Break the News

It’s now or never – time for your parents to meet your significant other.  You’ve been evading their questions and throwing them false leads for far too long now. You’ve been going strong and steady for some time now and both of you have decided that your parents need to know that there’s someone special in your life.

You’ve probably never brought anyone home to meet your folks and if you ever did, it went horribly wrong.  Maybe they reacted poorly. Maybe they had a million questions that you couldn’t answer and then they shut down. You’re burned and don’t want to make the same mistakes.  But you’re also older now…and so are they. You’re in a great position to take a risk because the rewards are just as high.  Before opening night can happen, though, you’ve got to start the conversation.

Where, when and how are you planning to drop this bomb on them?

This is a crucial step, one I almost overlooked. I took for granted that my parents would flip out on this subject anytime and anywhere.  But a good friend gave me some great points to consider:

Don’t tell them at home

Their house is their security blanket, where they feel at ease to be on their worst behavior. If possible, get them out of their comfort zone to break the news.  They’ll think twice about losing their cool if they’re out in public and there are witnesses.  Try taking them to a nice restaurant and sharing the news over a great meal. Studies have shown that sharing a meal helps build a sense of trust, which is why it is such a common business practice.  I’m not guaranteeing that they won’t make a scene if they’re furious, but it’s less likely to happen if you don’t tell them at home. Do either of them have a birthday or anniversary coming up? Try to use an upcoming family event where it’s just Mom, Dad and you (and maybe your siblings) to avoid arousing their suspicions prematurely. The goal here is to get them in good spirits and keep them there.

 

Travel separately to the venue

This applies more to desis still living with their parents. For your benefit, try to drive to the location on your own, or have public transportation easily accessible.  In case breaking the news doesn’t go well or if there’s unbearable tension, you need to take care of yourself. If there’s tension during dinner, then it will most likely stick through the rest of the night.  Traveling on your own gives you the option to take a break from your parents so you can recover and re-energize.

 

Pre-schedule plans for after

Let your parents know that you’re meeting up with your girlfriends or buddies after. This way, they know they can’t hold you hostage. If things go badly, you’ll already have an excuse in place so you can make an exit easily.  Inform a close friend of your plans and advise him or her that you might need to crash for the night if things go badly.  If things go splendidly well, you should still honor your pre-existing plans because it will help buffer you from a staggered interrogation. 

A guide to mastering the art of meeting the parents

So how can you get your significant other to meet your family without inciting World War III?

This post is part one of my tutorial on how to make the best impression on desi parents as a desi or boyfriend/girlfriend of a desi.

In this series, you’ll learn:

  • What you should be preparing
  • Tools you’ll need to make the process as smooth as possible
  • The most important thing to do to please the desi parents (and yourself!)

The next post in this series will focus on the second half of your preparations to introducing your special someone to mom and dad: reducing their anxiety.

To get the full series, watch for future posts on A Desi New Yorker.

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