We’ve all heard the story. Jane loves Joe. Jane takes Joe home to meet her parents. Jane’s parents are not impressed. Jane thought she loved Joe. However, now all Jane can think about is Joe’s interesting fashion sense and his unfocused career. Joe doesn’t understand what went wrong. Jane wishes her parents could see what she sees.
Maybe they can. While first impressions are important, they certainly aren’t everything. Just because the first dinner out with the folks didn’t go so well doesn’t mean the second can’t turn things around. Guys, we know you are enthusiastic. What you need to do is figure out where to focus that energy. Ladies, you want complete control over this situation too bad. But if you loosen up a little and talk-up your guy, your folks may spend a little less criticizing and a little more time observing. Here are some real practical tips for how to make round two a success.
Advice for the guys:
Make eye-contact. We know you can do it. You can hold quite a stare when you’re looking into her pretty blue eyes. That probably means you can glance at mom once in a while, to show her you are listening. This will also help you track with the conversation topics that will undoubtedly be coming at you fast. But don’t forget about dad. He has it in his head that avoidance equals guilt. Look him the eye and show him that you are confident and that you are sticking around.
Give a firm handshake. If you fail to do this, there is no hope for you.
Listen and ask questions. Listening can earn you a lot of points with anyone, especially parents. However it isn’t enough just to listen you must also show that you are listening. This will require some non-verbal feedback such as nodding your head, changing your facial expression from time to time and, as previously mentioned, making eye-contact. Listening will show that you are interested in them, not just their daughter. Asking questions will also show your interest. Think about it; when someone asks you a question, your immediate thought is, they want to know the answer, which means, they want to know me. Asking considerate questions will not only flatter her parents, it will create an immediate connection. But what questions should you ask?
Girlfriend knows best. She knows her parents better than anyone. Be humble enough to ask her for some tips before visiting ma and pop’s house. Maybe her parents hate when people talk about work during dinner. Maybe their pet peeve is elbows-on-the-table. Maybe they love to talk about their vacation home in Colorado. This is not the time to flex your muscles and tell your girlfriend that the situation is under control. You need her help. So ask for it.
Advice for the ladies:
Don’t tell your folks about the fights. When things are going great with your guy, you are out together enjoying your relationship. But when things are rocky, your first inclination is to reach for the phone. It’s great that you are close with your mom, but calling her right after you and your boyfriend have had an argument is not the way to go. The truth is your parents will remember those fights long after you have forgotten them. You may not realize that mom and dad are only hearing the negatives about your relationship. They don’t know that he surprised you with flowers at work last week. They don’t know that he makes you laugh ’til that you cry. They only know what you tell them. What is it that you are telling them?
Let your love show. You should be telling your parents about the good stuff. All they want is for their little girl to be happy. Show them how happy you are by not being afraid to gush about your guy. Your dad may roll his eyes, but he is looking for signs that his princess is bring treated right. Your mom wants you to be with someone who appreciates how wonderful you are. Tell her about the sweet things he has done for you lately.
Don’t nag! If you boss your boyfriend around and make him feel like a hopeless dope before the big dinner date, chances are he will not be at his best. Instead, build him up. Tell him to be confident and act like himself. After all, that is the person you are falling for, right?
Tell your future mother-in-law a secret. When it comes to meeting his mother, some good old-fashioned secret-swapping will do the trick. People feel important when they are confided in. Tell mom something sweet her son did for you. Tell her about a special moment in your relationship. Better yet, tell her something you haven’t even told him yet. And make sure to thank her for raising her son right, a line you will need to memorize.
Try some of these tips. But most of all make sure to relax and not over-think it. You’re going to do fine.