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4 reasons it’s okay to let your kid cheer

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Cheer Mom

I’ve been wanting to do a new series on here for awhile and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about but then a friend asked about a cheer mom series and I thought sure, why not? I am a cheer mom. I can talk about it. And being behind the scenes, I can probably shed some light on a few parts of cheer most people are skeptical about, or might not know about (or even care to know about). But if you have a daughter, she might want to cheer some day. And before you say no, please read through this series. It might change your mind.

cheer mom button

If you asked me, when I was pregnant, what kind of “sport mom” I’d be, I’d say something like soccer mom or softball mom or dance mom. But cheer mom? No way in hell. It’s not something I ever imagined. I was never a cheerleader myself. I never had any desire to be one.  I never talked to my daughter about it. So when we had the “what activity would you like to do” discussion, and she said cheerleading, we were floored. STUNNED. The questions (“really? Are you sure?” and privately to each other “Why us?”) started. But she was adamant so we signed her up.

Two years later, she’s still going at it. With no signs of stopping.

Despite our initial trepidation, we’re glad she cheers (even with the early Sunday mornings for competitions) and here’s why I think you need to consider letting your kid cheer (even if your initial reaction is similar to ours): 

This ecard makes me rage.

  • It’s not about you. It’s about your kid. Not allowing your kid to cheer because you hate cheerleading or you buy into all the stereotypes about it is, to me, ridiculous. And this is coming from someone who repeatedly said to her daughter “are you sure cheer is what you want” before I registered her and paid for it. As parents, we have a responsibility to our kids to let them make their own choices. If we prevent them from making some choices that are essentially harmless, like joining a cheer squad, we take some of that autonomy away from them (we’ll discuss options for cheer and affording it in another post). Sometimes we have to let them choose what they want and let them figure out if it’s the right choice for them.
  • They learn skills that transcend the mat. Belonging to a cheer squad, like any team, teaches kids skills like responsibility, teamwork, problem solving, time management, and self-confidence. These skills help them in school, in social situations, and even at home. Take my daughter, for example. Before she started cheering, she was painfully shy. She wouldn’t talk to anyone she didn’t know; she wouldn’t even order for herself in restaurants. When we moved between her kindergarten and first grade years, we were scared–TERRIFIED–that she wouldn’t make new friends. But, thanks to joining her squad, she did. Not only that, new people don’t consistently freak her out. She’s more outgoing, and the self-confidence she’s gained from performing has made her more comfortable in new situations. And she’s learning to balance the responsibilities of practice and school. 

 
cheer quote

  • It’s great exercise. Make no mistake about it. Cheerleading, especially competitive cheerleading, is physically challenging. These girls work hard. They sweat. They run. They condition. They lift and throw other children in the air. And they catch them! They put their bodies through workouts that most adults don’t do (and as the girls get older, it gets physically more demanding. Much more demanding). When so many kids don’t get enough exercise, it’s hard not to support a choice that would add anywhere between 4-10 hours per week of activity (my daughter is in the 6 hour range).

 
cheerleader

  • Your sport does not dictate your personality. It does not dictate how you treat people, how you behave in public, how you perform in school, or anything else. Your kid can be just as much of troublemaker or poor student being on the yearbook staff as they can on the cheer squad. Are some of the stereotypes true? Yep. Do you have the ability to teach your child how not to be the stereotype? Yep. And here’s the kicker in all of this–every group has a stereotype. Every. Single. One. And cheerleaders don’t exactly have a great reputation. But if you’re raising your kid to be respectful, to work hard, and to be kind, then that’s how she’ll be remembered. The cheerleader label will simply be another adjective.

 
Speaking as a very reluctant cheer mom, and one who still doesn’t always buy into the glitter, bling, and pep, I maintain that your kid wanting to cheer isn’t the worst thing in the world. There’s a lot they stand to gain by joining a squad, and you’ll get a heck of an education.

Trust me on that last one.

Alright. So now that I’ve convinced you that being a cheerleader is not that worst thing that can happen to your daughter (or you), let’s take a peek at what else we’ll be covering in this series:

Week 2: What to expect as a cheer mom

Week 3: Cheer expenses

Week 4: Things people will say to you (and how to handle them)

Week 5: Competition Day: How to survive it

Week 6: Topic TBD

 

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32 Comments

  1. Ellesees.blogspot.com

    i’m all for kids doing what makes them happy (within reason, hehe) and if they wanna cheer, then good for them. great points.
    Ellesees.blogspot.com recently posted…Quick High End Foundation ReviewsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I agree. As long as it’s reasonable, there’s no reason they can’t do it.

      Reply
  2. Linda Sheridan

    My nieces and my Sean’s girlfriend were cheerleaders. It is a good thing for your kids to be involved in activities that they love. Today, everything is expensive, and mostly year-round. That has been my life and it is very rewarding to me. Your kids grow up and go so fast, it is a gift to spend the time with them. #keeponcheering
    Love, SMD’s Momma

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The basically year round thing is hard. But it’s so routine in our lives, we barely notice it.

      Reply
  3. Marcie

    I used to love being a cheerleader as a kid, although admittedly I was never on a competition squad, and no one ever got thrown up in the air! I would love to hear you address how you deal with knowing your daughter is participating in the most dangerous sport (and I say this as a serious lover of cheerleading). I think it would give me serious momma anxiety attacks!!
    Marcie recently posted…loan progress — 10.29.14My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      And this is now my week 6 topic! I will absolutely address this in its own post.

      Reply
  4. Nadine

    I love that you guys let her cheer even though you were not in to it. I think showing support for your child’s decision and interests, no matter how different they are from yours, is very important in shaping their personalities and confidence! Plus, speaking as a former cheerleader, not all cheerleaders fit the stereotypes and it really did teach lots of life lessons!
    Nadine recently posted…Weekend Shenanigans – The One That Was ProductiveMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      YES! THIS! ALL OF THIS!!! I love how you so succinctly summarized what my 1000 words tried to say!

      Reply
  5. kathy@vodka and soda

    the way i see it, as long as your kid is having fun and getting some exercise, why not. kayla wanted to do dance and although i wasn’t thrilled about having to spend eleventy billion dollars on costumes and attend boring shows (except for the ones she was in), i did it because she wanted to try it and had fun. thank god she doesn’t want to do it anymore and is now loving gymnastics because that’s totally my jam πŸ˜€
    kathy@vodka and soda recently posted…friday favorites [11-7]My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Erica never wanted to dance or do gymnastics and now, with competitive cheer, she has to do both along with cheering! It makes me laugh. It’s definitely easier when they do stuff we like but I just can’t force her to do something I want her to do because I prefer it. We don’t have to sit through all the competition sessions, just hers so when her awards are done, we get to leave. I love it!

      Reply
  6. Julia

    I totally agree that you should let kids choose the extra-curricular activities that they want to do! I think any activity, whether cheer, music, dance, or anything else can really build their confidence and make them feel good for accomplishing something, regardless of what it is!
    Julia recently posted…Weekend Recap- Corny EditionMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I feel the same way. As long as an activity is doing good things for a kid, then let them do it. As soon as it stops and does more harm than good, then it’s time to move on.

      Reply
  7. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    It’s amazing how times have changed. Back when I was a kid there were not squads dedicated JUST to cheerleading. We just cheered for the football team and believe me it wasn’t even remotely physically demanding, but I still remember doing junior cheer and thinking fondly on those times. I do agree with you on the first point that its not about you, it’s about them. Obviously there might be other factors at play like the financial burden or time burden, but other than that… I’m still kind of pissed my parents kept throwing me in sports I hated just because that’s what my brother did and was good at. Granted I consider myself to be an athlete now, but back then I just wanted to do dance, ice skating, and music/theater and they never put me in any of that. Guess I’m making up for lost time. πŸ™‚
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Health & Wealth Challenge-Week OneMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      There is a difference between football cheer and competitive cheer. My daughter’s league does both and football cheer actually bores her because there’s not enough going on!

      Finances definitely play a part in the decision and I’ll cover that in another post πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Great series! My cousins and some of my very good friends from high school were cheerleaders. Those girls are FIERCE athletes.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…TWTWMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The athleticism is incredible. Especially as they get older.

      Reply
  9. Kerry

    I think it is so good for their confidence. I say they should try whatever they want and figure out what they like, no point in discouraging them from something they might really love.
    Kerry recently posted…A Weekend of BlissMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Exactly! They need to figure out what they like without parents forcing a sport or activity on them.

      Reply
  10. Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout

    Fun series idea! I think being anti- any school activity is an example of how parents try to live through their kids — just cause you didn’t want to do it doesn’t mean your kid shouldn’t try it! That being said, I will definitely have some strong opinions if my boys want to play football… but that’s a safety thing, not because I think they’ll turn into meatheads or whatever the stereotype is.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…Preschool Journal: SnakesMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I actually read a report or study that said cheerleading is more dangerous than football so I get your hesitation in not wanting your boys to play. It makes me nervous every time she hits the mat!

      Reply
  11. Kristen

    I love this! I definitely had an idea of cheerleaders in my head and I love that you are dispelling it for me. I definitely agree with all of your reasons and they could be applied (mostly) to anything. most importantly, it’s not about you and your sport not dictating your personality.
    Kristen recently posted…Guest Post @ Samantha FabrisMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Cheerleaders definitely get a bad rap and I’m glad you’re seeing that it’s not entirely what you think.

      Reply
  12. Jenniemarie @ Another Housewife

    So I have the same thing going on with my baby girl only with gymnastics. However, it is totally her thing and she loves, loves it. As long as she is committed to it, I will be a gymnastics mom.

    They offer competitive cheer at the same gym. Her gymnastics class overlaps with the cheerleaders conditioning time and it’s no joke. Those girls work hard. I don’t think people realize how athletic cheer leading is. I don’t think most athletes would be able to make the cut from a pure endurance stand point.

    I also agree with all of the above. It is our job as a parent to help our kids spread their wings in the areas they are called to shine.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      You’re right. Cheerleading is so misunderstood but it is hard! People should take a minute to get it before they mock. I think a post idea is in here.

      The best thing we can do is support our daughters regardless of our own opinions.

      Reply
  13. Amber

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Natalie wants to cheer at some point. Right now she just does gymnastics. I let her decide though.
    Amber recently posted…Eating Lunch With My DaughterMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      There’s a lot of gymnastics in competitive cheer! It’s so much easier letting them choose because then you don’t feel like you’re wasting your money.

      Reply
  14. Revanche

    I think I got the most balanced view of cheerleading as a large sport from Leverage, believe it or not! I had good friends join some form of the cheer squad in high school so I knew that of course not all cheerleaders conform to the stereotype, but I didn’t realize how dangerous the competitive sport was until that one episode.

    This does, however, remind me of the best advice I’ve gotten about parenting: Pick your battles carefully. If a kid wants to cheer, what’s the harm? (Other than to your wallet.) My first reaction would have been the same as yours but that’s because it’s completely not my personality which is a totally invalid reason to veto the request. After all, LB wouldn’t be asking me to cheer, so what harm is there in supporting the hobby?
    Revanche recently posted…Reaping Dividends: slow and steadyMy Profile

    Reply
  15. Kelli

    I’ve always been grateful that Little K leans towards non girly things like karate. If she wanted to cheer I’d be all for it, I believe I need to let her be who she is and if that’s a cheerleader someday so be it.
    Kelli recently posted…All About The BooksMy Profile

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  16. lisacng @ expandng.com

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s about the kid and not to immediately refuse an activity because of my judgements. Can I ask – how old is your daughter when she started, how old she is now? Or maybe just “elementary” or “middle school” is sufficient. My biggest fear is all the “sexy” routines that circulate the internet and how I wouldn’t want my daughter to do those.
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  19. Lisa

    I’m a kid,ok I would sooo love to do cheerleading! Last year my mom gave me a talk about cheerleaders and said ” your going to become one of them, want to be popular” but I tried to tell her that it’s not that. If you commit to it and let me do it you will see. It’s hard work and a lot of exercise. I need that. I’m flexible and strong and not going to be a FLYER. My mom is like “Lisa, your small and light, you gonna be a flyer.” But whenever I bring up the subject she yells YOUR NOT DOING COMPETITIVE CHEERLEADING, OK LISA?! IM DONE TALKING ABOUT THIS. CHEER IS NOT A SPORT. Please help me!!

    Reply

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