“I need some help because I’m kinda panicking over here… my daughter is bringing her girlfriend home next week and, while I ok’d it and said I wanted to meet her (this is the first time I will be meeting one of my daughter’s significant others since she came out), all of a sudden I’m getting really nervous! What if I say the wrong thing? What if it’s awkward? My husband is less excited about meeting her, which only makes me more nervous about how it will all unfold. Help!!”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Polly and Shelby Kim
Polly and Shelby Say:
Hi there! First of all, it’s great that you want to meet your daughter’s girlfriend and that she’s coming over. If your daughter is bringing her girlfriend home, then she must want you to meet her girlfriend and for her girlfriend to meet you. That’s a good sign! She doesn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of her girlfriend or of you, and she’s not too worried that you’ll say the wrong thing or that it will be awkward. She must know that you support her and love her. It’s normal for you to feel a little nervous, but let’s see if we can reduce the panic and ensure that the girlfriend feels welcome and comfortable in your home.
Are you nervous because you’re meeting your daughter’s significant other for the first time, or because the significant other is a girlfriend? It’s normal to feel nervous about your child bringing home a significant other, regardless of gender. This is an important person in her life—it will be exciting to meet her, and you want to make a good impression. You being a little nervous is normal, and it shows you care a lot and want to support her relationship and don’t want to do anything to mess it up.
If the nerves are because you’re still coming to terms with your daughter’s sexuality, that’s okay too. Seek support and resources, such as your local PFLAG chapter or the PFLAG National website, other articles on this website, and the book This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids. If your daughter only recently came out, it’s normal to not be fully comfortable with her having a girlfriend yet. Even if you feel totally fine with her being queer, knowing she has a girlfriend and you’re about to see them together may make it more “real” and bring out more feelings that you are yet to work through.
Since you are worried about maybe saying the wrong thing, it being awkward, and how it will all unfold, prepare ahead of time and discuss some things with your husband and your daughter so everyone has the same expectations and there are no big surprises. It seems like your husband’s feelings and possible reactions are worrying you, so I recommend you have a talk with him. Share the helpful resources you discover and listen to his concerns. When the girlfriend arrives is not the time to find out how he really feels. If you can’t totally bring him on board supporting this relationship, at least agree on how he will act to avoid negativity during the visit. Discuss sleeping arrangements ahead of time and come to an agreement so you present a united front. Let your daughter know your decision ahead of time so any disagreements won’t occur in front of her girlfriend.
Lastly, talk to your daughter. Ask how she and her girlfriend reference their relationship. Never call her girlfriend her “friend”—that makes it seem like you are not taking their relationship seriously or you are trying to hide it. Ask if and how they want to meet and be introduced to relatives and friends during the visit. Discuss what they want to do during the visit, how much alone time and space they want vs. family activities. Talk to your daughter about what her girlfriend will call you and your husband, and whether a hug would be welcome as you greet each other. Let your daughter know that you are looking forward to meeting her girlfriend, and make sure she has told her girlfriend that you are supportive of their relationship.
It’s also ok to let your daughter know that you are a little nervous for the visit because you want this to go well. Ask her if she has any worries and for advice on avoiding faux pas. What does she hope the meeting will be like, and what are her expectations? Ask her if she has met her girlfriend’s parents and how that went, and how it could have been more comfortable for her.
Above all, try to remember what it was like meeting your significant others’ parents when you were dating, and having them meet your parents. If having your parents tell embarrassing stories about your childhood and showing photos taken during puberty was awkward, you know you should avoid that. You want to be friendly, welcoming, and supportive, but you know you shouldn’t overdo it. Be yourself. If yourself dresses in rainbows and has Pride flags all over the house, so be it, but don’t try too hard to make a big deal about this being a same-sex relationship. Show genuine interest in your daughter’s girlfriend, and strike a balance between being interested and grilling her with questions. She is probably more nervous than you are, as the outsider coming into your home. Don’t worry about being perfect—she’ll remember how you made her feel, not exactly what you said. Welcome her and make her feel accepted, and enjoy meeting this special person in your daughter’s life!
Polly Kim is the mother of 22-year-old twins, including a daughter who came out at age 15. Polly joined PFLAG Los Angeles soon after and is now a board member. She has been a science teacher for over 25 years, teaching high school biology, elementary school science, and high school science research.