When you think about meeting your date’s parents, you might be haunted by images of Greg Focker accidentally losing his girlfriend’s family pet cat, Jinxie, and burning her sister’s wedding altar to a crisp in the 2000 movie “Meet the Parents.” Watching characters in those impossible, awkward and uncomfortable situations is amusing, but when those situations might happen to you, it’s a whole different story. Meeting the parents can be a very scary, nerve-racking experience. Their opinion matters a lot, and they have a pretty big influence on your date’s thoughts and decisions. What if they don’t like you? What if you do something embarrassing?
Parents can tell when you act how you think they want you to.
It’s normal to be nervous about spending time with your date’s parents. But parents actually aren’t looking for your flaws or trying to judge you. They just want to get to know you and find out what kind of a person their son will be with that evening. Even though it seems hard, making a good impression can be easy; just be thoughtful, plan ahead and act natural.
People love to talk about themselves; it’s the only subject where they always have the right answers. Asking questions is a great way to break the ice, because it takes the focus off of you and shows the parents that you care about something other than yourself. Ask them about their jobs, activities they like to do in their spare time and how they gained interest in their hobbies. If it’s prom night when you meet them, you could ask them what their prom was like and what they wore. You’ll probably bring up some good memories—and maybe some funny stories!
You might think that bringing gifts to the parents seems like a way of buying their approval, but really it shows them that you’re thoughtful and you know how to plan ahead. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on the gifts. Try simply bringing a “Nice to Meet You” card. Cards are easy to make; just add one of your favorite quotes to thoughtfully decorated craft paper. Or, you can swing by a local grocery store and pick up some inexpensive flowers. Try to bring an interesting gift that might spark up a conversation.
You’ve probably heard the age-old advice “Just be yourself” more times than you can count. But there’s a reason why the advice has held so strong over the years: it works. Parents can tell when you act how you think they want you to, which can make them see you as fake or deceitful — exactly how you don’t want them to see you. When you’re not trying to be someone other than yourself, you aren’t as stressed out and can be natural and comfortable when you talk with the parents.