When it comes to dating, getting your parent's approval can be nerve-racking. What are they going to think of your new SO? Will they like them? Will they make a scene if they don't? You never quite know exactly what your parents are looking for in a son or daughter-in-law. Here, parents share what they look for in their children's significant others, and how they reacted when their little ones first brought home a partner.
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#1 All Looks, No Brains
My 13-year-old daughter wanted me to meet her first "real" boyfriend. I was nice and pleasant, but I knew it wouldn't last because he was all looks and no brains. Of course, as junior high relationships go, it was about a two-month ordeal. I think all parents should try and be cordial unless the person feels like a criminal or something.
#2 Argued Politely
I first met one of my kids' partners when they both joined us on a weekend away. We had a discussion on some general subject in which he disagreed with me. He defended his position rather than defer to me. Good chap.
#3 They're Fair
My husband and I always "like" the person unless there's something terribly wrong with them. First of all, we want our kids to trust us and never to disregard our not liking a potential mate because "we never like anyone." Secondly, we would never want our kids to feel like they have to choose—it's their mate, not ours. Thirdly, most young people are fairly okay, so no point in acting like no one can be good enough for our precious babies.
#4 He Helped Out
You know your kid has brought home a good one when they interact and help out the rest of the family. When my daughter didn’t understand her homework and then her sister's boyfriend helped her, it showed how much he actually cared.
#5 He's Her Safe Place
My eldest is 15 and boys in high school can be...gross. The way they speak to girls (and girls to boys) is just so far out of line it makes me ill. But her boyfriend is respectful to her and her family. Most importantly, they're the same brand of weird. They facetime 19 hours a day I swear, but yesterday they had an entire conversation about penguins both using the same weird fake Russian type accent. He's her safe place and without very good cause, I'd never get in the way of that.
#6 He Appreciated Snails
My four-year-old daughter introduced me to the five-year-old neighbour kid as a boyfriend, she told me he's really good at running fast and he appreciates snails as much as she does. Needless to say, this is a keeper.
#7 15-Year-Old Devotion
My daughter and her fiancé have been together since the end of eighth grade. In their freshman year, she was in a big performance about three hours away and her then-boyfriend asked if he could ride with us to see her. Six hours alone in an enclosed space with the ' rents... I was very impressed. That's devotion from a 15-year-old. And he was friendly and made conversation the whole way, too.
#8 They Hit it Off
I said, "Whatever you do to my daughter, I will do to you." I've been stuck giving him emotional support and validation for three years.
#9 Dad was Right
Not a parent but my parents have talked about my boyfriends. They liked most of them but my dad said there was one he specifically didn’t like right away. I dated that guy for over a year before he cheated on me with his ex and left me for her. My dad said he didn’t like that guy because he reminded him of his ex-wife who did the same thing to him.
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#10 They Welcome with Open Arms
My mother has always been accepting of everyone I've ever dated, but realistic about their faults. My family immediately welcomes them with open arms, but just warns me if they seem "off" for whatever reason. I think it's a decent system.
#11 Be Accepting
As a parent, you have to be generally accepting or risk alienating your child, which leaves them with no support as they are too afraid to admit they are wrong. We have had both sides of the spectrum and can say we approached them with open arms. Funnily enough, it's always our friends who will tell our kids if they aren't right.
#12 Nerdy Guy
My parents both instantly liked the first super nerdy boy I brought home. He didn't even have to talk before my dad was beaming at him. It was weird, to be honest. I married the nerdy guy, so their instincts were good.
#13 It's a Game Off
My stepdaughter's boyfriend came into MY house and we were talking about computer games and he had the audacity to tell me why Red Dead 2 was better than God of War. IN MY HOUSE!! But respect to the lad for that, he stuck to his principals and a year later still argues with me about gaming stuff.
#14 Religious Views
Well, my mother's decision is 90 percent based on if she's Catholic or not. Can't say that I'm a fan of her method.
#15 Wrong Idea
My mother-in-law assumed I was some sort of player when I first met her before my first date with my wife. I even told my wife that she assumed I went on lots of dates back at school. Joke’s on her. I spent the entirety of my freshman year (the year before I met my wife) enjoying the sweet, sweet internet speed of my dorm room and playing the heck out of Halo 3, Mass Effect 1 & 2, picking up tipsy dormmates from house parties at 3 a.m., and going on exactly zero dates. After years of getting to know my MIL, she just didn’t want her daughter to get into a long-distance relationship, then end up moving out of state with me if we got married and I was still there (which ended up happening, whoops).
#16 Like Them Until They Give You a Reason Not To
I like all of them until they give me a reason not to. Then I never tell my daughter whether I like them or not, so I don’t influence her own judgement. I cannot choose for her, although sometimes I wish I could.
#17 She Knew
Not a mother but I'm a sister to a lovely brother. He had brought some girls to the house in his teenage years, and instantly I would know if I liked them or not. The first one he brought, was super rude with me and my parents. She would eat alone in the bedroom when we were having dinner, force my brother to be mean to me, etc.
A few months later, the relationship ended in a really bad way. After that he brought home some girls. I didn't talk so much with them but they were nice and sweet (didn't last long, less than two months). The last one he brought, when I talked to her, just one thought came to mind "she's the one." Five or six years later, here they are, living together.
#18 Kindergarten Love
My five-year-old has a "boyfriend" that's in her class and I honestly don't know how I feel. I've met him and he's a sweet kid, but oh my god she's like his drink wench.
#19 A Good Guy
When my oldest daughter introduced her first serious boyfriend, he was an awkward kind of guy, was pretty unremarkable, but he got super animated about topics that interested him. I had a chat with him about my daughter... he got animated. They've been married for nine years. Good guy, works hard, is a staunch advocate for his wife, and I love his smile when he looks at their kids.
#20 Politeness Goes a Long Way
It's about respect. If they're treating my kid, spouse or myself terribly in our own home, how do you think I'll feel? Some politeness goes a long way and of course, it's a two-way street.
#21 A Great Couple
My oldest son's first girlfriend was... not an emotional investment he was willing to make. She was pretty, but that was it. I scolded him, he got defensive, almost married her, but she made the mistake of asking my son about my money... About a year later he brought home a beautiful, talented woman with an electric personality and more self-confidence than even my eldest, and I was never more proud of him than when he took that dive. Their kids are incredible... great couple.
#22 Trust Your Feelings
I have always instinctively known within seconds of meeting them. I've liked all but one of my son's partners, and the one I didn't feel right about was the one who screwed him up.
#23 Dad's Views
Here's my dad's take. He liked my ex-boyfriend at first because he was initially polite and friendly, and I was very happy with him. However, my dad started to notice red flags later on and his opinion of him changed. For example, when we came back to my place from a day trip, he had sulked because I didn't show the enthusiasm he wanted about his favorite landmark. My dad told him that he should forgive me, but he still would not stop whining. My dad later told me that his reaction was blown out of proportion. Basically my dad would decide whether or not to like any guy I bring home based on the way he treats me.
#24 Dad Knows Best
Not a parent, but my parents were always fine with my boyfriends. My dad had a sixth sense though. He not only knew on instinct which of MINE were off, just off meeting them once (just off a feeling, so he never would've said anything to me), but he knew in two seconds of meeting him before junior prom that my best friend’s first boyfriend was super slimy and fake. And he was.
#25 Good Hairstyles
I don't have to like him. My daughter has to like him. Just like hairstyles. Doesn't matter if I like your hairstyle or not, you're the one who has to wear it. Now, if my daughter asks my advice, or asks my opinion, I'll be honest with her, even if it may hurt, because I care about her and I only want to see her happy. But if I'm not asked, I will welcome the guy, be friendly and kind to him, and keep my opinions to myself. Why? Because SHE chose him, and if that makes HER happy, then I'm happy.
#26 Not Up to Parents
It's not up to me to like them, it's up to her. If she does, then I do. I care that my daughter is safe, happy, motivated, and handling her own business. Apart from that, I'm just enjoying watching her experience things, and hoping she includes me in some of that.
#27 A Bitter Girlfriend
My youngest daughter has introduced me to a girlfriend from her trade school recently. Pretty sure she has been dating her for a couple of years. She's angry, contrary, and bitter. Under all that baggage it's hard to tell, but I'm hoping that my home can be a place where she can just let whatever angers her so much disappear for a while and I can find out who she actually is.
I've asked a good friend of my daughter's if there have ever been any signs of violence, as that's my only real concern, but so far it seems fine on that front. My youngest has always been a bit more subdued and contemplative than my others, so I'm hoping that whatever bitterness is in her girlfriend's life doesn't hurt her. This relationship is the most concerning one to me, because my daughter is a very sensitive person, and I fear for her happy, cheerful spirit.
It's a respect thing. Do they respect themselves? My son? My home? If the answer to any of those is No, then I do not like them.
#29 Put on a Face
I met my daughter's boyfriend the other day. Her first boyfriend. She’s 17. He’s 18. I must admit I was a bit nervous and I remember very well being 18 and what I was thinking and wanting, but I had a word with my self to be welcoming and warm and to treat him as an equal. He is my daughter's friend and therefore my friend. Anyway, he’s a nice young man so it’s all good. But to answer your question I guess if he’s nice I’ll like him and if he’s not, I won't. Either way as far as my daughter is concerned I’ll like him.
#30 Boy Crazy
My daughter is 10 and has been boy-crazy for basically ever. I'm sure that until she calms herself down that I will hate all of them.
I love to meet his girlfriends. In a very self-serving way, I think his ability to attract charming ladies reflects the quality of my parenting. On one hand, I like whoever brings joy to his life. On the other hand, I prefer to be around polite and well-spoken people. A bit of nervousness on her part indicates that meeting me is important to her.
#32 Red-Flag Behavior
My kids are 16 and 23. My goal as a parent now that they are old enough, is that they like me and respect me as a person, not just because I AM MOM. I think a huge part of that is keeping an eye out for red-flag behavior in either my kid or their partner, and letting the rest of it alone.
#33 Disliked Every One of Them
My kids are grown and gone but I disliked every boyfriend my daughter ever had—except for the one she married. I used to be a teenage boy and I know what teenage boys are after. It wasn't until many years later my daughter explained to me that a lot of teenage girls were after exactly the same thing.
#34 Benefit of the Doubt
I always give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that if my kid likes them, then they must be an okay person. I tend not to get super attached as my kid is only 18 and there will probably be more girlfriends in the future. Plus, I am not an overly emotional person who gets attached to many people. I have been lucky that my son has never brought home anyone that I didn't like at some level and I don't want to be that weird mom whose kid avoids bringing their dates around.
#35 Being Nice
I am nice to my son's girlfriend and my daughter's boyfriend. It's not my job to have an opinion on who they choose. If it all goes belly up, I'm there to support them until the next one goes wrong. Rinse and repeat until they find their "one" or I'm dead. I've been the hated boyfriend for no reason. It really sucks and affects the relationship.
#36 Playing Together
My six-year-old son has his first crush. We just moved into a new house, and on day two of living here the neighbor's granddaughter of the same age was over. I noticed her about the same time he did and told him he should go introduce himself. He decided to get down on all fours like a frog and started hopping around the yard.
Then she did the same. Then he stood up, walked over to her, and started meowing. She followed suit and they pretended to be cats for a good ten minutes before learning each other's names. She is exactly the same as my son and they get along beautifully when they're playing together.
#37 Dating Takes Guts
I love it! I've never disliked any one of them. Why? Because they're into my kid so much that they are willing to endure coming over for a home-cooked meal to meet me. That takes guts these days. Why? Because I ended up telling one girl that if she ever broke my son's heart, I would break her legs. She broke his heart. Twice. She's still walking. I'm all bark and no bite.
#38 Snap Judgement
My kid's not old enough yet, so let me instead explain how my parents screwed this up: they cared WAY too much about politeness. Politeness is a terrible proxy for whether someone's a decent person. A lot of teens are rough around the edges and not super comfortable in that situation. And it's not just teens, sometimes awkward or abrasive adults turn out to be wonderful people, and friendly and charming adults turn out to be utter sociopaths. Avoid superficial snap judgments.
#39 Trying to Like Her
My kids are small but I basically raised my brother. There's a 15-year difference between us. His new girlfriend is unique. I am trying to like her but she is very much on the spectrum and get overwhelmed by my four-year-old daughter. My little girl loves to hug people and doesn't understand why my brother's girlfriend freaks out when she gets too close.
My brother himself has anxiety issues and I worry they are feeding each other's negative emotions. It's hard to tell because she is shy but she seems nice and makes my brother happy so I am doing my best but it's hard not to have concerns. I can't really say anything to my brother because it sends his anxiety through the roof. His previous girlfriends were fine but they weren't serious relationships.
#40 Bad Boy Role
My son's first girlfriend is one of my favorite people ever. She and I still spend time together sometimes (like I took her to the movies) even though they broke up. I tried to give my daughter's first boyfriend as much consideration, but he kept doing dumb stuff that put her in the traditional "caring for the bad boy" role. I finally told her what I don't like about him and asked her how she would feel about him if she were the mom in the situation. To my daughter's credit, she was able to look at the situation objectively and then broke up with him.
#41 He Didn't Know What a Potato Was
Well, they've all been fine so far. Except for one. It's the only time I've ever gotten mad enough to kick someone out of my home. He tried to get me to believe that he didn't know what a potato was.
#42 The Dog Decides
We have an usual method, we let the dog decide. Seriously. We have two small dogs, a boy and a girl. Our kids are of the age where they have a lot of friends over including boyfriends and girlfriends. A lot of these are new friends we are meeting for the first time as the kids are entering into different groups/teams/social circles.
The girl pup insists on being the center of attention and greets every visitor with unabandoned glee - jumping, licking, tail wagging - you get it. On rare occasions, we noticed her behavior with a new visitor would be drastically different: after a brief initial greeting, she will back up a few feet, appear hyper-alert and bark continuously in a much higher tone like a high, panicky shrill. Maybe we've got a bad case of correlation bias but for now, we let the dog decide and she's never been wrong.
#43 Everything's Gucci
My daughter just started dating. She was mortified when I picked them up and asked if everything was Gucci.
#44 Don't Do What Mom Did
I’ve given my daughter the best advice I can give her and she’s leaps and bounds better at relationships than a lot of older adults I know (she’s nearly drinking age where we’re from). That’s not to brag though as a lot of what I told her was don’t do the same dumb stuff I did. Well, that and to always know her worth. The moment someone makes her feel less important than they are they get the boot.
#45 Welcoming Committee
Someone once told me, “I’m not part of the selection committee. I’m head of the welcoming committee."