Love & Life

Nigerian Etiquette 101: How To Act When You Meet The In-Laws For The First Time

Cracking the Code of Visiting Your Boo's Nigerian Fam for the First Time, BTW, this is for both the guys and girlies :)

  • written by Eavesdroppr's
  • 4 min read
  • 27 Mar, 2024

So, you finally bagged that special someone and things are getting super serious. They are probably a different tribe from you, or even a whole other continent, so you've mastered the art of making that weekend jollof rice or traditional soup, just in case, you’ve aced your tribal greetings, and can even differentiate between all the traditional delicacies (bonus points!). But now comes the ultimate test: venturing into the lion's den, aka meeting your in-laws for the first time. 

Fear not, intrepid lovebirds, because this guide will have you navigating those putrid waters to make sure your vibes come with respectfulness like a seasoned pro. 

To Kneel or Not To?

Let’s face it, there are certain Nigerian cultures and tribes that expect you to kneel, prostrate, or whatever till you touch the ground. Granted, they are well within their cultural rights to do so, but what about you, should you? The general rule of thumb would be to curtsy for sure, no matter what, that little curtsy or male bow while greeting goes a long way to show how respectful you are, but if you don’t mind kicking it up a notch, depending on who your inlaws are, then you could go all the way down.

Dress to Impress (But Not Distress)

Forget the ripped jeans and spaghetti straps and for the guys, think smart casual and not wayward casual. Opt for something respectful but with your own personal flair. Think Ankara prints (if that’s your vibe), a neat blouse, or a sharp button-down, a classy dress, you could even do jeans, just as long as it's nothing too crazy. Remember, first impressions matter, and looking put-together shows you took the effort, get a haircut or make sure whatever hairstyle you have on is well kept (without looking like you robbed a bank before stopping by).

The Art of the Arrival

Don't just waltz in like you own the place. Wait to be ushered in, greet the elders warmly with a smile and a "Good afternoon, Ma/Sir" (bonus points for tribal greetings if you're feeling adventurous). A small gift like a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine never hurts either. Find out from your spouse what their parents like and go for a nice little gesture if you can.

The All-Important Small Talk

Brace yourself for the question avalanche. Be prepared to answer "Where are you from?" "What do you do for a living?" and the dreaded "When are you two getting married?" with a smile and a polite response. A little flattery about their delicious cooking or their beautiful home goes a long way. 

Table Manners Masterclass

Napkin on your lap? Check. Don't dig in before the elders? Absolutely. Be prepared to be served heaping portions of delicious food – pace yourself, nobody likes a greedy guest. 

Phone in Your Pocket

Unless there's a family emergency, ditch the phone or try not to be on it 24/7. This is your chance to connect with your future in-laws, not scroll through Instagram and TikTok. Engage in conversation, ask questions about their lives, and show genuine interest. 

Harness Your Home Training

This works especially if your grew up Nigerian, there's no way you don’t know things like waking up early (Just in case of a sleepover), offer to help out in the kitchen (it’s just courtesy), help clear the table, do the dishes, or anything at all that will show them that you were actually brought up well.

Embrace the Fun And Be Your Most Authentic self 

Above all, relax and have fun! This is a chance to get to know the people who raised the love of your life, have fun with it and be yourself. Embrace the warmth of their hospitality, enjoy the delicious food, and show them you're worthy of joining their amazing family. 

Remember, a little respect, a lot of charm, and a genuine desire to connect will have them welcoming you with open arms (and maybe even introducing you to all their secret recipes!). 

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