What not to say to your partner's parents over the holidays
Okay, so you’re spending part/all the holidays with your significant other’s family. This is either GREAT news (You guys get along famously!) or…maybe not-so-great news (There’s tension between you and the fam, or you’ve never met them but you’ve heard the rumors and you’re preparing yourself for rough road ahead).
Look, chances are you’re going to be fine and everything is going to be great, but if you REALLY want to nail this trip (or, depending on who your partner’s parents are, maybe the most you’re hoping for is just to SURVIVE this extended hang) here are the things to avoid saying at all costs
“My family would never do that.”
It’s SO weird spending time with other people’s families, it can straight-up feel like you’re hanging out in a different dimension. Their ways may be very different than your ways. But in all matters small and medium you’re probably going to have to roll with it. Barring a situation in which there is harassment/actual abuse, you need to just be cool, Sodapop.
#Protip,if you find yourself getting judge-y about your partner’s family, force yourself to Pollyanna the situation and actively look for the good/give compliments where they are due.
“Did you guys get a gift receipt for my gift?”
NO, they probably did not, and even if they did, it doesn’t matter, getting a gift from your partner’s parents is not about you getting something you actually want (I mean, if that happens, yay), rather it’s a way for them to show you that they want you to feel welcome and included. In this case more than any other, it really is the thought that counts, so just say the nicest thank you and stuff the rest. It’s totally fine if the sweater is ugly enough to scare ALL the small children, breathe, you never have to wear it IRL.
“You guys are totally welcome over any time!”
No, they’re actually not. Actually nobody’s welcome over all the time except the people who actually live in your house. You have to set boundaries, otherwise people will assume you have none. So definitely invite the partner’s family over, but you be in control of all the factors (when they’re coming, how long they’re staying for, what you guys will be doing during their stay, etc.) As Oprah says, you teach people how you want to be treated, and you need to teach your partner’s fam that you would like to be treated like you have boundaries, please and thank you!
“I can’t eat this.”
This is another issue where boundaries come into play. If you’re vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/hate shrimp/whatever, you NEED to communicate this ahead of time. Even if it feels like a silly thing, like you’re a totally picky eater, or you can’t stand when different foods on your plate touch each other, you MUST be clear about that. Your partner’s family are not mind readers. And if you’re totally a chicken and make your partner tell their mom, so be it. Just get the message through, so you can eat the things on your plate.
“Your son/daughter is such a (fill in the blank insult)!”
No, no, no, don’t throw your sweetheart under the bus, don’t do that. You might feel pressured to, like if your partner is being a brat and you want to vent to someone who will understand. Or maybe it’s your partner’s parents who are giving your beloved guff, and you feel peer pressured to join in, or you think you’ll get points with the fam if you act like one of them and give your sweets grief, but this will just feel like mean ganging-up and you will get yelled at in the car on the way home, don’t do this, just maintain a default of sweetness and you’ll get through this thing, we promise.
Do you need help cleaning the house?
You may just be trying to be helpful, but this question basically feels like a passive-aggressive way of telling your partner’s family you think their house is a disaster. And look, even if it is, this is NOT something you want to say/imply. If you genuinely want to help, just say something to the effect of “Please, please give me something to help with, I get so antsy when I don’t have something to do, you’ll be doing me a favor by letting me help you.” You’ll be vacuuming in no time, you’re welcome.
“I actually don’t need advice, thanks.”
Okay, getting unsolicited advice is super-annoying, but reality check- how long is this advice sesh going to take? Five minutes? Ten? Fifteen? You are strong of heart and brave of spirit, you can muscle through that. And if the advice is REALLY getting longwinded, just start saying “Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU SO MUCH,” and then make up something you have to go do. You can spare a little patience for this well-meaning (albeit super-annoying) advice blitz.
Best of luck, loves! You’re going to do great, we believe in you!!!
(Images via 20th Century Fox, Giphy)