Meeting Her Parents For the First Time: Advice From 1948

One of the most difficult things about introducing someone who is new to your life, whether they are a girlfriend or husband, son-in-law or daughter; for example, is how you make them feel welcome.

How to win her parents varsity's vintage article.

Note from the editor: Are you going to meet your girlfriend’s parents for the first time soon? Then have a look at the following advice from a 1948 edition of Varsity magazine. Check out our own guidance on the issue for further tips on managing this possibly nerve-wracking meeting. Make sure you brush up on your small conversation and table etiquette as well.

“How to Win Her Parents’ Love” is a book on how to win her parents’ love Varsity: The Young Man’s Magazine, August 1948, by William J. Reilly

I made a tremendous impression on my first girl’s parents when I made my first official call to her.

I was sixteen years old at the time, and as I approached their elegant house in a foreign area, my pulse raced and I felt frightened since I was on an unexplored path in more ways than one.

My daughter was the one who answered the door. She took me into the living area and showed me about. Then everything started to happen quickly.

When her father entered the room to be introduced, I had just taken a seat. I sprang from my seat, took two quick strides forward, felt a throw-rug slide on the highly polished floor, and fell down on my back.

At the same time, the lady of the house entered the room to be introduced, and the whole thing turned out to be really casual. I was a huge hit right away.

The problem is that not everything can be planned and timed properly.

I’ll never understand why somebody would put a throw rug on a beautifully polished floor, unless it’s as a nasty and purposeful trap.

The fact that I have a sixteen-year-old son whom I am mentoring and two daughters, ages eighteen and twenty, is the major fuel for my present fixation with how to win over your girlfriend’s parents. And both are sometimes contacted by a variety of young guys, some of whom are in dire need of some friendly advice on what to do and say when challenged by the girlfriend’s parents.

Vintage varsity magazine illustration meet the parents.

Being over-energetic in front of my girl’s parents was the first error I made, which led to my first demise. Everything would have been fine if, instead of leaping to my feet and racing for her father to be introduced, I had simply risen from my chair and waited for him to come over to me and pump my hand. My natural anxiousness would not have been as obvious.

When visiting someone’s house for the first time, try to relax as much as possible. Make no abrupt movements or changes of direction. Just keep in mind that you’re a visitor, and the host or hostess will come to you. Allow them to express their delight at meeting you, then tell them you’ve been looking forward to meeting them.

But what to say after that is a more difficult matter.

Vintage varsity magazine illustration meet her parents 1948.

A young guy contacted in May, offering to take my daughter to the midget motor races. I couldn’t get the guy to stop chatting about the weather as we sat on the front porch waiting for her. Before he arrived, I thought it was a pleasant evening. But, as he walked away, I started to wonder whether I should change into my thick underwear.


It’s completely OK to make a passing reference to the weather and then move on. However, unless there has been an extraordinary storm or flood, or unless you meet your girl’s parents in the midst of a hurricane, the weather should not be used as a foundation for any extended social chat.

Vintage illustration man on soap box meeting parents.

However, very contentious topics like politics and religion should be avoided, at least at first. You’ll save a lot of problems if you remember that you’re the guest when you call for your girl and leave the talk to the parents. Even parlor tricks may be harmful unless you’re an expert.

Most parents have a favorite topic of conversation. However, every now and then, you can come across a parent who refuses to lead the dialogue. Then it’ll be up to you to take the lead and shatter the deafening quiet. Sports, ranging from football to bowling, will frequently pique the father’s attention. Anything you remark about her house or her kids will typically make her happy and get her chatting. If none of these approaches work, one thing to ask either or both of them is what time they want you to bring their daughter home. This will make them adore you. Then make sure you bring her home on time, and they’ll think you’re fantastic.

If you’re spending an evening with your lady, playing records and such, depart a bit sooner than you believe they think you should, rather than a little later. The parents are blown away by this. On the other hand, if one or both of them has to call downstairs to get you to pull yourself away, their opinion of you may take a sharp drop.

If your girlfriend invites you to dinner, make sure you arrive on time and bring flowers or chocolates for her mother – and you’ll be off to a fantastic start. Eat everything on your plate, compliment the chef, pass your plate for one modest additional helping of whatever seems to be in the most plentiful supply, and don’t forget that at a dinner table, more than anywhere else, the eyes of Texas are on you!

Every guy, sooner or later, will have tremendous moments. One of these occasions is when you’re asked to spend the weekend at your girl’s house.

This is the ultimate barometer of social appropriateness.

Everything I’ve mentioned about table manners, conversation, and introductions still remains true.

The worst blunder I made on my first weekend at my girlfriend’s was to procrastinate until I was late for my train home on Sunday night.

When my daughter and I returned to her house at 11 p.m. that night, her parents looked at me and talked with a chilly composure that could only have been restrained fury. My girl’s mother had just completed tossing the bedding and guest-room linen down the dirty-clothes chute, and the family was now ready to turn out the lights and go to bed, I later learnt.


But now I had to make a long-distance call to contact my parents, and my girl’s mother had to dig out the thrown linen and reconstruct the guest room since the home was out of linen.

The next morning, everyone in the family got up an hour earlier than normal. At breakfast, no one spoke anything. In the corridor, I said a hasty farewell to my daughter while her father waited close by the entrance. He drove me to the station on a cold journey. Even his hand seemed lifeless and chilly as he bid me goodnight. It would have been better if I had departed the night before…

So, if you’re going to see them on the weekend, keep in mind their schedules and be as prompt leaving as you were entering. And, while you’re a visitor, keep in mind their family’s routine; be there when they eat. When the rooms are being cleaned, get out of the way. If there’s a queue at the entrance, don’t spend time in the restroom. Don’t give their servant any more work, and don’t annoy them in any way.

The most crucial thing to remember in your attempts to win over your girl’s parents is that they are people. Parents are, in reality, some of the finest people I know. And I’m sure you’ll agree when you consider your own Mother and Father.

When you examine your own parents’ hobbies, comfort, and pleasure, you understand how much they value it. When you show your thanks for everything they’ve done for you, you can tell how happy they are.

Your girl’s parents, on the other hand, are quite similar to yours.

Young people are frequently chastised for being “typically preoccupied with their own plans and interests” and for being “thoughtless and ungrateful,” so any young man who expresses his gratitude for hospitality and demonstrates to his girl’s parents that he considers their interests and conveniences as well as his own is bound to be regarded as quite a guy.

My daughter and her friend Tom went to the theater in New York a few weeks ago. They claimed they’d arrive about 12:30 p.m. My daughter called around 11:00 p.m. to say that the play was a bit lengthy, that they had missed their train, that they were now stopping to grab something to eat, and that they would be home about 1:30 p.m. She said, “Tom believed we should let you know so you wouldn’t be concerned.” That was enough to conjure up images of Tom in my mind.

What sort of letter you send to your girl’s parents after spending the weekend with them has a lot to do with how they see you. You may gain true character by sending your girl’s mother a detailed and thoughtful letter in which you express your gratitude for all the things that were done to make your stay as pleasant as possible – and go ahead and specify what those things were. On the other hand, spending a weekend at your girl’s house and then sending her mother a quick and perfunctory message is the same as saying, “Well, here’s-a-letter-I-have-to-write-and-I-just-want-to-get-it-over-with.” Nobody appreciates a shabby little thank you letter.


Vintage magazine illustration man fixing radio varsity mag.

You can also perform other little things. You may give them a letter on their anniversary, remember their birthdays, snap their photo on a Sunday afternoon, or volunteer to fix a little appliance around the home. You may even go so far as to offer to clean a few dishes.

Following a party at your girl’s house, you have one last opportunity to win her over. It’s as simple as volunteering to pick up after yourself. I know it works since we’ve hosted several parties at our home, but only once have we been surprised by an offer to clean up. “It was the largest New Year’s celebration I’ve ever seen,” Joe stated as he walked around the gathering. You, on the other hand, have done enough. We’ll now assist in cleaning up the area. Right now, I’ve had a few of the lads cleaning up the basement.” You’ll see why my wife and I will remember Joe for the rest of our lives.

Let’s take a look at some of the methods you may win over your girlfriend’s parents in a nutshell:

  1. Don’t go overboard with your introductions to her parents. Meet them softly and in a comfortable, unhurried way. Recite their names aloud.
  2. Look for discussion starters that will pique the parents’ attention. If they want to chat, let them; if not, choose topics that interest them and ask them questions to get the discussion started.
  3. If at all possible, stay away from contentious topics at first.
  4. Instead of leaving a bit later, try to leave your girl’s house a little sooner than you believe they want you to go.
  5. Take chocolates or flowers to her mother when she invites you to supper at her house.
  6. Keep a close eye on your table manners. Also, don’t forget to compliment the chef.
  7. When you’re asked to spend the weekend at her house, keep these four things in mind:
    • The sweet package for her mum.
    • Don’t stay up beyond a sensible hour at night.
    • Keep a close eye on their schedules.
    • Write a meaningful, thankful thank-you message when you get home, and make it welcoming and warm.
  8. If you agreed to bring your sweetheart home at a specific time and then discover you won’t be able to make it until much later, call her parents and let them know.
  9. Take advantage of every opportunity to send a greeting card to your girl’s parents, such as during Christmas, on birthdays and anniversaries, or anytime you are on vacation.
  10. Offer to assist clean up after a party at your ladies’ house.

So, you were born into a good family, you had a good education, and all of this is old news. But consider the last time you made a mistake. Sure, you should’ve known better! What you know, on the other hand, isn’t that crucial. What matters is that you remember to use it – and that you do so on time!




Frequently Asked Questions

What do you say when you meet her parents for the first time?

A: Hi, I am a highly intelligent question answering bot. If you ask me a question, I will give you a detailed answer.

What to do when you meet your girlfriends parents for the first time?

A: Introduce yourself and make small talk. Be friendly, but dont be too pushy as to make them feel uncomfortable. If youre invited on a family outing, take the opportunity to get closer with your girlfriends parents by spending time doing something together during their activity of choice (i.e., cooking an elaborate meal for the entire group).

What does it mean when you meet her parents?

A: It means youre about to meet her parents.