This is a tricky one! Parents in general are not the easiest people to impress, and when you add Middle Eastern to the mix, the situation just became ten times harder. They are nosy, they are pushy, and they are very hard to get along with. By now my mom and dad are probably shaking their head and thinking, “No, no, that’s not us! We should have a talk with this one. Pshh, Saying we’re nosy and pushy and then posting it on the web.” I love you two and I really hope I don’t get in trouble for this! And to all other parents who come across this blog post, peace and love to all of you, trust me I know you do this for your children’s best interest… somehow.
But back to the issue, for some reason in Middle Eastern culture the horror of getting along with your in-laws is stressed everywhere throughout the media. There’s always something about and evil mother in law or a continuously pissed of father in law. I personally get extremely anxious when I introducing my parents to my friends in general, let alone my boyfriend (like that will ever happen). It’s as if their already prevalent judgment radar spikes and literally everything my friends say or do is taken into account and possibly used as ammunition against them. This phenomenon especially happens when I introduce my parents to my friends from different cultures. It usually goes down to a battle of traditions; on one side my brothers and I are trying to rationalize the importance of diversity, and on the other hand my parents defending the “perfection” of our culture.
By now, I’m sure you’re all wondering, “How in the hell do we get on their good side?”. So without keeping you all waiting, here are a few steps on how to impress Middle Eastern parents:
1) Continuous flattery. As I’ve mentioned in my first blog post, Arab’s are a proud bunch of people, so complementing them/their house/ their food/ their clothes/ their furniture/ their décor (virtually everything they own or do), will really go a long way. And thank them for everything! Just make sure to keep it natural, they know a try hard when they see one, and that never settles well.
2) Bring a gift or food platter. Preferably, make it something revolving Middle Eastern culture. If you show that you’re familiar with Middle eastern tradition it will definitely give them the ego boost they need.
3) Help around the kitchen. In the case you are invited to dinner, make sure you help the mom out in the kitchen, whether by bringing in the platters, or setting the table, or cleaning the dishes. Under no circumstance does doing nothing work to your benefit, always keep you hands full and your smile shining.
4) Know a thing or two about politics. If you have Middle Eastern friends, you already know that we are suckers for politics. There always has to be a good 30 minutes of the day that revolves around discussing politics in the Middle East. Whether it be about the new US foreign policies and the effect they will have on east, or about the political unrest around the Middle East, something is bound to come up. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you! Be prepared!
5) Impressive career path. If you work as a lawyer, doctor (or in any of the sciences), or engineer don’t think twice about casually slipping it in the conversation. There is a really odd obsession with these three professions in eastern culture. If you aren’t one of the above three, but you graduated from a prestigious university, make sure to mention that as well. Lastly, if you don’t fall under the above two categories, just make sure you make your profession sound like the most interesting, engaging and valuable field there is for the future.
Well I hope these points helped! Check out the below video by Fouseytoube, which shows other funny Middle Eastern parent’s characteristics. Skip to 1:47 to see the section that relates to todays post!