest of the mom.  Conversation is key.”

Tony Zakarian, 25, a resident of Ridgefield, NJ agrees to prepare by buying the mom flowers.

Before the conversation actually begins, Santiago Quintero, a junior at Cal State Monterey comments: “My advice would be to speak up and maintain conversation with an animated voice.  Parents will not be impressed with a shy, monotone voice boyfriend.”

Don’t forget your manners.  Tyler Machado and Markus McMahon both juniors at Cal State Monterey agree to pose good demeanor and please and thank you’s go a long way.  Yes mam and yes sir should also be a part of your vocabulary.  Not cussing is a good idea.  Also spark an intellectual conversation, “show him you have a brain,” says one senior from Cal State Monterey.

Everyone I have talked to, guys and girls alike, agree that it is important to be polite and nice but do not overdo it and try too hard.  This is a fine line to balance.

Zak Coffey, another senior at Cal State Monterey advises, “I think people will probably say something along the lines of “be yourself,” but I think that it’s perfectly fine to be better than yourself for a little while.”

Understanding where you fit in and where your place is a good idea to have when meeting The Parents.

Coffey says, “I would probably say it is important to figure out the girlfriend’s families dynamics.  Then figure out where you fit in.  So sometimes it’s acting really familiar, and sometimes it’s all about acting really well composed.”  Thus, analyzing the situation and adjusting from there is a good skill to have in your pocket.

Understanding family dynamics is something Casey Berg, a junior at Rutgers University agrees is a major aspect: “make sure they know that you want to get to know the whole family.  Cook a family meal for everyone, show that you can provide for a family in more ways than just money.”

Once acquainted with the family, going above and beyond and acting as if an extended family member is perfectly normal. “Being sincere, always being stuff for the family when I visit, obeying their rules, helping the family with chores or lawn work,” says Brian DLG Salas, a junior at University of Guam.

Jake Panchito Rosas, a freshman at Bergen County College says, “be respectful and honest.  [You] can never go wrong with that.”


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