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How To Navigate Meeting Bae’s Family For The First Time

Love & Relationships

Navigating the holidays can be tricky when you start dating someone new. You're either faced with spending the holidays separately – each of you enjoying time with your own families – or spending time with each other's family. Depending on how serious your new relationship is, your partner may convince you to do the latter: meet their family for the first time.


While it can be a momentous occasion, it can also be nerve-racking. The "throw-you-right-into-the-fold" method of introduction can be anxiety-inducing. However, as intimidating as it may seem, if your partner didn't think you could handle it, they wouldn't even propose the idea. So, you will go – you must go! – and the following tips will ensure you survive the evening unscathed.

1. Dress for the occasion.

As we all know, the first impression anyone has of us is based on what they see. It's important to understand the occasion and follow the family's tradition when it comes to attire. You don't want to wear your favorite holiday dress if the family tradition is to wear onesies. Likewise, you don't want to be too dressed down if the family plans to serve you on their best china. The goal is to show how well you can mesh with the family – not necessarily stand out. When it comes to attire, it's important to follow your partner's lead. While you may not be the type to judge someone by what they wear, there are tons of aunties and cousins who will, so paying attention to attire is imperative.

2. Don’t arrive empty-handed.

There are few things more insulting to a hostess than arriving empty-handed. If you're going to someone's house for the first time – especially for an event as important as Thanksgiving – it's critical to bring something. Find out what the hostess likes – whether it's wine, Tito's Vodka, or Godiva Chocolates – to bring as a "thank you for having me" gift. Tip: play it safe and avoid bringing a food item; things can go south real fast if the family doesn't like the way you seasoned the turkey wings.

3. Offer to help.

It doesn't take much to wipe down the counter or set the table. Extending a helping hand can go a long way. Even if the family doesn't actually need help, offering displays selflessness, helpfulness, and a willingness to be independent from your partner to impact the greater good. It also shows that you're not afraid to roll your sleeve up and get to work, and that you're able to 'take care' of their beloved family member. They may turn it down, but offering to help will certainly leave a lasting impression.

4. Put the phone down!

It's a shame I have to say this, but nothing ruins a genuine in-person connection quite like a smartphone in your face. Minimizing your phone usage will allow you to better connect with the people you're there to meet. Interrupting dinner or disengaging because of a text conversation or social media debacle can be disrespectful and offensive. Enjoy time with your partner's family without constantly checking your phone.

5. Ask meaningful questions.

This step is critical. While it may seem that the benefit of meeting the family is for them to get to know you, it is also the perfect time for you to get to know them. Use this moment to ask questions about your bae's childhood and show interest in the people around you. Ask about their career choices and personal passions. Get to know their favorite memories and some of their greatest lessons. Displaying a genuine interest in getting to know them will allow them to want to get to know you more. And it'll put a smile on their face knowing that you actually care.

6. Be authentic.

You want people to get to know you for you – that requires authenticity. You do not have to fake the funk to get them to like you. The point of them getting to know you, is to get to know YOU, not who you think they should know. Don't parade around to be someone you're not for the sake of their approval. Instead, honor the woman you truly are and showcase her. Show them why your beau wants to date you in the first place. Laugh at the jokes that you think are funny. Share your personal stories. Explain the work you do and why it's meaningful. You can even share about your own family who you probably miss at this point. The purpose is, allow yourself to be yourself. Don't put on a façade to impress anyone – mothers and grandmothers can see right through that. Instead, be you.

7. Don’t take anything personal. 

In some extreme circumstances, a family may not be as welcoming as you'd expect. Often, that behavior has nothing to do with you, but with the family member themselves. Don't be down on yourself because of it. People will have their opinions; if the family is decent, they will at least repress those opinions until after you leave. If they don't, however, it's not you, it's them. Understand that there are family dynamics, histories, and past behaviors that have nothing to do with you. Don't pick up what they're putting down and get discouraged. Instead, pile through with the good spirit you had walking in.

8. Just breathe. 

This is just the first of what may be many meetings. They will not get to know all that you are on this day alone – not with all the football, cooking, and food comas that'll be going around. This is simply their introduction to you – and you, them. Don't stress yourself out about what this day will bring; instead, delight in leaving your bae's family and friends with a great first impression of you!

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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