Photo: Jeremy Beasley
It's only natural to worry over introducing your parents to his. After all, while you adore his quirks and eccentricities, your parents may not appreciate the source of them, Little Fockers-style. But good news: Your worry may be misplaced.
"Parents generally look forward to the expansion of their own sense of family and community through their children's marriage," says Brandy Engler, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of The Women On My Couch. "So even if there are fundamental differences in political ideology, religion, or more, marriage provides an unusual opportunity for them to put those differences aside for the bigger purpose of expanding the family."
That's not all. You can make a flawless introduction, too, by following these easy expert tips.
Choose your activity carefully.
"The best activity is going out for a meal because people can enjoy the food together and talk over dinner," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "They can immediately discover common tastes. This is a casual, informal way that's not too structured, and people can easily get to know each other."
Engler suggests keeping the meal casual. "Bring them together in a setting that creates the family vibe like a backyard BBQ versus a formal restaurant setting, which might bring out more anxiety and politeness," she says. "You want people to feel comfortable enough to be themselves."
Find common ground.
Facilitate easy-going conversation by asking parents to "discuss fun stories from childhood, hobbies and interests they may have in common, or activities they enjoy," says Greer. "Share what kind of work they do, other siblings and what they're doing for work and school, the neighborhood they live in and when they moved there, etc."
In the unlikely case your parents don't share any interests or commonalities, discussing your wedding and future can still bring them together "At the very least, they can talk about their shared hopes for the future — your wedding, kids, and more," Engler says. "For example, my husband and I gave our mothers a couple of shared roles in our wedding planning. They lived in different states, but these duties them a reason to be in touch over the phone and they naturally formed a friendship."
Avoid hot-button topics.
No matter what's happening in the news, do your best to steer your parents — especially those with opposing views — away from the topics of politics and religion, advises Greer. "Keep things more neutral — movies, books, plays you've been to, hobbies and activities you enjoy doing, and holiday plans," she suggests.