Like a job candidate for an interview, a professional athlete for the Olympics or a soldier for war, behind every great endeavor is a lot of research, training and mental preparation.
When it comes to meeting the parents, you need to see yourself as a soldier. Your research will be your training. It’s what you’ll have to do every day and every week to tackle any response from your parents flawlessly.
I know you’re expecting me to dive into specifics right off the bat – wearing the right clothes, creating the best impression, saying the right things at the right time. But before we can do any of that, we have to get prepared by doing our homework.
So what should you include in your research process? What steps can you take to gather the best evidence for your defense?
Crush their fears
Anticipate any concerns your desi parents might have and be ready to calm their anxiety. How? With an answer already prepared that they can’t argue against. Most desi parents are concerned about whether you boyfriend or girlfriend is a nice person, comes from a good family and has a stable job. Often, there will be an array of superficial concerns, too – looks, heritage, fortune, institutional affiliations, etc. You know your parents best. Identify all the potential issues they may have head on. It’s the best way to reduce their risk of moving forward with meeting your guy or gal. For example, if you know your parents would take issue if your partner doesn’t have a graduate degree, speak on his other accomplishments and strong work ethic.
I strongly advise against lying. You shouldn’t have anything to hide about your partner. If you do lie and are caught, it will damage your parents ability to trust you and escalate their defenses which you’re working hard to fizzle.
Get your partner involved
Training for war requires team effort. While you’re doing the undercover work identifying potential trouble spots, your significant other should be working with you to come up with the best campaign to rid your desi parents of doubt. Discuss your culture, religion, language, parents’ interests and beliefs with her. Give him a crash course in how to greet your parents in their native tongue – nothing beats that as a great first impression! Do your parents take their shoes off when they enter the house or eat with their hands? What should he or she call them? What customs are normal, what language is acceptable? Anything you can do to help your partner get closer to meeting your folks in the middle will be crucial to a successful connection.
Doing your homework is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal when planning to introduce your partner to your desi parents. Don’t skimp on the research. If you need more time, take it. Ask the right questions and have the best answers to address their fears. For every question your desi parents have that you answer with a sensible response, you lower their sense of risk. When their defenses are down, mom and dad will be more comfortable and open to giving your partner a chance to prove why he or she is good enough for their child.
This post is part two of my tutorial on how to make the best impression on desi parents.
The next post in this series will focus on setting the date. It’s more complicated than you think!
To get the full series, watch for future posts on A Desi New Yorker.
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You can read the first post in the series right here.
What questions do you have about doing the research?