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Meeting the Parents... A cross-cultural adventure!

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Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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So, have any of you have had interesting experiences meeting your b/f ''s parents... Particularly, has anyone had to manage a language barrier or cultural barriers?
 

FireGoddess

Super_Ideal_Rock
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I have never met DH''s father, but I have met his mother in Europe. To this day, all I can really say to the woman in her language is hi, how are you, can I get you some tea?
She doesn''t know any English.
 

poptart

Brilliant_Rock
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Date: 2/12/2007 9:37:58 PM
Author: Independent Gal
FireGoddess: what was it like when you first met her? Was it awkward?


I''m pretty nervous!
Where are M''s parents from, if you don''t mind me asking?

*M*
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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They are from Europe (she said vaguely). His parents and I speak a little... a very little of each others'' first languages. And I''ve spent some time in their country, but not in their region which is supposed to be quite distinct. M has never brought a girl home before. It was his parents'' idea. He seems excited about it... I''m just NERVOUS!

I mean, how do you get to know someone without being able to make conversation?!
 

poptart

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Date: 2/12/2007 9:51:11 PM
Author: Independent Gal
They are from Europe (she said vaguely). His parents and I speak a little... a very little of each others'' first languages. And I''ve spent some time in their country, but not in their region which is supposed to be quite distinct. M has never brought a girl home before. It was his parents'' idea. He seems excited about it... I''m just NERVOUS!


I mean, how do you get to know someone without being able to make conversation?!


Thanks for clarifying, lol. Europe... that narrows it. Sorta. I''m just kidding.

You smile sweetly and let him translate! I really don''t know, but on the plus side, if you say anything wrong your BF will translate it out of the conversation. Maybe you could get them a nice gift to show your happiness in meeting them. Prepare them dinner if it would be appropriate maybe, and just do everything you would normally do except you have to talk through M in order to understand each other. If it were me I would also try to learn key phrases in their language... hello, goodbye, hope to see you soon, etc.

*M*
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Poptart: The translation filter! Good thinking. Haha!


The gift / dinner ideas are great! Well, the gift idea is more great for ME because I''m a really, really awful cook. So I could just see his mama tasting a dish, throwing down her fork and crying "No! No! My boy can''t marry this terrible cook!'' Maybe I should bring some things from my country as a gift (I''m from another continent too).

But on second thought, I''d rather they focus on getting to know me than on me-as-a-specimen-of-my-culture, know what I mean?

Actually, M''s not a bad cook, so maybe I could be his sous-chef and we could cook for them together. That might send out the right (and very accurate) messages too.

OK, I''m babbling. Not that I''m going to let that stop me.

I used to be able to sort of understand some of their language, so I thought I would try to brush up. But I can''t brush up to the level of being able to make sophisticated conversation so quickly. And they''re really sophisticated. Which brings me to the fact that they''re really sophisticated. Yikes! And I, uhm, like to put my feet up on my desk.

ARGH!

It''s going to be ok, right?

He''s really, really close to his family. It would be horrible if they didn''t like me.

 

JenStone

Shiny_Rock
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Independent Gal - I''m Korean and my bf''s Chinese. Although we''re both Asian, we still have a lot of cultural differences. Also, neither sets of our parents speak much English.

When my boyfriend first met my parents, he brought them a box of Asian pears, which is the Korean traditional gift for suitors to bring. When I met his parents, I presented them with a box of Korean ginseng, which they loved.

When our parents met each other, it was pretty awkward because they bascially needed two translators between them, but everything turned out okay.

I would suggest learning a few key words in her language, and researching the culture as much as you can so you''re not caught off-guard. A little present never hurts either.
 

onedrop

Ideal_Rock
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I agree with Poptart''s advice! Especially for the first meeting. I was and still am in that situation myself and it was very nerve-wracking the first time out. I met my FI''s family (not just the parents) very early on in our relationship. I was SO nervous! In his culture it is custom that if you are in a "significant" relationship you are introduced to the parents early on. But in my experience one does not meet the parents until it becomes serious. So meeting them all of them so early was WEIRD for me! Luckily they are very sweet people and though I speak very little of their language, it has been great getting to know them just through observation and by learning a few words and using them in the appropriate places.

Like Poptart said just smile, look at your boyfriend for translation and just try to be open. Afterward, try and learn (if you can) as much of his parent''s native language as possible, it will definitley help in the future!
 

dmbfan

Shiny_Rock
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Indy,

I''ve had to deal with this all my life, My parents speak enough English, but not enough to thoroughly hold a conversation. So I translated everything. I made sure that my SO knew what was being talked about and involved her as much as I could. It is an awkward situation for both, M as much as you. Make sure you understand that no matter how much he is translating, he may forget to translate some things. Other things you just can''t translate. My best suggestion for you is to make sure M is comfortable and you are supporting him. Everything else will fall in place by itself.

Where are you from Indy? What languages do you speak?
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Thanks for all the greate advice, guys. I''m sure all will be well and I''m probably nervous for nothing! I''m sure it will be a little awkward at first, but as long as there''s good will on both sides... It''s not like I have to IMPRESS them... or do I?

And surely parents are predisposed to like a woman who is making their son so happy, right? He''s in his mid 30''s and this is the first time they have ever asked him to bring a girl home to meet them. He says it''s because of the way he was talking about me at Christmas. His father apparently asked if he was hoping to marry me. I''m assuming he said ''yes'' if this invitation ensued.


I am going to try hard to improve my language skills so that the next time I meet them I can do better. And I''ll also see about bringing them a nice gift.

DMBfan: I''ve spent chunks of my life on three continents, and speak 5 languages... only 2 of them well, though. Hope you don''t mind if I keep the potentially-identifying-details private?
 

waves044

Rough_Rock
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Oct 19, 2005
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Hi! My bf''s parents/family does not speak very much English either, and my one bit of advice would be to be very mindful of your tone of voice. I tend to be somewhat sarcastic/joking around bf and at times, this has been mistaken as rude/mean/crabby in bf''s parents'' eyes, since they cannot understand the words, but only hear the way that something was said
 

dmbfan

Shiny_Rock
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DMBfan: I''ve spent chunks of my life on three continents, and speak 5 languages... only 2 of them well, though. Hope you don''t mind if I keep the potentially-identifying-details private?
ofcourse not
. Very cool though and I wont even ask what countries
. Good luck and yes if they are inviting they should also be very welcoming... let us know how it goes.
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Great tip about tone of voice, Waves. I hadn''t thought about that at all. This could actually be a problem with me since I''m pretty goofy, jokey with M too. Apparently, his folks are very serious people so they might think I''m a flake if I''m not careful.

Alternatively, I apparently have a habit of wrinkling my brow when I''m thinking which apparently makes me look pissed off. That could be decidedly not good too.

hmmmm... non-verbal communication. a minefield!
 

Ladyoflovers

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I will have the same problem, too. I''m Turkish and my family is in Turkey and the wedding will be there, too. My bf/fiancee has never met them before, neither has his family. I will take him with me in couple of weeks to introduce to my family but i''m a little nervous about that. I''m sure he''ll be happy with the foods and the environment but i wonder how long he will be able to stand having to listen to people speaking in a foreign language all the time. I guess i should just give food to him whenever he starts complaining.
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Pinar:

Mmm... I'm sure he'll stop complaining if you feed him! The food in your country is so amazing. People say it's one of the best cuisines in the world and I completely agree. And the sweets!
Heaven is made of baklava!

I had so much fun when I was traveling in Turkey! And we're planning to take a holiday there together this summer. My favourite town was Bergama. That probably sounds weird but I really loved exploring the ruins and everyone was so kind and friendly to me.

What part of Turkey are you from? And isn't Pinar a Spanish name?
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
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Hi Gal!

From Izmir, it is somewhat close to Bergama i guess. It has been quite a while since I have been there and I do miss the food so much!!! If you really like the food so much, there is an online site that sells authentic Turkish, especially their homemade baklava can easily compete against the ones sold in TR. Hmmm, yumm, i may order some tonight!


I don''t know the rules though, can i post the link here or shall i e-mail you separately? They are in Queens and we are in Manhattan. I usually receive it right next day and still crunchy, buttery and not too sweet though. Wait, what am i saying, i need to get on a diet!!!
 

FireGoddess

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Date: 2/12/2007 9:37:58 PM
Author: Independent Gal
FireGoddess: what was it like when you first met her? Was it awkward?

I''m pretty nervous!
I was pretty nervous but it wasn''t too awkward. Even though I couldn''t say a lot of stuff to her the fact that I learned some things in her language was endearing to her. I also gave her a gift and had asked DH to translate what I wanted to say beforehand and I said those things when I gave it to her. Regardless of language barriers, intent and thoughtfulness are universal.
 

FireGoddess

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Date: 2/13/2007 4:56:12 PM
Author: Ladyoflovers

I don''t know the rules though, can i post the link here or shall i e-mail you separately? They are in Queens and we are in Manhattan. I usually receive it right next day and still crunchy, buttery and not too sweet though. Wait, what am i saying, i need to get on a diet!!!
No posting of email addresses here, but you can post the link. Besides..we might want some too!! heehee
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Wowee! That site is awesome. M is going to be so excited about it too.

I''m going to check if they have that yummy apple tea...

Thanks so much for posting that.
 

BlackDiamond21

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
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GURL... I could write a Visa commercial about my experience!!!

Bf is Vietnamese/Chinese $500

Me being Black $500

Worst race his parents eldest son could date... Black $250

Metting his parents for the 1st time on the nite of the 2002 New York Black Out... PRICELESS!!!
(my mom gets a kick out of telling people that his parent's met me during the black-out. lol)

For those who don't remember the power outage thing, http://www.atnewyork.com/news/article.php/3064291

Make a long story short, basically he flew home from a trip the same evening of the blackout. The plan was to pick him up from the airport in NY and take him to my house. Well, I lived in NJ at the time (he lived in Brooklyn, NY) and because the gov't was unsure if it was terrorist thing, they closed off all bridges and tunnels going into NJ to be safe. So he had no choice but to bring me to his parents home to stay for the nite.
When they found out I was his gf, to say they weren't happy would be an understatement.


Fast foward almost 4 years later, they cannot wait for us to get married (even offering to pay for it) and for me to have their first grandbabies!


Funny how life works out huh???
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Oh, man, B''Diamond. That sounds... I can''t decide between ''hilarious'' or ''awful''. What a way to meet! But the ending is pretty encouraging.

Did they actually make a scene in front of you? or were they nice but just told your b/f afterward that they were... displeased?

And I have to join your FMIL with the whole ''get to work on that wedding / grandbabies'' business. I read your catch up thread and I second the ''head to the courthouse'' thing! Don''t let money get in the way of marrying that boy! You can always renew your vows on your first (or 5th?) anniversary on a beach in St. Lucia or something!
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
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Aug 3, 2006
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Having had the Italian "mother-in-law" situation several times with ex-bf''s:

- when I didn''t speak the language: bring a dictionary, smile a lot, watch tone of voice, try not to argue with bf even for fun or be too bossy.

- when I did speak the language: agree how awful their lives were (they lived in total luxury!), smile a lot, talk about food, talk about their little boy. (one even thanked me for making him move out of her house - he was 33
)
 

FireGoddess

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Date: 2/13/2007 6:45:32 PM
Author: Pandora II
- when I didn''t speak the language: bring a dictionary, smile a lot, watch tone of voice, try not to argue with bf even for fun or be too bossy.
I gotta wholeheartedly concur with that...for those 2 weeks that we were all together, if I was upset with him I would actually smile while I told him that ''we need to talk about this later because I am really mad'' just like I would if I were saying ''I love you dear.''
 

BlackDiamond21

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
62
I.Gal:

Yeah it is a mix of both awful and hillarious!
At the time of course it hurt like hell, but now it is a source of laughter and the experience for me brought to life the saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover" on a very personal level.


To answer your question, the scene that was made was not done infront of me but in the next room and I got an earful. Granted it was in Vietnamese so I could not understand it but we all know no matter what language is spoke, anger
transends!

As more time goes by, the more I am headed toward the courthouse
... Waiting is wearing down my convictions and dreams...
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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5,471
Oh, no, B''Diamond! Don''t let your dreams get worn down! Maybe try to transpose them into something manageable? A second best scenario? And then make that INTO your dream? Or maybe I''m being a Pollyanna and trying to be too chipper.

Maybe start a new thread and give us an update, in case we can think of some suggestions for you?


I''m off in one week to Meet the Parents. I''ve been hard at work thinking through presents and practicing not wrinkling my brow when I''m thinking (so as not to look deceptively pissed off). The dad turns out to be easy - present wise as he''s a collector and I know of something great to add to his collection. The mum is a lot harder.... Hmm.

 
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