First of all, the fact that you have actually bothered scouring the Internet for these trustful tips tells me one thing – you’re desperate. Which leads me on to my next point; I am but sixteen years of age and have no experience in these matters. Regardless of this needless background info, you’re here now so you might as well read on.
Step 1: Appearance
No matter how long you’ve spent practising your ‘this, that, these and those’, perfect speech will not cover up, well, whatever you’ve forgotten to cover up. I’m not suggesting you go all Muslim on them but remember, respect comes in all forms; even appearance. Make sure to show flashes of your personality – you can’t go wrong with bracelets or a necklace. Maybe the best way to approach this is to imagine what you would be comfortable wearing in front of your grandparents. Got it? Now go with that.
Step 2: Mind Your Manners
Yes, we’re going back to basics here. You’d be surprised the amount of people that get so flustered they forget their “please and thank you”s. However, it’s not just as straightforward as remembering. You may have been polite, but who would want to pass gravy to the face of a dried prune. Understandably you’ll be nervous, but by God don’t let it affect your facial expressions. Also, if the steak doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t announce your vegetarianism. You will get caught out and it will be awkward.
Step 3: Avoid Conversation Vices
These vices fall under two fairly obvious categories: politics and religion. Perhaps picking your partner’s brain on the way might give you an idea of some sensitive areas; otherwise you’ll have to be on full alert. Look for clues – does the Fine Gael banner across the house suggest anything? If so, avoid sharing your opinion on this subject as much as possible. Unless you agree, obviously. Some people simply can’t hold back their feelings on the topic. Such as my grandfather, who once announced the entire government, and I quote, should be assassinated. Thankfully we’re used to him. Your possible future in-laws, however, may not be as tolerant.
Step 4: PDAs Are a No-Go
By this I mean public displays of affection. Just don’t. Parents will not want to see their baby getting all touchy-feely with a stranger. Focus. Today is about showing your interest in them; not their child. If you do decide the timing is right to go for a quick peck, don’t be surprised if you’re given the other cheek. What child is comfortable having a snog while their parents sit opposite, sipping tea? Take the hint and back off. The last thing you want is to give the impression you’re clingy and needy.
Step 5: Don’t Evaluate Your Performance
If you feel like things could’ve gone better, don’t beat yourself up over it. First impressions aren’t the be-all and end-all. Big deal if you tripped over a plant pot or drove over the cat’s tail; it’ll be something to laugh about in the future.
These are only a number of survival tips that should hopefully get you through round one of meeting the parents. Keep all of these well in mind as you delve into these depths of the unknown – they will be your armbands, or even your lifeboat. Should they fail you, however, I can take no responsibility. After all, you were the one that decided to take a sixteen year old’s advice. Good luck.