So.. escuchaste mis consejos (you heard my advice) from our other articles and you’re finally dating that Spanish speaker of your dreams… but now you’ve been invited to their place and you’re freaking out porque ¡VAS A CONOCER A LOS PAPÁS! (because you’re going to meet his/her parents!!!!)
¡No te preocupes! (Don’t worry!) En este artículo vas a aprender (in this article you will learn) what you will need to not only survive, but to thrive when you meet tus suegros (your in-laws).
En México es común (in Mexico it’s common) to use the word SUEGROS (In-Laws) to refer to the parents of your significant other, even if you’re not married. It’s like, once a relationship is “formal” —in the sense that it is relatively long—, a lot of people use the word suegra (mother-in-law) for the mother of their partner or suegro (father-in-law) as terms of endearment. Actually, the diminutive is often preferred: suegrita o suegrito.
I wonder if the same is true in other countries in Latin America…
1. Greet Properly
Primero que nada (first of all), learn the right pronunciation of their names. When you meet them for the first time and even if they go by their first name, use the formal usted. This always gives a great first impression!
For a further oomph, add an honorary. For males, we use Don plus the first name, or Señor plus the last name; for females, we use Doña plus the first name, or Señora plus last name.
Let’s say the name is María Rodríguez; you can say:
- Buenas tardes, señora Rodríguez. (Good afternoon, Ms. Rodríguez.)
- Buenas tardes, Doña María. (Good afternoon, Ms. Rodríguez.)
Let’s say the name is Antonio López:
- Buenas tardes, Don Antonio. (Good afternoon, Mr. López.)
- Buenas tardes, señor López. (Good afternoon, Mr. López.)
After the initial greeting, always ask how they are doing, and here’s when the formal usted comes: ¿Cómo está?
When you ask this, they’ll probably tell you: ¡Háblame de tú! or ¡Puedes tutearme!
Follow their lead when it comes to greetings: a handshake for the father, but most likely it is a kiss on the cheek and a hug for the mother.
Even if you’re not personally introduced to everyone in the room, make sure you acknowledge everyone even if it’s just by waving and saying “buenos días” or “buenas tardes”… You never know! Perhaps Aunt Rosita was there and you overlooked her and now you’re gonna go to history as: el que no saludó a la tía Rosita (the one who didn’t greet Aunt Rosita).
2. Make yourself useful
Mexicans use the word “acomídete“, which may be translated as “Volunteer”!” But it loses so much with this translation.
Acomídete is what my mom used to tell me I should do whenever I was a guest in another family’s house or just in general, if she saw me being idle, which tienes que saber (you have to know), is like the worst sin you can commit as a Mexican.
¡Acomídete! (Make yourself useful!)… Yeah, that’s a better equivalent.
You see the mom coming with some cups:
- Yo le ayudo, señora. (I’ll help you, ma'am.)
You see the dad bringing in some chairs:
- Yo le ayudo, señor. (I’ll help you sir.)
3. Impress them by speaking fluent Spanish
La mejor manera (the best way) to impress your in-laws is by being able to speak fluent Spanish with them!
If you’re constantly stumbling, looking for the right words, afraid of making mistakes or accidentally offending your in-laws, es difícil causar una buena impresión (it’s difficult to make a good impression).
But if you don’t have to worry about your Spanish anymore, you can talk freely, show up as the interesting person you are, y causar una buena impresión (and really make a good impression).
If you’d like some help with improving your Spanish, check out our Free Spanish training where you'll discover the method that we use at our Spring Spanish Academy to teach fluent Spanish to our students. You even get some free sample lessons from the Academy there!
4. Stand up straight
Por favor, ¡confía en mí! (please trust me!)… If you’re slouching, this is gonna come up in the comments that will follow right after you leave. Don’t make your partner’s life SO difficult!
Las mamás latinas (Latin moms) spend like 80% of their time correcting their children’s posture. So, trust me! They don’t want their beloved children falling for somebody que se joroba (that slouches)!
5. Finish everything on your plate
If you meet your in-laws, it is likely that it would be en un contexto social (in a social context). So, chances are there will be food involved.
Don’t you dare to not finish todo el plato (the whole plate). Not doing this can be interpreted in a number of ways:
- They didn’t finish their food, they didn’t like it. Por lo tanto (therefore), they’re horrible people!
- What kind of sick person doesn’t like [insert any kind of Mexican dish]?
- They are so ungrateful AND wasteful!
- Even if they were full, why didn’t they say so? They’re so ungrateful and WASTEFUL.
Desperdiciar la comida (wasting food) is another major sin for Mexicans. So, please! Just don’t!
6. Be extra nice to your SO, but no touchy, touchy
Cuando conoces a tus suegros (When you’re meeting your in-laws for the first time) make sure to show courtesy to your significant other. This is not the time to be teasing or telling inside jokes.
Sé amable (be nice), offer them drinks, laugh at their jokes, open doors for them, move their chair, do all the nice little things we do for the people we care about, minus PDA, okay?
Agarrarse de las manos (Holding hands) and a kiss on the cheek are okay, but that’s it! We Mexicans and Latinos, en general, are all passionate, but tend to be quite conservative when it comes to the physicalities of love!
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I’ve realized that the majority of things that make up my lists are things that my mom tells me to do to be a better version of myself when interacting with others. So, I guess that in order to impress Mexican in-laws, you just have to act as if you yourself were a good Mexican son or daughter?!???
Muy bien, mi gente, ¡gracias por quedarse hasta el final! (thank you for staying until the end!) You’re the best! Let me know in the comments how meeting tus suegros went!
And to get your Spanish to the next level when meeting them the next time, make sure to find out about the method we use to help you learn Spanish much faster in our free Spanish training.