Introducing Him To My Thai Family
I am Nathamon, CEO and owner of Meet Me Now Bangkok based in Bangkok, Thailand. When I fell in love and married my husband Michael 7 years ago, he was quite taken aback by many things that he encountered when I introduced him to my wonderful Thai family, but he soon came to relax and understand the Thai way of doing things.
Before meeting any Thai family you need to have an idea of their customs and what social actions are acceptable and what are not.
One major factor in terms of respect is body parts. The head for example is seen as the most sacred part of the body. It must not be touched (apart from in an intimate relationship), and family members will take real offense if you do, and even more so if they are older than you are.
Do’s And Don’ts When Meeting Her Thai Family
The feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body and pointing your feet at someone or lifting your feet to the level of another person’s head is seen as rude and impolite. Never put your feet up on furniture in a Thai house as this is a big insult. The Thai family in a typical household is an extended family with many generations living in one house, or many houses within the same grounds. The communal lifestyle instills in Thai people a real sense of compromise, understanding and harmony. Everyone in the house has their own particular roles. The father is seen as the leader, however the mother is also a very significant figure often managing the finances. A real respect for their elders is given which remains throughout a Thais’ life even once they are adults.
The Position Of The Elders In A Thai Family
The mother and grandmother will take pride in cooking for their Thai family, and if you are preparing to meet your girlfriends’ family, then it might be a good idea to prepare for the pungent and exotic flavors that they will serve you. They will take great insult if you do not eat what is put in front of you, and traditional Thai food does take some time to get used to, as despite being renowned for the diversity of ingredients, deliciousness and ample medicinal properties, the tastes are completely foreign for visitor. The base to most dishes is rice, however it is served as an accompaniment to many wild and wonderful concoctions. Most Thai mothers will ask you straight away “gin khao yung”, have you eaten yet in English, and will be hoping that the answer is no so that they can feed you. You should definitely try Panaeng (Meat in Spicy Coconut Cream), Tom Yam Kai (Spicy Chicken Soup) and the Thai National dish, Pad Thai (Fried Noodles).
The Thai Family And Religion
It is more than likely that your girlfriend’s Thai family will be Buddhist, as 95% of the Thai population are practicing in the religion. Do some research on Buddhism as despite being fascinating reading, it could really could really show your Thai lady’s family that you respect them and your girlfriend. Learning more about Buddhism would definitely help you to understand more about Thailand and your girlfriend’s family and why they do many things and live the way they do. Buddhism is a way of life and is based around the major philosophies of being mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, leading a moral life and developing wisdom and understanding. Although a Thai family would not expect you to convert to Buddhism, being knowledgeable on the subject would definitely be useful in both conversations (if you brush up on your Thai) and family events and festivals.
The Thai Family And Festivities
Thailand has a wide array of festivals which the whole family takes part in (which if you are married to a Thai lady means you). The people of Thailand are very secular and so love celebrating all religion-based festivals actively whether they are Buddhist Festivals, Chinese Festivals or any other. They even will be happy to enjoy Christmas and they have three New Years Days! Festivals are generally a time for joy and feasting on delicious foods. Remember if going into a temple to remove your shoes and do not wear shorts as this is seen as disrespectful. Some temples will require you to wear socks inside the temples.
In conclusion, don’t worry too much about how you will be perceived by your prospective wife’s’ Thai family, or what you should or shouldn’t do. In reality if you are respectful, show interest in everyone and express how much you care about your girlfriend, then they will most likely welcome you in. You will probably never feel like a true Thai, but do you even want to? Having your Western identity is what will make your relationship special and unique.
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