Author : Lee Ah-Rin (February 8, 2017)
Back in the days marrying a foreigner was somewhat looked down upon in Thailand. Fortunately, however, Thai society in general has become a lot more accepting than it used to be. Although some older generations might be a little skeptical, most parents just want the best for their kids. Although every family is different, there are certainly some Thai customs that you should take into consideration. Check out some tips below that will help ensure you leave your Thai partner’s family with a good impression!
Bring gifts and souvenirs when you visit, especially if you’re meeting them for the first time. It doesn’t need to be something fancy, just some snacks or even souvenirs from your home country should work. It’s not as much about the gift itself, as it is about showing respect. Ask your partner what his/her parents like and go from there. As you become closer with the family, gifts become less and less necessary with each visit.
Regardless of how much society has changed, Thailand is still a very conservative country. Gestures showing affections like hugs or pecks on the cheeks are still not appropriate in front of elders. Not being overly affectionate to your partner in front of their parents can be considered as a sign of respect to both of them. Holding hands might be okay, depending on how conservative they are.
Make sure to Waii the parents at every appropriate occasion; greeting, thanking, apologizing etc. Saying hello in Thai (Sawadee) always leave a good impression, as it implies that you are trying to be part of their culture. If you are learning Thai and can somewhat speak Thai, make sure you don’t forget your Krub/Ka when responding to the parents as it can be very rude if you do!
Get on their good side by offering to help with what they’re doing; washing dishes, cooking, wiping the table. Show that you are eager to become part of their family. Thai culture places elders at the top, so sitting around on your phone while the elders serve you can be considered rude. However, if they insist on you not helping then there’s no need to worry as long as you at least try.
In contrary to most Western culture, Thais tend to be less independent and family opinions can play a big part. Although you’re both grown adults that can make decisions for yourselves, try consulting them on major life decisions to show that you respect their opinions. Following their suggestions is another whole story, but it is still a nice gesture to ask.
The most important part is to be yourself. Every family is different; one thing that works for someone might not work for others. Regardless, if you are planning on spending your life with someone and become part of their family, make sure you are comfortable being who you are as you can’t pretend to be someone else forever.
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