You might have the fortune of falling for a man whose family is the family you never had. You might have the decent luck of falling for a man with perfectly okay parents—nothing to write home about, but cause no trouble. And then, you might just fall for a man whose family would inspire another season of Arrested Development. Here is what to do if your boyfriend’s family is crazy.
First off: does he know they’re crazy?
Make sure your man knows his family is crazy, because if he doesn’t, then he’s going to become them. He doesn’t see any reason not to!
Let him bring up their crazy
When one of his family members does something inappropriate or annoying or crazy, let your guy bring it up first. He wants you to empathize with him. He doesn’t want you nit picking at his family.
Befriend the crazy mom
All you can do with an overbearing or paranoid mother is befriend her. Any distance or stand off nature she senses from you will only drive her crazier. Invite her to go shopping sometimes, or just call her up to say hello.
Agree with the crazy dad
A crazy man of the house tends to need to be agreed with. Everyone else in the family knows he needs that and knows you’re just trying to appease him. They probably all do it too.
Smile and nod
Crazy people usually just like the sound of their own voice. So just smile and nod. Trying to insert your own opinion in a conversation with someone who is a little nuts will only exhaust you.
Let him know to let them know to back off
You can never ask your man’s family to back off. They’ll probably reject you permanently if you do. If you need your guy’s mom to call you less, or his dad to stop dragging you into political conversations, ask him to find a way to do so where it doesn’t blow back on you.
Don’t talk to them about your relationship
They’ll look for things to criticize or worry about. That’s what crazy families do. Even if you and your man are fighting, never let that be known to his family. They will try to get involved.
Don’t lecture the delinquent sibling
You might think your doing your man’s parents a favor by giving life advice to their younger child who quit college or drinks too much. At the end of the day, though, that’s their baby. They don’t want anyone stepping on their toes.
Don’t get into business with them
Crazy families tend to always be scheming up new crazy business ideas. And whatever your expertise is, they’ll ask you to offer it to their business. Find a way to politely say no.
Deflect conversations about the future
Crazy parents get ahead of themselves, especially when talking about their son’s future. Don’t talk about finances, or where the two of you might live, or children or weddings. They’ll go into worry mode immediately.
Avoid family trips
Showing up for family dinner a couple times a month is a great effort. Spending a prolonged period of time with the crazy family will only give them reasons to come up with crazy ideas about you.
Eat the food
Crazy families usually look for reasons to believe that others look down on them—that they’re not good enough, that their home isn’t good enough, that their food isn’t good enough…Eat the food.
Enjoy a couple of drinks
It will help you survive the uncle’s conspiracy theories about UFOs and the mom’s insistence that GMOs are causing people to grow extra limbs.
Careful on the gifts
Remember: a crazy family is looking for hints that you’re looking down on them. Try not to give them gifts that are very expensive or fancy, or anything that implies they’re doing something wrong (like a house cleaner session or a counter top organizer. And how-to books are out of the question.)
Give equal attention to everybody
This is particularly important if your man’s family fights a lot. You don’t want to make it look like you’re playing “favorites” when everybody dislikes one another.