Meeting the Chinese Parents in America | Speaking of China

11 Responses

  1. Kelly
    Kelly March 4, 2011 at 2:17 am | | Reply

    I would say to just be friendly and take your cues from them, as all families are different (even Chinese families). When I met my husband’s grandma for the very first time, I had barely gotten the words, “Ni hao” out of my mouth before she wrapped me up in a big bear hug!!
    Follow their lead, and your boyfriend’s, and be yourself. 🙂

  2. ellis
    ellis March 4, 2011 at 4:14 am | | Reply

    This is all great advice! And I agree with Kelly above, definitely take the cues from the family. Who knows, they may go for a hug because it’s ‘American!’

    It’s really good that you’re making the effort to find out how to greet them, and it’s definitely a good idea to keep learning about their culture. This may sound small, but learn how to use chopsticks if you don’t know how. You’ll probably be eating some Chinese food while their stateside and maybe well into the future. I speak from experience when I say Chinese will love if you can use chopsticks like a natural.

    Don’t worry *too* much. The fact that you’re taking initiative is really positive, and just keep asking and learning. Good luck!

  3. 陌客
    陌客 March 4, 2011 at 5:28 am | | Reply

    ellis is Right
    just hug them (入乡随俗=when in Rome, do as the Romans do,Right? )LOL! they will love it!
    Don’t worry and Relax

  4. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian March 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm | | Reply

    Jocelyn, I think you got it pat down when it comes to understanding Chinese culture, especially that part about 吃过饭了马(have you eaten?). ellis, I agree with you about using or trying to use chopsticks. That will impress. I am not too sure about the hugging part, unless of course you want to give the boy’s parents a shock ! If, however, the parents are modern, not the conservative type, then it may be alright. But there is no need for rush here.

  5. Sarah
    Sarah March 5, 2011 at 4:47 am | | Reply

    Personally I would avoid hugging, If its there first time visiting America, Then there bound to be experiencing lots of other types of culture shock, So I don’t think it would be a good idea hugging them. I think using even some simple Chinese like Ni hao etc and using chopsticks will impress them and show them that you are trying your best

  6. Woman
    Woman March 5, 2011 at 5:11 am | | Reply

    Do not forget to ask after their other children and family members!!!! It will show them that you are not just interested in your boyfirend but his family as well. When they come to your home, have some slippers for them to wear as well.

    If his mother- or his father even, enjoying cooking, while you are eating and if you made the Chinese dishes suggested, ask about how his mother would cook it, or how her’s taste.

    Big thing I have always found with Chinese men, thier mothers feel as if we want to steal them away and not want them to be Chinese anymore!!!! Take your cues from them. You’ll be fine!!!!

  7. a
    a March 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm | | Reply

    Love truly is blind, but the true beauty of it lies beneath it. As a man that grew in very traditional Chinese (thought me my self is a rebel) value even make me prouder as Chinese rather known by my registered nationality. I knew that man from my kind of the sort never show the affection, love openly for it meant and so private for us, so please be patient and above of all be your self. For we the traditional dudes always love to seek the real thee. So don’t be another person that you’re not although you must adapt a little bit in the Chinese basic tradition.

  8. a
    a March 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm | | Reply

    And as the parents, well they love the children more than anything at all thought some quite shy to show it. If meeting with the parents then be your self and not to openly showing up unless that your man and parents give a clue to be go ahead. An open word like ni hao would do the trick if you don’t know the Chinese language so much.
    And as I said before that the parents if you can make a good impression especially at the first meeting (remember always be your self for they have very keen sense to know that you’re just act or not) as a good person that you are and you love their son above of anything, trust me soon or later they shall melt. The affection not always by the gift but also attention and care. Last but not the least we’re the Chinese if you married to us then you married to the whole package especially if a man for Chinese man has the honor to care and protect their family especially if that man the sole male in the family and like wise we also shall gave care to your family too, for this the way not only we show our love to our spouse but also it also the duty and honor that must not be avoided, so I guess good bye Elder home.

  9. doorhalfopen
    doorhalfopen March 10, 2011 at 3:01 am | | Reply

    Hugging is a bad idea. That would make you even more of a foreigner. I would approach everything with the assumption that they are still open minded upon the first impression. Make sure you make them comfortable in terms of culture and behavior. I think the blog did a good job, but I would definitely expect the ice to melt very gradually rather than right away. Once you win their approval though, I would imagine it’s smooth sailing!

  10. American Girlfriend
    American Girlfriend March 10, 2011 at 11:52 am | | Reply

    Oh thank you! I’m glad you were able to help me. I was able to ask my boyfriend to start teaching me Chinese this past weekend, and I’ve been practicing all week. I have a few words down. (I think!)

    The exciting thing is that as I learn more about the Chinese culture and his parents, I share the information with my family. Now we have started a list of ideas for gifts for his parents.

    Thankfully, I already know how to use chopsticks since I’ve used them for almost 2/3 of my life. Actually, my boyfriend has commented that I’m better with chopsticks than with a fork and knife. He told his parents and they were so excited that their son was dating a girl who could use chopsticks.

    Again, thank you for all the wonderful help and ideas. I’m so glad I stumbled across this corner of the web.

  11. DAn Yeh
    DAn Yeh June 8, 2017 at 9:51 am | | Reply

    Boy, am I glad that didn’t have to follow follow all these old traditions. I never mentioned my western fiancee to my parents because I didn’t want them to object, get nosy and keep poking as they are known to do, well intended that it might be. Living 2500 miles away ( I was in Honolulu and they were in San Francisco) really helped with my news blackout. When we decided to get married, then I introduced her to them. They had nothing to say about my choice. Both my brother and I never really took to heart the parents’ edict of “thou shall marry a Chinese girl”. Of course it helped very much that my brother and I never had to be subsidized financially by my parents. My California native cousins did and boy did their parents keep them on a short leash on a choice of mates.
    My parents didn’t utter any objections after my “unveiling” of a fiancee and they learned to accept her 100% in about a year.

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