Meeting Your Girlfriend's Parents
When you are in a relationship with a Lao woman, you will obviously have to meet her parents for the first time.
In Lao culture, there is no way that a wedding or engagement can take place without the approval of your girlfriend's parents so it's crucial that you don't mess up your first meeting with her parents and that you get along well with her family because they will become part of your family when you eventually get married.
Before you meet your girlfriend's parents, you should ask your girlfriend about her parents so that you know some basic information
about the sorts of people they are, how old they are, things they like and dislike, what they do for a living and so forth.
If you are planning to buy her parents a gift, make sure you ask your girlfriend beforehand whether they would like those gifts or not. If her dad likes to drink then a bottle of whiskey is an appropriate gift and maybe you want to give her mum a traditional Lao skirt (sinh), handbag or purse. If you are getting her mum a handbag or purse, it is customary in Laos to put abit of money in it because it's not very nice to give an empty handbag or purse to Lao women as a gift. Try not to buy her parents something overly expensive for a first time meeting because you must remember that they are still a stranger to you and you are still a stranger to them. They are your family only when you are married to their daughter.
The way you should dress really depends on the situation. If you are planning to meet your girlfriend's parents in a restaurant for an evening dinner together then obviously you need to show some common sense and wear something neat and tidy, but not necessarily too formally. If you are meeting them at their place then make sure you take your shoes off when you are about to enter. If you have an expensive pair of shoes and you are worried that somebody will steal it then it is alright to ask her parents if you can leave it somewhere inside.
The way to greet her parents is to "vai" where you grasp two hands together and bring them towards your chin with your head bent slightly forward. Thai people call it "wai" and unlike they do in Thai culture, it is not necessary to "vai" for farewells in Lao culture unless you're not planning to see her parents again for a very long time.
When you meet her dad for the first time, you could "vai" and then give him a handshake, but make sure it's a nice firm handshake
with good eye contact because it reflects a confident and strong personality. If you also meet her brothers and sisters, it is not necessary to "vai" to them if they are around your age. Please don't get Lao culture mixed with Thai culture because it's different. We don't "vai" to everyone so make sure you ask your girlfriend for information if you are unsure of the appropriate way to greet each member of her family.
The first meeting with your girlfriend's parents is very important in determining your future relationship with their daughter.
During discussions with your girlfriend's parents, talk in a polite manner. I don't think you really need to be told that because it's plain common sense but you should always listen to her parents when they talk about their life and try not to interrupt them.
Give her parents some compliments, you could mention how beautiful their house is, or you're impressed how strong and healthy looking the both of them are at their age.
You should talk abit about yourself such as what you do, where you come from, how many brothers and sisters you have and answer any questions they ask and don't lie to them about anything. Also explain to them that you love their daughter and where the relationship is headed. Are you planning to get married? If so, let them know when. Where do you plan to live together and what do you plan to do together etc. Remember that this isn't a friggin job interview so just be yourself, talk normally and don't be scared or shy and you will win their approval.
Another important thing is not to show your affection towards your girlfriend in front of her parents because it's rude in Lao culture.
Yes I'm sure you feel like touching, hugging and kissing her but you can do that another time. The key for the first time meeting with your girlfriend's parents is to make a good impression of yourself to prove to them that you are the right man for their daughter.