To meet and get along with a friend's parents can be an intimidating challenge—especially when you show up at the door to take their son or daughter out for dinner. After all, they may see their child, not so much as a young adult, but still their little baby barely able to walk. Naturally, their instinct is to protect their child from bad influences. However, if you make a good impression, eventually you will find that not only are they comfortable with you dating their son or daughter, they may actually encourage him or her to spend more time with you because of the Christian example you provide.
Whether you're male or female, friends or engaged to be married, here are a few key tips to help you create a good impression with your date's parents.
Respect is absolutely critical when you meet the parents. As mother and father, they expect their child to honor them. You want to show them that you will not be an obstacle to that relationship. When you meet them, shake hands and introduce yourself. Refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. unless they ask you to do otherwise. Always be polite, and if they give a curfew, stick to it.
As an example of respect, my wife frequently makes cookies for other Church members. While we were still dating, she would always give the most, and best, cookies to my parents. Giving them preferential treatment—even over me—was a way of showing them respect. (And did it ever work!)
When you seem nervous, it can at best make you look shy. At worst, it can appear that you have something to hide. If you can show the parents a quiet, assured confidence, they are more likely to trust you.
Confidence is not arrogance. Confidence is when you look someone straight in the eye, smile and pay him or her a compliment. Arrogance is when you look at someone's jacket and say that yours is more expensive. See the difference?
"I see you're polishing your shotgun, sir"
Confident or not, there are times when a date's parents are strictly out to intimidate. A friend of mine was once threatened by a girl's father with a shotgun! Most intimidation, however, is not so life-threatening. In such situations, it's good to do three things. 1) Evaluate how serious the person is. 2) Stay respectful. 3) Refuse to be intimidated.
Remember, someday you may actually marry this person you're dating and start your own family. Then you and your husband or wife will be in charge of making your own decisions. If you respectfully refuse to let anyone intimidate you, while showing that you have only the best Christian intentions, you will demonstrate that you are worthy of the task.
Build a relationship
Perhaps the most challenging and helpful way to create a good impression is to become friends with your friend's parents. Not all parents will "buddy up" with you. Take the initiative and time to get to know them and share a little of yourself. They will understand you better and know that they can trust you with their son or daughter.
To learn more, download or request your free copy of Marriage & Family: The Missing Dimension (especially chapter 3). Remember, as a Christian the key to earning the trust of your date's parents is simply being someone they can trust! VT