Meeting the parents can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. You’ve seen Meet the Parents, right? Even if they’re the nicest people in the world, the experience can be quite intimidating.

The parents have the home field advantage and you want them to like you, so you’re standing there like a smiling, nodding clown trying to find things to talk about without sounding like a fool.

Hey, we’ve all been there. So here are a few tried-and-test tips that will ease your nerves. Consider this invaluable relationship advice for building a healthy relationship with your partner and his family.

1. Preparation
Preparation has everything to do with it, especially when it comes to dressing the part. How you should dress for the event depends on where you’re meeting, but the key message is: better play it safe than sorry.

There is a caveat here. You shouldn’t want to portray someone you’re not, so the best course here is to dress a little more conservatively than your regular style. And cover up enough so that you’re not flashing too much flesh.

2. Acknowledge common “first meeting” conversation topics
When you meet someone for the first time, there are a few things that you’ll inevitably talk about. Most common being where you live, what you do, and future plans. Don’t over-compensate by going into a diatribe about your job or that you hate your room-mates, just keep it short and sweet with a funny anecdote or two.

3. Be polite, but be true to yourself
Of course, we want everyone to think that we’re happy and nice people. Even if you are, there is the chance that it will come off as insincere. You don’t have to be a yes-woman. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re not particularly fond of a certain type of wine (but avoid going into a five-minute criticism of a movie you hated that the parents loved).

4. Avoid certain topics
There are a few things that you shouldn’t talk about. Religion and politics are two of them – they’re hot button issues for most. Marriage or overtly gushing about their child are others.

Avoid talking about marriage, as it’s probably too soon. Oh, and they also know that their son is great. They raised him and they love him, so you don’t need to rave about how amazing he is. Keep it classy.

5. Win over the mum
This cannot be stressed enough; his mother is everything here. Most of the time, you’ll find that the dad couldn’t really care less as to who his son dates so as long as she is stable and makes him happy. However, this isn’t the case for mum.

In order to win her over, show her and her family respect, show an interest in her work, life and hobbies, and offer to help her with the dishes (if you’re having a meal at their place) or ask if you could get her a drink (if you’re meeting at a restaurant). Remember, she’s probably nervous too, so if you can show her you’re a normal person who cares about her son, you’ll alleviate a lot of her nerves.

Remember, the most important thing here is to be yourself! That’s the number one reason why you’re in this position in the first place, right?