Introducing your boyfriend to your father for the first time is a major step. It means that your relationship is not fly-by-night, and it's worth overcoming the cringe-worthy scenarios you're undoubtedly imagining. To make sure this encounter will be successful, you have to understand your father's concerns and prepare yourself emotionally for what can become, for better or worse, one of your lifetime memories! If your father is a first generation Latino, chances are he expects you to live at home until you get married. He probably finds divorce unacceptable. He was raised to believe that relatives are more important than friends and worries that you are not as attached to traditional values as he would wish. So how can you communicate to him how much it means to you that he likes your guy? Definitely not by sneaking behind your father's back. The answer lies in listening carefully to what your dad says. Before bringing your boyfriend home, make sure you tell your dad you love him for wanting the best for you and that this guy makes you feel happy and cared for. Ask him to be grateful that you are with someone who treats you so well. If he is uncomfortable with your choice based on racism, classism, or religious biases, he's probably concerned with how the rest of the family will react, and if you will be labeled. Tell him quietly you do not share his views and can't live your life according to opinions you don't consider valid. Try to make it clear you are in a relationship, not the middle of a debate about social justice. If he objects on other grounds, try to stay calm while you consider whether any of his concerns are reasonable. If he finds fault with your boyfriend's reputation, listen to what he's heard, who he's heard it from, and when he heard it. If what he tells you is brand-new to you, you will have to ask a few questions and honestly look at the answers you are given. Is the source unreliable? If he finds fault with your boyfriend's behavior, is he out of line or does he have a point? Be prepared to point out if he is being nitpicky or blinded by his love for you. If he is disturbed by changes in your behavior that he blames on your boyfriend, he just might be having trouble with the fact that you are in love and growing up. But if he is in any way justified in his complaints, remember love rarely changes us in ways that are dangerous or self-destructive. Using respectful language and behavior in your everyday interactions is important. Acting respectfully demonstrates maturity, and your dad is more likely to see you as capable of making important decisions if he sees you caring about how he feels. Always be truthful even if he doesn't like the truth, never sneak around and never give up trying to understand where he's coming from.
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