It's a tap dance we do when our kids bring a new romantic interest home. If it's for a weekend or overnight, do we assume they'll want to be in the same bedroom or sleep on the same sofa bed? (I wrote about some of those challenges here and here.)
When the relationship is new but "serious" we need to take care to neither warmly over-embrace nor coldly underplay the relationship. If we lean too far from neutral we're sending a message we may not want to--or shouldn't--send. Since we're just barely on the far side of the holidays, many of us may have grappled with this when one or more of our children brought new romantic-interest guests to our family gathering. (If so, I would love it if you would leave me a comment on how it went.)
For many of us, the issue behind the guest-bringing is whether it signifies a ratcheting up of our child's relationship and, if so, should we adjust our welcome mat accordingly. If our child has intimated that the relationship is "serious," how does that translate into family moments.
Here's a case in point: A reader who signed her question "Carol" asked Philip Galanes at Social Qs what to do about formal photographs that would be taken at a birthday celebration for Carol's father's milestone birthday. One of Carol's daughters, who's in her late-20s, was bringing her serious boyfriend of six months to the gala. Carol asks: "Should he be included in the family photos?"
As usual, Galanes puts the photo-taking issue into a larger perspective:
Consult your daughter. Tell her you want to respect her relationship, but you don’t want to put pressure on it. Then ask her how she’d like to handle family photographs, maybe including the boyfriend in some, but not others. Err on the side of inclusion, though. You don’t want to hurt her. Your relationship with her is more important than photographs.
painting: by Paul Gauguin