6 Things Every Gringa Needs to Do to Win Over the Suegra
One of my gringa friends is dating a Latino and things are getting very serious. Next month, she's going with him to Mexico to meet his familia for the first time so she asked me for some tips on how to win over her future suegra. I told her that she has to ser zalamera. In Chilean terms this means that she'll have to suck up to her to make a good impression. Otherwise, she'll be blacklisted not only by her potential suegra but by the brothers, tios, primos and beyond.
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She needs to bring a gift: I remember when my American friend went to Chile with me and we stayed with my parents. She came empty handed. Her thoughts were to buy a gift at the end of her visit. I don't think I heard the end of it. "It's not about buying an expensive gift," they'd say. Chocolates, soaps for the bathroom or a bottle of cheap wine will do. It's the gesto that counts.
Make sure you eat her food: when my pobre gringo and I were dating, my husband must have eaten every part of the cow and pig – prieta (blood sausage), tongue, guatitas (tripe) and even pig's feet – that my abuela spent all day preparing with such pride and love. He drew the line one night, after we had dated for months, with riñones (kidneys). But by then he had earned the right!
Say a few words in Spanish: when we were dating, my husband wished he had taken Spanish instead of French in school. Every time he'd come over to see me ( I lived with my abuelitos) he made sure he had mastered a few key words in Spanish – gracias, de nada, mucho gusto, que rico and others. Even though he'd say them with a heavy gringo accent, my abuelos would celebrate the effort!
Show respeto and don't be too confianzudo (entitled is the closest translation that I could come up with): although times are changing. Most folks in Latin America still expect respect from those who are younger. My parents used to hate when my friends didn't say their proper hellos and goodbyes. And it would drive them absolutely nuts when my guy friends wouldn't take off their baseball caps during meal time. And, no one was allowed to open the refrigerator without asking for a formal permiso!
Be extra concerned about your personal appearance: at least for the first few visits or until you marry him, make sure you are dressed "properly" so no one in the family starts to chismear about what you wore the first time you met the familia. Pay extra attention to detail – the hair, the makeup and even the perfume you use.
Don't rag on your significant other in front of the familia: in fact I would go the extra mile and in front of the suegra totally pamper him. I remember when my abuela came to visit me in the states she'd iron my husband's shirts because she thought I was failing him as dutiful, Latina wife. And whatever you do – do not rag on him, humiliate him or disrespect him in front of the familia or they'll make sure to guilt him into leaving you.
Did I leave any tips out? Please share your advice so that my friend can win over her potential suegra as well as his familia.
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