Hard to believe that the original Meet The Parents movie is 13 years old! Aside from the Ben Stiller vs. Robert DeNiro trilogy being pretty damn funny, it tackled a once-overlooked aspect in relationships. Hollywood rom-coms conveniently abandon the true grit and angst of relationships. Meeting your significant other’s parents can elicit a wave of conflicting emotions. But is there ever a correct way to go about what can be an awkward situation? How much does your family’s opinion of your s/o weigh on your individual opinion of the people you choose to date?
There are some families who are extremely involved in the romantic situations of their sons and daughters. I tend to see it happen more with daughters than sons. My parents never really probed into who I was dating. Yet, we needed a whole biography or work history of anyone my sister had remote interest in. Being older I’ve found myself continuing to be protective over my family. I haven’t dated a lot by regular standards. But even the exclusive relationships I have been in didn’t necessarily mean they met my parents right away. I come from 1 of those families where when you’re dating 1 of us, you have to answer to all of us. Because it’s natural for your family to get attached to a woman they really like, I’ve always advised to steer away from bringing someone home that you know won’t last into the next season. To be guarded with who you bring home is to have a level of respect for your family’s feelings.
This weekend, 1 of my cousins brought his girlfriend home. This wasn’t the 1st time he brought her home, but it was the 1st time I was able to get to know her. Well, I tried to. They come from 2 different cultures. Although my family is welcoming and far from judgemental, there seemed to be some type of disconnect between his girl and our family. We had a conversation and I think it boils down to respecting the differences in your s/o’s family structure.
My cousin’s 100% Dominican. Looking at him, most people would assume that he’s a light-skinned black guy like myself. That’s actually a running joke with people, that Dominicans are just black people who speak Spanish. But culturally, he’s a Latino. She’s black. Our family is sizable and is a smorgasbord of various ethnicities. I got the vibe that in his girl’s narrow mind black is black and Latino is black. This isn’t an uncommon thing for black women who date certain Latino men. The funny thing that she said was she only realizes my cousin is 100% Latino when he’s around family. While people tend to harp on the difficulties of dating interracially, dating inter-culturally can be just as rough.
For my cousin, having his girlfriend be interested in learning the ins and outs of our family and showing interest in our culture is a big deal. I used to feel like my parents’ input on my romantic choices didn’t matter. But as I’ve gotten older and grown closer to my nuclear family, I can understand the importance of having your s/o being embraced by your family. They’re a huge part of my life in terms of we’ve become extremely close since my father passed away. I talk to my mom a few times a week. Me and my brother usually have 2 hour conversations every weekend to catch up. Them meeting my s/o and liking her is a major deal. In fact, when your family likes your s/o, I think it can make your relationship go a bit more smoother. You don’t have to do separate holidays or birthdays. You don’t have to decide between being loyal to your family or starting new traditions with your s/o.
So back to my original question – is there a right way and time to introduce your s/o to your parents? Could you be with someone that your family didn’t like?