While most parents would probably prefer their daughters wait until after college to start dating, typically reality hits much sooner than that. On average, girls start dating in a group setting at age 12 1/2, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As your daughter ages and begins feeling more invested in her relationships, finding ways to put her boyfriends at ease will help you to get to know them better.
Check your own intentions. If you go into a meeting with your daughter’s boyfriend expecting to dislike him or already feeling uncomfortable with the fact that she is dating at all, he will likely pick up on this and not feel comfortable himself. Try to meet him with an open mind, giving him at least the chance to make a good first impression.
Look for his positive intentions. Even if he is awkward or struggling to engage in normal conversation, recognize the driving force behind that discomfort -- likely his feelings for your daughter. Seek out the good intentions in others to aid in positive first interactions, suggests neuropsychologist Rick Hanson.
Ask questions about the things that seem to interest him. Inquire about his future goals and sports teams he may enjoy watching. Show an interest in who he is as a person, and give him time to respond with a similar interest in getting to know you.
Remember to keep smiling. You want your daughter’s boyfriend to view you as friendly and approachable. Maintaining that smile on your face will help to ease some of the discomfort he may otherwise be feeling about meeting his girlfriend’s parents.
Recognize his achievements. By openly acknowledging the abilities of others, you can encourage them to continue achieving and reaching for more, notes Hanson. Being a voice of encouragement to your daughter’s boyfriend may help to endear him to you further.
Use your body language to set the tone. Lean forward as your daughter’s boyfriend speaks to show him that you are interested in what he has to say. Extend a handshake both before and after your introductions. Maintain eye contact and avoid looking distressed or distracted. He will pick up on all these nonverbal signals and will be more likely to respond to open and friendly gestures.
Continue to focus on the positive. Even if this is not the guy you necessarily envisioned for your daughter, strive to see his positive traits. Everyone has some virtues. Identifying and focusing on the virtues he possesses can help the two of you to forge a better bond.
Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.