6 Things Parents Shouldn't Do When Getting To Know Their Child's Significant Other

Meeting your significant others' folks is a situation that can be so fraught with tension, it's no wonder Hollywood has plumbed the moment for all its worth ("Meet the Parents," "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" -- we could go on and on).
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Meeting your significant others' folks is a situation that can be so awkward, it's no wonder Hollywood has plumbed the moment for all it's worth ("Meet the Parents," "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" -- we could go on and on).

Now, dear moms and dads out there, a part of that awkwardness has a little something to do with you. While we prep our boyfriends and girlfriends on what does and doesn't fly with you guys ("My parents are Mr. and Mrs. Akitunde not Tony and Emilia, no swearing, and could you please, maybe, possibly wear something that doesn't have holes in it?"), it doesn't seem like parents give advice directed at them the same weight -- at least not from the stories I've heard.

In an attempt to keep the awkward throat clearing to a minimum when you meet your child's boyfriends or girlfriends, here is a list of things parents shouldn't do when getting to know their kids' significant others. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

1. Making negative opinions of the significant other known immediately, right in front of them.

From the blatant criticism to the backhanded compliment, keep your initial opinions to yourself -- especially when the offending party is right there. Say your son's girlfriend walks in wearing a dress that's more appropriate for a night of clubbing than a Sunday dinner at home. Saying something like "That's an interesting outfit" can do a few things: 1- set her on edge for the rest of the evening, making her impossible to really know; 2- set your son on edge if he caught the real meaning behind the "compliment" that she didn't; and/or 3- make the poor sartorially challenged girl think there's no recovering from her missed first impression and that you hate her.

"Parents should just sit there, smile and talk about their child's choice later," one of my friends, A.J., told me.

2. Making jokes at their (or your child's exes) expense.

Cracking jokes can be an icebreaker, but it depends on what the subject of the joke is. A joke about your child's boyfriend or girlfriend -- their style, hometown or line of work ("You're in finance? Ha, I should probably hide my wallet! Haha!") -- can make your kid's date feel uncomfortable if they're not familiar with your sense of humor.

Same goes with cracking wise about exes. Who wants to hear about those losers anyway?

3. Facebook stalk and then reference said Facebook stalking.

In this age of oversharing, it's safe to assume that most people don't think about the online persona their Facebook and Twitter status updates, Instagram uploads and all other manners of social media are creating. So a pouty-lipped self shot or drunken evening alone does not a bad girlfriend or boyfriend make.

If you can't keep yourself from doing a little Googling and poking around on your child's significant other's Facebook page, at the very least don't bring it up during conversation -- it's kind of creepy. Figure out their likes the real world way: through a nice chat.

4. {insert any verb + preposition] sex.

No joking about, asking for, or advocating against it. Even if your family is pretty open with talking about sex, it doesn't mean your child's date is. That's a "check please" waiting to happen.

5. Bring up the possibility of marriage and/or grandchildren.

I mentioned this in an earlier post about things one should never say to their adult children, and this goes double for your children's dates. Maybe they haven't had that conversation yet themselves and feel more than a little awkward fielding that question from you. But from what I hear, most couples feel the answers to the marriage and grandchildren questions are ones they'd rather bring to you than the other way around.

6. Whip out the baby pictures and videos for collective "oohing" and "aahing."

Just don't.

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