So, you’re dating a Latina and maybe things are going pretty. You’ve been on some dates and there’s some serious chemistry that’s building up.
You’re probably starting to think that you’re going to have a pretty long relationship with her and maybe even marry her. There’s just one little hitch — you’ve got to win over her family and you know basically nothing about winning over a Latin family.
Maybe you think that you can just go ahead and wing it. Maybe you think that since your natural charm won over one member of the family — your girlfriend — then it should be enough for the rest of them.
You may be right, to some degree. But to an even greater one, you’re pretty wrong. You’re going to need to have a plan of action if you want your girlfriend’s family to like you enough that they’ll be inclined to pop champagne when you pop the question.
Get on your knees and pray.
When a lot of European powers spread and colonized large parts of the world, a historical shorthand for their three primary motivations was developed: God, glory, and gold. Spain was not cut from a different cloth than the rest of its colonial contemporaries.
Latin America, which was colonized entirely by Spain with the notable exception of Brazil, is pretty Catholic.
Catholicism is so deeply embedded in the cultures of various Latin American countries that it’s basically law to a lot of families. Many of them aren’t keen on their daughters marrying men who aren’t Catholic. Though they might be a little less wary of a man who is pious in general.
If you’re not all that religious, keep your mouth shut about matters of faith lest her family see you as some godless heathen leading their daughter down a path of sin. If you’re not practicing, then you’re going to have to pretend or imply that you’re pious.
Get her dad to like you.
In many Latin American cultures, the man of the house is the head of the table. The patriarch. The boss. The person whose word is akin to law.
And you’re going to have to convince him that you’re good enough for his little girl, his princess, the apple of his eye.
You’ve probably seen it in a million movies or tv episodes — guy meets his girlfriend’s father, and the girlfriend’s father takes an immediate dislike to him. Maybe he wins his girlfriend’s father over in the end. Maybe not.
But if life is to imitate art, you’re going to want to fall closer to the former than the latter because that’s what’s going to work for your long-term prospects. Remember that some parents have veto power over their children’s choices and that includes the people they’re romantically involved with.
If you want to win the man over, then you have to show him that you’re ready, willing, and able to take care of his daughter the way he feels she deserves to be taken care of.
Since the father is the head of the family, winning him over goes a long way towards winning the family over. It doesn’t mean that the job is all the way done, but you’ve gotten over the first major hurdle.
Win over her mom.
Her dad isn’t the only parent you’ve got to win over. You’ve got to get her mom to like you. The dad may be the head of the table, but the mom is sitting at the other end directly across from him. Her opinion is going to carry a lot of weight.
If you want to win her over, you’re going to need to compliment her. Maybe express amazement at how young she looks and how she looks more like your girlfriend’s sister than her mother.
Also, eat everything she cooks. A lot of Latina women take pride in their ability to cook so even if it’s not to your taste, pretend that it is.
Offer to help with chores like cleaning up. Even if they don’t take you up on the offer, you’re still going to score some brownie points by just making the offer. Now, if they do take you up on it, do it with a smile on your face, because that might put a smile on hers and help you with your overall goal of getting the family to sign off on you.
Speak a little bit of Spanish.
If you’re fluent in Spanish, great. Bust it out and use it liberally. If you’re not already fluent, then you need to learn some as fast as you possibly can. You don’t have to become fluent, but knowing her family’s native tongue is going to go a long way towards ingratiating yourself to them.
In a lot of Latin American countries, it’s not unusual to have a multigenerational household. You may find that it’s not just her parents that are living in the house, but her grandparents as well. Be nice to them because that makes you look like a stand-up guy.
If all else fails, feed everyone.
If everything you’ve done so far falls short of winning over your girlfriend’s family, then you’re going to have to go ahead and feed them. Take everyone to a nice restaurant, ply them with food and drink, and pick up the table at the end of the night.
Does outright bribery seem somewhat underhanded to you? If it does, it’s because it is. But that’s fine. You’re trying to get your girlfriend’s family to like you. Scruples might impede you from your goal.
And remember that all’s fair in love and war.
Family is the most fundamental aspect of any society and it provides the foundation for who a lot of people are. They’re also one of the earliest and most important social systems that a person will ever encounter.
Because of how foundational they are to a person, their opinions will hold water even when a person lives independently. So when it comes to opinions, it’s important that they have a good one of you.