When Should The Parents Meet Each Other?

Meeting the parents — you meet his, he meets yours — is always a big milestone in a relationship. But what is less discussed but equally as stressful is when both of your parents meet each other. At some point when things have gotten mucho serious they kind of have to meet, right?

My mother is really into etiquette books and she claims parents should meet each other once there’s an engagement. But I know that’s not true — in fact, my parents have met the parents of a couple of my ex-boyfriends!

Family is hugely important to me and it seems weird that my boyfriend and I spend almost every weekend with one of our families, but they’ve never met each other. Still, I can’t complain. In fact, I’m kind of stressing the big “Meet The Fockers” moment: My mom and dad have zilch in common with my ex-boyfriends’ parents. Mom and Dad are old-school Connecticut WASPs who drink martinis, smoke, vote Republican, and love red meat. They have lots of kids, lots of young grandkids, and lots of pets, so chaos is the order of the day. In recent years, everything in their house either has had cat hair or Magic Marker stains on it. (A step up from baby puke, in my opinion.) Their idea of a good time would be throwing back some hard liquor, covering the kitchen table with old newspapers, and then ripping apart lobsters with our bare hands.

My boyfriend’s parents would make Jillian Michaels weep with joy. His mother is from China, so she cooks a lot of healthy, traditional Chinese food. His father is a vegan. Both of them work out a few times a week and spend all weekend hiking or playing tennis or golf. Neither drinks nor smokes. Their beautiful house is absolutely pristine, in part because their one and only cat is not allowed to sit on the sofa. Their idea of a good time would be rising early for a brisk game of tennis, followed by a day-long hike and then steamed vegetables for dinner.

Yeah, the “Meet The Fockers” potential abounds. I hope when they finally meet — after a formal engagement, I guess — that they’ll get along. I suppose they will have to stay away from all topics health- and exercise-related, as well as pet ownership. Politics will probably also be a no-no, too. So, yeah, I’m not purposefully trying to keep them from meeting, but I’m not rushing things along, either.

When do you think is the right time for two sets of parents to meet each other? After an engagement? Before then? Not until the wedding day? What happens if you cohabit but never get married? When the first grandkid is born?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.