6 Tips For Meeting and Impressing the (Chinese) Parents

Are you about to meet the Chinese parents? Are you worried about how to make a good impression?

If so, never fear, the basic cheat sheet of how to woo Chinese parents is here!

I initially threw this together for my non-Chinese significant other as I have very traditional Chinese parents and noticed that friends of mine were in the same boat, so I thought I would share. Hopefully it’s helpful! 

1. Never Stop Pouring Tea

Chinese tea is usually drunk out of tiny teacups. As a sign of respect, you should park yourself near the teapot (or just grab it) and keep everyone’s – ESPECIALLY the parents’ – teacups full at ALL times. There should never be an (god forbid) empty teacup for longer than 3 seconds.

I don’t care if you’re trying to expound on your five-year plan under one parent’s intense, skeptical scrutiny. If the other parent’s teacup is almost empty or completely empty, use your peripheral vision to reach for the teapot and fill ‘er up.

Anticipate. Keep an eye on all the teacups on the table at all times.

Pro tip: Once you’ve poured tea, remember to hover. The parent may immediately drink all the tea you just poured and put down an empty teacup. You need to hover and refill so you’ll always withdraw with your task accomplished.

2. Offer Them The Best Food

No matter if you’re at a restaurant or at their home, always offer the best bits of food to the parents. What do I mean by offer? There are several ways:

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#tbt: Haggling Granny

haggling granny

Zhouzhuang village, Zhecheng county, Henan province, April 2013

All the elderly women we saw were carrying bundles of straw. Deftly weaving the strands into long plaits, they told me these would eventually become hats. And by ‘told’, I really mean ‘gestured.’ Their village dialect was incredibly thick, so much so that even the Shanghai native in our group had difficulty discerning what they were saying.

I asked this granny in the photo how much the finished hat would cost. “1.80 RMB*.”

Out of habit (comparison shopping is something that any self-respecting shopper in China always does), I asked the next granny I encountered for her price. She looked up at my clearly out-of-town self, grinned, and cheerfully replied: “2 RMB.”

*1 USD = 6.25 RMB (for now, at least)