Stress 101: Meeting the Parents

Meeting the Parents: How to Avoid StressWhen it comes to stressful situations, nothing is more fraught with danger than dismantling a bomb.

Oh wait, there is one thing: Meeting the parents for the very first time.

You want, nay, crave their approval, because even if you have no intention of becoming the future son- or daughter-in-law, you know they’re an important enough influence in your significant other’s life to make your life tough should you get on their bad side.

So the importance of this introductory meeting can’t be overstated: First impressions are crucial — especially if her father owns a shotgun.

Ha! I’m kidding… maybe.

But the way to her Daddy’s heart is not to brag about how great a lay his daughter is…or letting Mommy Dearest know that her son’s biggest asset is his bank account. Don’t laugh — you’d be amazed at the number of tactless individuals that have been banished for such lack of judgment.

What are some of these completely avoidable faux pas? John Townsend*, a government worker in Ontario’s Niagara Region, says he hasn’t been impressed with any the 30 (!) girlfriends his 20-year-old son Bill has brought home in the last couple of years. (Bill is a musician, hence the vaulted chick quotient).

“They were the most annoying, ill-mannered trollops I have ever met,” reports Townsend. “I didn’t like a single one of them. They were brash, mouthy, bossy little things with no sense of propriety at all.”

Just in case you’re wondering if Townsend is a bit of a mountain goat when it comes to approving potential girlfriend, he has nothing but praises for the choices of his other son, Cain, 18.

“Cain’s girlfriends have been very pleasant, well-mannered and polite,” he says. “They have been a total pleasure to have over for dinner or just hang around.

“Cain is very discriminating in his tastes,” Townsend adds.

Getting into more particulars, Townsend says there’s a big difference between the girls he approves and the ones he doesn’t.

“The annoying ones talk back, question house rules, ignore my questions, use foul language and dress like street walkers.

“The well-mannered ones engage in conversation, call me Mr. Townsend, give me more than one-word answers, avoid dressing like they want to date me, smile and treat my son with respect.”

Never underestimate the impact of the impression you make on a parent.

“This is my kid she’s involved with, so she’d better get a sense that I give a damn who she is,” Townsend emphasizes.

For guys visiting their girlfriend’s folks, putting the moves on Mom would tend to be one sure way of overstepping your welcome. Others might be copping ‘tude; dressing like a garage or basement rock star and showing up drunk, stoned or a combination thereof.

So here are some survival tips that may not ensure a follow up invitation but should ward off the worst of parental wrath.

  1. Walk on eggshells: Be very sensitive to your surroundings, to the point where you may actually want to listen a lot more than you speak. Hopefully your newfound girlfriend/boyfriend has already given you the 4-1-1 on the parents, along with some dos and don’ts. But if this special talk hasn’t happened, tread carefully and avoid ALL talk concerning religion.
  2. Bring a gift: You don’t have to be extravagant here — a bouquet of flowers or bottle of wine to acknowledge your date’s parents’ hospitality. You may even want to make the gift a little more personal assuming that the child knows his/her folks’ likes and dislikes. A bag of weed is inappropriate
  3. Like George Foreman, prepared to be grilled: While all parents will want to know your intentions towards their prince or princess, it really depends on the person as to just how thoroughly you’ll get the third degree. Be prepared to answer the usual questions: What do you do for a living? What about those Maple Leafs? Do you have any communicable STDs?
  4. Offer a firm handshake and look them in the eyes: This goes for both guys and girls. No snapping wristlocks and other WWE moves until after you get to know them a bit.
  5. Dress conservatively: No revealing outfits showing excessive cleavage (this goes for you too, ladies) and definitely wear pants. Make sure you have showered and bathed. You don’t want to remind the parents you were there two hours after you’ve left.

Ladies, whatever you do, don’t even try to compete with Mom in the kitchen, although lending a helping hand for clean-up and dishes will definitely win you much coveted Brownie points.

And guys, whatever you do, don’t even broach the topic of romance or the “s” word with Pops. And don’t engage him in an argument about certain topics that he’s trying to goad you into.

Be gracious, confident and yourself and, before you know it, you’ll have Mama and Papa’s most heartfelt blessings and be wholeheartedly welcomed into the family.

Or at the very least, their living room.

* Names changed to protect privacy

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