Illustration by Hannah Sun.
It’s that time again.
You know, that wonderful time of the year where you might want to bring your significant other (S/O) home to meet the family, if that hasn’t happened, yet. But be careful: There are probably some questions or stories that you want to avoid talking about with your oh-so-curious parental units. Other things, such as certain traditions your family observes, may make your S/O feel uncomfortable. And are you able to tell your family that you just need some alone time with your S/O so that neither of you get overwhelmed with all the family activities?
Here’s where I come in, offering a little something that I hope can help you through the holidays with your folks. It may not be for everybody, so do what you think will help you survive your family and make happy holidays — not crappy holidays — when it comes to you, your boo, and your parents.
Tip No. 1: Tell your S/O in advance about your family’s religious beliefs (if any.)
Now, you may have shared this with you S/O already, but some people don’t think to. (I didn’t when my partner first met my parents.) There is nothing to be ashamed of if you haven’t talked about this yet, but do it. And understand that if the person you’re with can’t accept your religion as a part of who you are, then you may not want to be dating that person. Plus, if they really love you, they should love all of you. So if your family doesn’t practice religion in the same way as your S/O, it would be better to prepare everyone for that possibility in the hopes no one will disrespect each other’s beliefs.
Depending on what your religion is, how your family celebrates the holidays may be new to your S/O, and you don’t want to scare them away if you and/or your family does something they don’t understand. Make sure to tell your family in advance about your partner’s religion as well: the traditions you have, the food you eat during the holidays, etc. It may not be okay for them — and nothing makes a person feel more unwelcome than not being able to be part of the festivities (most of which involve eating.) Even if you don’t consider your religious practices weird (is praying over food weird?), you should still have this conversation to make sure your partner knows what to expect and how to participate if they want
Tip No. 2: Share the basics.
Tell your family your S/O’s preferred pronouns and their race, if it’s different than your own. Remind your family that even if your partner may be feminine or masculine in appearance, they may not go by masculine/feminine pronouns, and your family should respect that even if they don’t understand. If needed, prep your family by telling them not to make racist or otherwise thoughtless jokes, even if they think it would bring no harm to your partner. Definitely better to avoid. You don’t want your partner to feel unwelcome in the house.
Tip No. 3: Plan ahead in case your family asks you and/or your boo questions about the future, but know you don’t have to answer.
When they meet the partner of their child, some parents may ask about marriage. Only tell them your plans if you want to. The best thing you can do is be clear and concise, so plan what you are going to say ahead of time with your S/O and then be honest. If you have talked about marriage with your S/O, then maybe you should tell your parents your plans or ideas. After all, they have more experience when it comes to marriage-related stuff than you do, and they might be able to help you with budgeting and other plans.
Bonus tip: You and your partner probably should talk about the future before you take your trip home, even if the answer is “we don’t know.” The last thing you’d want to do is go home with people asking questions about something you’re unsure of, yourself.
Tip No. 3: Tell your family if you need some alone time with your S/O.
Being around family members all day can be draining, so snag your S/O to do something that only involves the two of you. It could be as simple as taking a nap or watching holiday movies on TV, but don’t limit yourself to staying inside the house: go people watching, take a walk in the park, or go to the mall. Do whatever you want, as long as you get a breather from your parents to relax and collect yourselves for other group events that might be on the schedule, like caroling or decorating the tree.
Tip No. 4: Be honest.
Remind your parents just how much having your partner come for the holidays means to you. If it was hard for you to even want to bring your S/O home to meet your folks because you know how stressful it might be, tell them. And share how much you love your partner, regardless of how your family might see them.
Tip No. 5: Enjoy the love!
Have fun, enjoy the love and warmth that the holiday brings — and take naps before diving into big family events.