It’s that time of year when couples start debating if it’s the right time to take their special someone home for the holidays to meet the family.
Marriage and family professor Mark Ogletree and a few students gave their top tips for a successful trip.
Ogletree recalled a few experiences of when his children introduced their significant others to the family. Based on of his field of study, his personal experiences and his familial experiences, he put together a few tips to ease the nervousness of meeting the family.
“It’s not rocket science,” Ogletree said. “The list is pretty simple.”
1. Do your homework
“Learn their family interests and be polite,” Ogletree said. He encouraged those who are seriously dating to show interest by finding out as much as possible about the family before the first meeting. For instance, learn how many kids are in the family, what his/her father does for a living and what their traditions are.
2. Engage with the family
Tessa Lund, an elementary education major from Sacramento, took her fiancé home for Thanksgiving break when they had been together about nine months. Lund’s parents had only met her fiancé once, so the couple was pretty nervous about it.
“I had given Grey a lot of pointers beforehand, and that helped,” Lund said.
Grey Lund mentioned he completely won over her family while he was visiting for the break.
“My fiancé was super involved. We have Thanksgiving with tons of cousins, aunts and uncles. He was always having fun playing with the kids or with the group,” Lund said. She said this impressed not only her, but her family as well.
3. Forget the one-word answers
“Let them get to know you and show who you are and what you think about things,” Ogletree said. “Yes or no answers do not develop relationships.”
Ogletree recalled when one of his daughters brought her boyfriend home for a holiday weekend.
“I kept thinking, ‘You came all this way to meet us and you won’t talk to us? Why does my daughter like you?'” Ogletree said.
He said the best way to understand what his daughter saw in this man was to have him open up, which he failed to do.
4. Show your gratitude
“It is so important to be complimentary and express your gratitude to the family,” Ogletree added. “You are their guest, and it is important to be respectful.”
Lund mentioned her fiancé did a great job of showing his thanks during their stay.
“He said the prayer over Thanksgiving dinner; it won them over,” Lund said.
5. Impress, but be yourself
Ogletree mentioned that the first impression truly matters; he recommended to use this time to really connect.
“As parents, we want to gain trust with the man who will be marrying our daughter,” Ogletree said. “You need to realize that this is a big deal.”
He continued to say that impressions last with parents; he mentioned he still remembers meeting his now sons-in-law for the first time.
6. Be helpful
Ogletree encouraged individuals to ask, “What can I do?” or “How can I be helpful?” These questions should be asked often when visiting your significant other’s home.
When Ogletree was dating his wife, he talked about a mistake he made the first time he was invited to dinner.
“The whole family got up to start doing dishes and clean up the meal,” Ogletree said. “I felt a little out of place and didn’t know what to do, so I left.”
He laughed about the experience and mentioned he should have just made himself useful when he had the chance.
7. Enjoy it
“When seriously dating, you are in a spot to learn about others’ traditions, so make sure you don’t impose,” Ogletree said.
According to Ogletree, this exciting time for couples should be enjoyed and should be used as a time to learn all you can. Make it fun; make it worth it.
Sean Gardner, an exercise and wellness major, is taking his girlfriend of three months to his grandparents’ house in western Colorado for the holiday weekend.
“She has never met my family before, so I’m really excited about it,” Gardner said.
Gardner’s traditions for Thanksgiving include an annual turkey bowl football game and pie crust- making.
“She’s planning on coming to my parents’ house for Christmas break too; I’m really looking forward to it,” Gardner added.
Overall, Ogletree and Lund agree that winning over the family isn’t as hard as it may seem.
“Enjoy it. You’re there, so you may as well soak it up,” Ogletree said.