Recently I got few emails from men who planned to visit parents of their Chinese girlfriends and asked for tips on how to leave a good impression on them. Since this is a very important topic, I feel that it would be helpful to post these tips here on the blog. If you have anything to add – feel free to leave your comments in the end of this post.
It is important to note that if Chinese girl has invited you to meet her parents – this is a very significant sign meaning that she is serious about your relationship. Take it in account when you decide to accept or decline the invitation. If you read until here, I suppose that you are interested to accept it.
It is natural if you feel nervous and have a lot of questions. Let’s try to figure out answers to some of them.
First of all, what about gifts to her parents? In western countries flowers are always a good idea, but in China it is not a very popular gift (especially for older generation). So, it’s better to ask your lady what her mother is more into. You can also get some ideas from Jocelyn’s gifts-giving guide.
As for her father, if he is a smoker (which is unfortunately true for most of Chinese men) a block of cigarettes would be a good choice. Beware, however, that your attempt to be original might create troubles: Chinese are superstitious – so make sure that your gift has no negative symbolical meaning (like watch or clock, pronunciation of which in Chinese is similar to “death”).
If there are going to be other members of the family, ask her about Chinese way to address them. It will make them happy and help you to create a good and friendly atmosphere.
If you are invited for a dinner, make sure to come hungry and be ready to eat a lot !!! Everyone will urge you to eat and constantly fill your plate, you should not disappoint them
By the way, this will be a good chance to demonstrate your skills in using chopsticks. Practice in advance if you are yet not comfortable with them.
Kissing and hugging your girl in front of her parents is not the best way to prove your feelings since the older generation frowns upon public display of affection and intimacy.
If the parents of your girlfriend live in the countryside you might encounter some additional “surprises”. You are a foreigner, stranger (“laowai”) and some curious neighbors might find an excuse to come over, say “Hi” just to have a chance to peep at you. Please, don’t be angry or feel offended. Try to understand that you are different and treat this situation in a friendly way.
Finally, you might find that the toilet in their house is not the regular flush one you are used to, but the squat toilet. You will have to figure out its usage by yourself and my only tip would be to not lose your sense of humor.
The most important advice that I can give you: if you have any fears or doubts, talk with your girl in advance and she will help you. And don’t forget to check out the article about how to leave a good impression on a girl herself.
Your sincere friend, Crystal Tao.