Let’s face it. Your boyfriend‘s mom has never been crazy about you — or any of his past girlfriends for that matter. No matter how hard you try to impress her, you always end up insulting her cooking or letting slip some intimate detail of your sex life with her baby boy (what’s wrong with you?).
Never fear, parent patrol is here. No matter where you are in your relationship with him, it always works in your favor to get in good with the ‘rents. Take notes, because these little tips could make all the difference between your boyfriend‘s folks and your future in-laws.
Image by Flickr user wakefielddavid
Ask your boyfriend about his family. He may be clamming up for fear of ruining that persona of sultry mystery he thinks he has going (because we all know how well that is working for him), but continue to press for small details. This way, you’re armed with conversation starters. What is more awkward than sitting in painful silence for 20 minutes with a couple strangers? Instead of blurting out, “So, I’m the girl sleeping with your son!” you can say, “So, Mr. Smith. I heard you are an excellent underwater basket weaver. That is my all-time favorite sport!”
Also, explore your expectations and goals for the visit. Take baby steps. Get through the visit and make a good impression without trying to push your agenda. Avoid opening with, “Tell me, Mrs. Smith, what’s wrong with your son? He refuses to give me a key to his apartment.” Or “When do you think I can expect a ring?” Don’t be that girl. No one likes that girl.
Pro tip: Ask him what topics to avoid. There’s no worse way to screw up the first meeting than by asking about a touchy subject.
For the Holidays
Holidays aren’t just for yelling and heavy drinking, they’re for family traditions! His mom may think that your presence in his life spells the end of their family caroling, Thanksgiving flag football or other eye-rolling family traditions. If you’re heading to his home for some family time, ask about their family traditions while you plan and pack. Then show her you’re willing to embrace their quirks by participating in the tradition, even if you think it’s weird.
If you really want to butter them up, bring a housewarming gift. If you’re crafty, make something nauseatingly sweet and thoughtful. Otherwise, purchase something small and cheery, such as a candle, boxed chocolates or a bottle of wine. Make it a case of wine if you’re really nervous.
Pro tip: Ask about allergies and dietary preferences. If his family keeps kosher or avoids gluten, you’ll look like a heel if you show up with a non-kosher or flour-filled cake.
If you two live across the country from his family, congratulations! But seriously, you still need to make an effort to get to know them. Maybe he set up a Skype date for you and his folks? Nothing’s more awkward, but it has to be done to break down that first wall.
Image by Flickr user Barry Silver
While this could forestall any disapproval from his family, it also lets them develop a first impression of you sight unseen — one that could be hard to change down the road. We all know how much easier it is to judge someone we haven’t met face-to-face.
Make that first impression a good one by sending his parents birthday cards, FTD birthday gift baskets, Mother’s and Father’s Day cards or other gifts. Gift baskets are great because you can send something quickly and select from pre-packaged ideas that cater to every interest. If he can’t remember these special occasions, get the dates and schedule reminders in your phone so the two of you remember.
Pro tip: Ask him to put his family on speaker phone when they talk, so the two of you can tell them what’s new together. This helps the fussy mom and dad get accustomed to your presence and come to know you and eventually like you — or at least tolerate you as part of their son’s life.
While you may not have his folks jumping for joy over your relationship, you can alleviate some of their worries. You’ll also show your boyfriend that you’ve done everything you can to help his folks relax and earn bonus points as the best girl ever for not bailing on him because of something that’s out of his control.
Author: Karen Little
Karen is a merchandising specialist for a large distribution business. She studies trends in the business world and writes about it whenever she can.