Do bring a gift. Even if he and his parents and everyone else tell you not to. Don’t show up empty-handed. It’s just a polite gesture of gratitude to let them know you appreciate them opening up their home to you.
Do sleep where there is a bed made up for you. That means if there’s a bed made up for you in a guest room, that’s where you will be sleeping.
Do make the bed. Even if he tells you not to or that his mother prefers unmade beds or there is a butler standing outside your room ready to make it up for you. Making it yourself communicates that you don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.
Do err on the side of the formality but allow them to set the tone for a more casual atmosphere. Start out referring to them by Mr. or Ms. so and so and if they acknowledge that you can use a more informal manner around them, then oblige them.
Do be a child again. In relationships, it’s common for women to put their maternal instinct into play by simply mothering their boyfriends: making plans, making meals, reminding him to take a jacket. Some girls feel displaced when watching his mother now step into that role. Try to ease off, lift your feet up and enjoy taking time off from being the responsible one.
Don’t expect privacy or alone time with your beau. You’re there to visit family for a finite period of time. Let the family be with each other as much as possible.
Don’t talk to His mom about your relationship problems. This is different if you’re a wife because then the decision about you has already been made and if you’re seeking advice, his mom is likely invested in keeping you two together. On the other hand, if you’re just a girlfriend complaining to his mother about him, expect every mother to take her son’s side. If you’re hoping his mama might put him straight, it could easily backfire and she could be encouraging her son to put you out.
Don’t get jealous if you feel excluded. He may want to be alone with just his Dad for some time. You get to see Him all the time. His Dad doesn’t. Bring something to read and give Him time to nurture his relationship with his family.
Don’t ask about exes. Don’t ask what his parents thought of his ex-girlfriend or if she stayed in the guest bedroom or if they even knew her. Avoid the topic completely.
Don’t fight his battles for him. If you think his Dad is unfairly criticizing Him and you’re tempted to stand up for him, try not to. People’s relationships with their parents are complicated; the history goes back years and years and usually includes some bad blood. If your boyfriend lets a rude comment go by, take a cue from your boyfriend and trust that it’s not worth pursuing.
Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.