Meeting the parents is an important step in a relationship and it can go amazing with you being welcomed into the family or it can go wrong and have you cringing with embarrassment every time you think about it. We have compiled a list of things to help you make the right impression when you meet African parents.
1. Be Respectful to the parents
Being respectful to parents is an absolute MUST in African culture. We are notorious for valuing respect especially to our elders and when you are invited to an African home, it is important you honour the leaders of the home. Greet them upon arrival and use formal greetings of 'Good evening sir' or 'Good evening ma'. Avoid using 'hello' or 'hi' which are much more informal and may be perceived as disrespect when addressing African parents. Do not address African parents by their first name under any circumstances, instead you may use 'uncle', 'aunty', 'ma', 'sir' and similar respectful titles.
2. Be Prepared
Prior to the day, find out more about the parents you’ll be visiting. What is expected and how are things done in that home? Do they prefer a formal cultural greeting like kneeling down for ladies or doing a ‘dobale’ (prostrating on the ground) for men? Are they more relaxed and receptive to hugs and kisses? Knowing these things in advance will make the day a lot easier as you’ll know more of what to expect and you’ll be less likely to leave a bad impression
3. Dress appropriately
Ensure you dress appropriately especially on your first visit. African parents are notoriously very judgemental and will assess your presentation. Do not wear something that exposes you inappropriately and avoid items like mini skirts and low cut tops that will have you pulling and tugging. Wear something you'll be comfortable in.
4. Offer to help
While you are in the home, offer to help in any way you can from cooking to washing dishes to setting the table. It is another sign of respect and it will most certainly be appreciated. It is also a sign that you have become one of the family because you are being a part of the members of the family usually do.
5. Get involved in the conversation
One thing that is always incredible is the conversation and the banter with African parents. Try not to be shy and get involved in the discussion. If you've been invited, they are interested in getting to know you so make it a wonderful experience by participating and enjoying yourself.