13 years ago, when I first introduced my boyfriend – who is now my current husband – to my father for the first time, I was super nervous. I had NEVER brought home anyone to meet my parents and I certainly didn’t talk to my dad about boyfriends or dating.
I remember when I first mentioned the concept of ‘dating’ to my mom, her response was, “what’s dating?” So of course when it came time to actually introduce someone I was in a relationship with to my parents – especially knowing it was one that would become long-term – I didn’t know where to begin…how to start or even why I was introducing him because I knew my parents’ mindset at the time was you don’t date, you marry.
So here’s how the conversation went, one Sunday morning in the kitchen. Oh by the way, I was 27-years-old.
“Dad, I need to talk to you about something, so I think you should sit down.”
My dad stopped his cooking prep in the kitchen and looked up at me. “Ok”, he said.
“So I’ve been spending some time with a guy,’ I stammered. ‘And I wanted to tell you about him.”
“What does he do?”
“He’s a biochemist.”
“What’s his last name?”
“What? Why’s his last name important?”
“Just tell me, what’s his last name?”
“It’s Nayyar.” My dad paused for a few seconds, looked down at his feet and then at me, as if he was thinking really hard about something and said, “Ok, he’s Punjabi. That’s good.”
I was a bit flabbergasted. Really? His last name was one of the most important ways my dad could decide whether he was appropriate or not? The conversation went on for another 20 minutes but it felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life! He never asked me, “what do you like about him, how did you meet him, what is he like, how does he treat you” or any of those pertinent questions.
I know that our generation of moms and dads is much more open to these kinds of conversations because dating is much more common, intercultural marriages are certainly more accepted and we’re much more open with our kids than our own parents may have been.
But I do think we will all face the ‘meet the boyfriend’ situation one day. And no, I don’t think our daughters will be 27 years old and potentially thinking of marriage when we do get that opportunity. So I encourage you to remember what it was like for you when you were a young girl talking to your mom about your relationship for the first time and remember all the emotions you were feeling.
You want to be able to listen to what your daughter is saying and hear the ways in which she’s talking about the boyfriend to get a sense of her relationship. BeingGirl.com has some helpful tips that may help you have a successful first ‘boy I like’ conversation:
- Before expressing any concerns about her dating, or her relationship, ask her what HER expectations of the relationship are. If you’re worried about them having sex, you need to say this to your daughter and talk honestly and openly about it. Not easy to do, but there are ways of making it part of the conversation. Give her the skills she needs to navigate the relationship herself.
- Ask her what she likes about him. Talk to her about ‘attraction’ vs. anything else and what being attracted to someone really means. How does he treat her, what does she like most, what do they talk about… these are all questions that might help her open up and give you a sense of her feelings about him and the relationship. Ask her what he likes about her. This is important too, because you want to get a sense of whether her admiration for him is returned.
- Ask her if she’s ready to date or be in a relationship. We all know that our perceptions of dating and relationships change as we grow up, from that first crush to that first serious relationship. Helping her understand her own views about whether she’s ready to date or not is important. Check out some helpful tips here via com.
- Meet the boyfriend.
- Definitely talk to your daughter about sex if you haven’t already. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Ensure she knows the difference between a healthy unhealthy/violent relationship and understands her rights in one. Abuse – emotional, mental or physical – isn’t something you ever want your daughter to go through, so arming her with tools to be safe and tell you about it is key.
- Maybe even meet the parents when you and your daughter are ready. Culturally and historically for us as moms, this step usually comes only when marriage is involved but that’s not what I’m talking about here. A great way to overcome your nerves in meeting your daughter’s boyfriend is to get to know the people who brought him up. Don’t impose on them, but perhaps invite the boyfriend’s parents around for drinks or dinner as a friendly gesture. The chances are that they’ll be keen to meet you too.
It’s important that you appear genuinely interested in getting to know the parents too. If you’ve got doubts or suspicions about their son, you can bet they’ve had the same thoughts about your daughter. But dwelling on these is not the best way to build trust. Relax – and maintain your sense of humor.
So whether your daughter is sharing her first crush with you or telling you about her first relationship, keep the lines of communication open and remember what it may have been like for you at that age. Good luck!
This post was sponsored by pgeveryday.ca however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.
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