Meeting the parents of the person you’re dating can be nerve wracking at any age. You always want to make a good impression. What if they don’t like you? This can cause static, drive a wedge between you two, and even break you up. So it’s important to make the best impression. That doesn’t mean you have to love them. It does mean that you have to respect them and put your best foot forward when meeting them. Keep in mind that they brought forth and raised the person that you love. The most important thing you can do is learn as much as possible about them. Ask your romantic partner lots of questions about who they are, what they do, what they are like, what kind of sense of humor they have, and what kind of things that they like. You may want to bring a little gift like some dessert, a bottle of wine, or a unique gift reflecting their hobbies or interests. For instance, if they enjoy boating, bring them a little something for their boat. If they like a particular sports team, a small gift with the team’s logo on it will do just fine. The trick is to tailor it to them. It means that you took the time to find out about them, and it shows that you care. You should also know what things to avoid talking about, and what subjects they enjoy. When meeting them, be polite. Dress to impress them, but don’t go way over the top. If everyone is going to dress casually, go one step above, business casual.
If they are from a particular ethnic background or first generation immigrants, learn something about their culture. Learn a bit of their language, too, if they speak a foreign tongue. A hello or thank you in their native language will go a long way. If you can bring with you a delicacy from their cultural background, even better. Anticipate the type of questions you are going to get. They will ask you about your career or career goals, education, family background, and many other questions. Have well-honed and good sounding answers for each. Ask your romantic partner to fill you in on what has been asked in the past, or what they think the parents will ask you. Determine who your partner has brought home to meet their parents in the past and how you measure up. Don’t be late. Ten minutes early is always a good standard. Shake hands and be calm, cool and confident. Have a few little ideas on what topics to bring up and a funny little way to break the ice, like a joke or a little story you think they might enjoy. Find out what their style is. If they are very formal, be sure to reflect this. If they are laid back, don’t appear a stuffed shirt. Of course, be yourself. Just show the best side of you. Show your manners, be polite, and treat your partner well in front of them. Have a few topics in mind you’d like to bring up as conversation starters should it lag and you be engulfed in one of those uncomfortable silences. With a little preparation and some forethought, you’ll make a great impression, and your partner will love you all the more.