Congratulations. You’ve fooled some poor girl into thinking you’re good enough to take home to Mom and Dad! You’re not sure what she sees in you, but whatever it is, she wants to show Mom and Dad. You should be proud of yourself, as that’s the next big step in your still new relationship. This is much bigger than you think. She’s showing you off to two of the most important people in her life. Screw this up, and if it doesn’t end shortly after, it will be awkward for a while. Any good girl will know to brief you of important details, such as “What ever you do, don’t talk about Republican fiscal policy with Dad” or “Mom really hates it when people wear shoes on her new living room rug”. What she won’t tell you is the more important information. She won’t tell you what she’s already told them of you. She won’t tell you how much weight she will place on your initial confrontations with them. She won’t tell you how attractive it is for you to be laid back and knock this confrontation out of the park. You will need to address each parent separately, and together. I’ve got a few things that have worked well for me in the past. So well in fact, that I maintained good relationships with their parents far after the relationship was over.
We’ll start with Mom. Mom, in my opinion is the easier parent to win over. Mom’s excited that little Suzy has found someone who makes her happy, and will only see the positives as even more awesome than they probably really are. “Oh Suzy, he is such a gentleman. He calls me ma’am, and complimented my broach, and looked me in the eyes when he spoke to me, and he fixed his hair really nice, and he smells nice” blah blah blah. That was a joke, but it does carry an important point:
1. Be Polite
I can’t stress this enough. Literally everyone loves someone who is polite. If you like Mom’s cooking, tell her. “Mrs. Suzy’s mom, your potato casserole is among the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. I hope you don’t mind me getting that recipe.” It’s really as simple as that. Throw in a cheesy (ha, food puns) smile and solid eye contact and you have just charmed Mom. “Mrs. Suzy’s mom, I love this furniture. It contrasts so nicely with the dark wooden floors.” The key to it is throwing out that compliment with confidence that is genuine. It also shows that you notice the little things and are observant. When she addresses you, you refer to her as ma’am. When you address her, you refer to her as “Mrs. [Last Name}” until she gives you the ol’ “Oh please, call me Susan.” Then you call her Susan. A pro tip to go the extra mile, refer to her daughter as ma’am while there. I naturally call every woman I meet ma’am. It’s just a habit I guess, but I have noticed that everyone likes it. Women my own age (22) even like it. It will convey that you respect her daughter. You should be respecting their daughter anyway, but you want to make sure that they know that you are doing so. This is the icing on the cake for your charming persona as far as Mom can see.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Your Hands Dirty
Being helpful around the home says a lot about the type of man you are. No woman wants a lazy man, and no woman wants a lazy man for their daughter either. Is her mother trying to put away a heavy box of decorations? Stop her and offer your assistance. You don’t want her to hurt herself, or, gasp, break the decorations! It’s also likely in that particular instance that she’s testing you. She knows you are coming over and she hasn’t gotten Mr. Suzy’s dad to put those up already? She’s probably checking to see if you are at least willing to help. Pass that test with flying colors. If you are meeting her parents over dinner at their home, offer to do the dishes. Actually, don’t offer, just do them. Her mom has slaved over a meal for the two of you and the last thing she should have to do are dishes. Roll up your sleeves and get to scrubbing. Do it with a smile. You should appreciate a meal and have no problem doing those dishes with a smile. Guess what? Not only have you been selfless and polite in doing this, you have just shown Mom that you know how to do housework. That lets her know that her precious baby won’t have to do it alone.
Now that Mom is busy whispering to little Suzy how amazing you are, let’s focus on Dad. Dad should be your area of expertise, as you are both men. You think alike, have similar interests most likely, and you both know these things. Dad will be less receptive to some new man in his house. Where Mom was happy for little Suzy, Dad will be logical. Mom will take care of the emotional, Dad the logical. Mom sees you as a blessing, Dad sees you as a threat. I mean, that’s his baby girl you’re swooning. So, how can you win Dad over to your side? Throw your pride away and be genuine. Let’s take a look at this, shall we?
1. Be A Genuine Gentleman
Wait, didn’t we just go over this with Mom? Yes, but Dad can see right through you, whereas Mom is just so enthralled that you called her ma’am and complimented her furniture five seconds after entering the house. Dad’s not that easy, because he’s been in your position before. He remembers swooning Suzy’s mother and all that took. He’s not going to be easy, but you can win him over. When you walk into his house, you introduce yourself and extend your hand, don’t make him do it. Don’t wait to be introduced. Show some enthusiasm and go get it. Tone down your smile a bit for dad, and grip his hand firm and look him in the eye when you shake his hand. Dad will see right through a cheesy grin. Call him sir, or “Mr. [Last Name]” until he gives you the ol’ “Oh no just call me Bill”. Then you call him Bill. Don’t act like you own the place. Don’t go waltzing in there and touching everything. It’s not yours. If you notice a nice buck hanging on the wall, compliment him on the rack, but don’t touch it. Another good way to stand apart, is to speak to him like he’s a respected man and not an equal or a superior. Flattery will get you nowhere with Dad and neither will calling him ‘Dude’. When you speak to him, speak from your chest so as to make your voice project deeply and carry some weight. Don’t speak softly, because Dad doesn’t want his baby girl to date a softy. Nobody wants that. This is the number two thing Dad will notice. The number one thing Dad will notice is how you treat little Suzy in his presence. If you can’t treat her right in his presence, what would lead him to believe you are doing so outside of his presence? She is ma’am or little Suzy while the two of you are there. Don’t call her baby. Sweetie is okay, but any other more personal terms are to be left somewhere else. Treat her in front of Dad as you treat her elsewhere, like a gentleman. You shouldn’t have to hide anything.
2. Probe, Not Be Probed
Dad is a lot older and wiser than you. He knows this, and you should, too. This means that you should listen to what he is telling you with genuine interest. The man could teach you a thing or two even a few hours after meeting him. This could range from simple tips to full blown stories about life. If you’re lucky, he’ll share some information about his daughter that could help you in your relationship. If you are observant, you will know what Dad does for a living, or in what he takes interest. Ask him about his job. What does he do? What lead him to that field? Ask him about his hobbies. What kind of golf clubs does he own? Where does he like to travel? If he likes Europe, ask him what he thinks of the Scottish Highlands. What I’m getting at is that you need to be interested in what he’s saying. Probing him with detailed questions is a sure fire way to let him know. You should be listening more than speaking. This is especially good because the more you probe him, the less he probes you. Every man wants to share his hobbies and interests with another, so let him share his with you. Everyone wants to make conversations about themselves, so let him make the conversations about himself. After all, you are at his house, swooning his daughter, eating his food. You owe it to the man.
Meeting the parents is the next big step in a relationship. The way you handle that situation will show little Suzy what type of man you are and what you bring to the table. If you don’t respect her parents and show interest, she’s going to assume that you will do the same to her. She will never tell you how important it was that you did the dishes after dinner. You were likely the first man to do that, and that makes you stand out in the best way. When you leave, hug Mom and thank her for introducing you to the gastric bliss that was her potato casserole, and shake Dad’s hand and thank him for opening his home to the two of you. Remember, you’re not just making an impression on Mom and Dad, but Suzy as well. Make it count. You want as much positive reinforcement in her life as possible. If Mom and Dad are constantly talking about how great of an impression you made, she notices that. That sure makes things easier on your end, doesn’t it?