A guide to introducing yours and your partner's parents for the first time

These simple tips can help ensure a smooth encounter between the folks.

Marriage just isn’t between two people; in some cases, it’s between two families as well. Your parents meeting your partner’s parents for the very first time is a life-altering moment that has the potential to be a core memory, no matter if it goes good or bad. With the entire experience being as exciting as it is daunting, it’s important to create a relaxed setting, one that fosters open communication and sets the tone for a peaceful and pleasant relationship amongst the most special people in your life.

With there being more chances of things going wrong than right, here are some tips that’ll ensure the first meeting between each other’s parents is a memorable one. 

When should is meeting take place? 

This depends on two primary things. The first is the stage where you and your partner are on the same page in the relationship and are looking to take the next big step. For this, it’s best to wait until the point where you’ve established a strong and committed bond between the two and all signs point in the direction of the two of you wanting to spend the rest of your lives together. If they haven’t met your parents at all, you need to tell them everything that they need to know for this meeting to go well. It’ll give them an understanding of how to react and what to say, and they can communicate the same to their parents. Discuss the importance of the meeting and what your expectations and concerns are from it. Nothing’s going to make this meeting more fruitful than you being on the same page as your partner. 

While speaking to them, ask them if any cultural or family traditions need to be followed at the meeting. The second most important factor is the parents. How ready and available are both sets of parents? Know what they feel and have to say before making this plan. Once you all have agreed, it’s time to decide on a place and time to meet. 

Choose the right time and place

Where you go matters a lot, as it’s an indicator of how much you pay attention to what your partner is saying about their parents and how much of it you consider. India is a land of many cultures and religions, and it’s important to factor in how conservative or traditional one is, even when it comes to food. You do not want this meeting to happen at a place known for its seafood just because you and your family love it, knowing that your partner and their parents are strict vegetarians. This is why selecting something neutral, for example, a buffet that offers something for everyone, makes the most sense. As far as the time is concerned, consider one where everyone can have a free-flowing and easy-going conversation without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. 

Prepare your parents by sharing information 

If you’re worried or nervous about how this meeting is going to pan out, don’t forget that there’s a good chance that your parents are feeling the same way. With them wanting the best for you, they could be overthinking about the best ways to make an impression. It’s best to ease their worries by letting them in on the basic information about your partner’s parents, such as their names, what they do for work, and their hobbies, and looking for any common interests that become a good conversation starter. This fosters a good impression in everyone’s mind and makes the chat more enjoyable for everyone. 

What you definitely shouldn’t do is share sensitive information about them without the consent of your partner (and/or their parents). As mentioned earlier, they must know about any cultural or even generational differences so that they aren’t left in the dark and end up saying and doing something that hurts the other side. Meeting someone for the very first time should make your parents curious about knowing the family that their child plans to get married into and have them show genuine interest by asking questions that give them clarity. What you can do to make the conversation lighter is introduce the parents individually compared to doing so in a group. This way, the interactions become much more personal and purposeful. 

What should happen at this meeting

You can make the parents speak (even to each other) by asking questions and actively listening to them. You may be a good listener, but everyone present for this eventful meeting should practice active listening, not just for this conversation but with the most important people in your life. Reflecting on what someone here is saying and how they feel, and above all, responding with understanding and empathy, are crucial if you want this meeting to go well. This goes for the kids as well as the parents. Doing so is only going to foster a sense of inclusivity and make everyone feel valued and heard. While we did touch upon the importance of finding common topics to speak on, there will be sensitive topics that should be off-limits (important family matters, discussing politics, etc.). Do realise and recognise the fact that everyone has different comfort levels and boundaries that must be respected. 

With it taking nothing to be kind at this meeting, do your best to express gratitude to not just their parents, but yours too, and acknowledge their role and efforts they made to be here. A simple thank you or compliment makes a huge difference. Appreciate the advice or guidance that your partner’s parents share, along with thanking them for raising such an amazing partner. 

Decide who's paying ahead of time

If it’s a meeting that’s seeing you pull out all the stops to make everyone feel special, who foots the bill is something that should be discussed between you and your partner. The last thing you’d want is seconds of awkward silence when the bill is just placed on the table. Don’t expect or let your parents pay the bill at any cost, and just split things if you want. If the entire ‘let me pay, let me pay’ thing is going to lead nowhere, a simple solution is to have this meeting in the form of a picnic, lunch, or dinner at the house of one partner. 

Also read: Signs it’s time to take your relationship to the next level

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