Winning over your boyfriend/girlfriend’s Chinese mom is never an easy feat—it’s especially true for Western folks. Age-old views often clash with the more liberal Western mindset. And, when they do butt heads, it’s usually not a pretty picture.
Unfortunately, many Chinese parents are stereotyped as domineering folks who constantly hold a tight leash, even on their adult children. They usually do it to secure their children’s success.
However, all this doesn’t mean you can’t win them over. Openness and being respectful are vital to impress your date’s Chinese mom.
Meeting your date’s Chinese mom anytime soon? You’ll need to put your best foot forward to earn their seal of genuine approval. But how will you do it?
What is a Chinese mom like?
Knowing what to do to impress your date’s Chinese mom is crucial. But, understanding what they’re like should be at the top of your list to nail down your goal. As such, we prepared a brief list for you to get a glimpse of how Chinese moms act around their kids.
1. They can be melodramatic
Chinese moms can be very dramatic at times. Others got it from watching C-dramas (or Chinese television dramas). When they see their (adult) babies in trouble—regardless of how trivial these problems are—they can’t help but get emotional. Many others will step in and help.
2. They still expect their children to ask permission when going out
Even if you’re already in your early 20s and employed, many Chinese moms still expect their children to ask permission when going out with friends. Other parents also implement a curfew that their offspring must remember; otherwise, they’ll have to sleep by the doorstep.
3. Some don’t allow their children to move out
Contrary to the lies told by other people, Chinese families—in general—are family-oriented. They don’t allow their kids to move out of the house, not so they can control them, but to stay close together. This is still true even when their kids are in their 30s and unmarried.
Eight Ways to Win Over Your Date’s Chinese Mom
Your date’s Chinese mom is just like any other mom in the world. They’re sweet, understanding, strong, and patient. However, there are nuances that you might not know about them and the Chinese customs that can earn you big brownie points should you follow them faithfully.
Proving to your date’s Chinese mom how much you respect and love your partner should be a fundamental step. But, these insider tips may be not very obvious—especially to foreigners—but are equally essential:
1. Dress modestly
Meeting your date’s Chinese mom is an enormous step to take. For many, it is something that should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, Chinese moms can get overprotective and a little judgemental of the person dating their kid. So, the very first step to consider when meeting your date’s mom for the first time is to look good.
No—you don’t need to wear a suit and tie or long gown for your first meeting. Anything you wear will be fine as long as you don’t sport anything distressed, revealing, or shirts with graphic images. Smelling good is also a plus point, so make sure you have a good shower and spray yourself with some fragrant perfume.
2. Prepare a gift for them
Before meeting your date’s mom, be sure to prepare a small gift for them. Now, this isn’t a bribe but a gesture of gratitude for inviting you into their home.
You don’t have to get them something expensive. Chocolates and fresh fruits—like a box of oranges—will do. But, avoid flowers, candles, and other typical Western gifts as some consider them impractical gifts.
Nevertheless, you can always consult your partner about the best present to get their mom when in doubt.
3. Address them respectfully
Although calling someone’s parents by their first names works well in the West, it might be considered disrespectful in Asia, specifically in China. With this, don’t greet your date’s Chinese mom by using their first names! When meeting your girlfriend or boyfriend’s Chinese mom for the first time, consult your partner first to avoid offending their mom.
You could always go with the classic ‘Mrs.’ Or, if you wish to be personal yet respectful, try calling them ‘Auntie.’ Others might find it strange, especially those raised in the West, but it’s a sign of respect in the Chinese culture.
4. Don’t wear your shoes inside the house
Your date’s mom won’t tell you not to wear your shoes inside their homes, but they’ll watch your every step and frown at every dust you leave. They’ll notice how you’ve been soiling their homes with dirt outside.
Hence, don’t wait for your date’s Chinese mom to ask you to take off your shoes. Earn plus points by wearing foot socks or leaving your shoes by the doorstep.
5. Ask if they need help
Service is huge in the Chinese culture—it’s an important love language for them. If you see your date’s Chinese mom doing something in the kitchen, offer your help. Do not sit around or wait for them to ask for help if you want to make a good impression.
And, while other Chinese moms will never ask for your help, the very fact that you didn’t offer one will matter. Yes—this will be a minus point against you in their imaginary record books.
6. Don’t serve yourself first during lunch (or dinner)
Remember not to serve yourself first when having lunch (or dinner) with your date’s Chinese mom. You can serve your significant other or their mom first, but yourself.
For many traditional Chinese moms, serving your partner first means you cherish your date and are capable of taking care of them. Meanwhile, offering food to your date’s mom proves that you respect them. After all, their mom is still (one of) the most important people in their lives.
7. Avoid being lovey-dovey in front of them
There’s nothing wrong with expressing your feelings towards your Chinese date. But, when you’re in front of their mom, you’ll definitely need to dial down the touching or kissing!
Being affectionate in front of your date’s Chinese mom is social suicide. It indicates a complete lack of respect for their mom and is just inappropriate at the dinner table.
8. Be open-minded
Being open-minded when being around your conservative date’s mom will be a lot easier for you.
Chinese families are devoted to their motherland’s culture. You can’t fault them for that, though. Remember that they might be taught to do so since they were old enough to understand nationalism or patriotism.
Additionally, their Chinese mom’s beliefs somehow (and sometimes) make them controlling and overbearing. Many traditional Chinese moms believe it’s okay to be involved in their children’s relationships.
If you happen to be a conservative person yourself, Chinese moms’ conventional tendencies may not be a problem. But if you’re the opposite, you’ll surely need to be extra patient and tolerant.
Whether or not their mom’s character and beliefs directly clash with your principles, it’s essential to adjust your tolerance levels. And, be open to learning the Chinese culture.
Have patience and hold on to hope!
Dating someone from a completely different country will take a lot of adjustments. And, sometimes, it will just come to a point where you just to be yourself—or just show your date’s Chinese mom your Western nature. However, it will benefit you most to be on good terms with their mom.
If your patience is almost up and you’re heavily culture-shocked, so are theirs’. Different upbringings are bound to clash, but if you’re set on ending up with your partner, you’d have to be the bigger person.