Home > Parenting > Cheerfully, The Answer is No.

Cheerfully, The Answer is No.

If ever there was a mother who didn’t desire her daughter to be a cheerleader, it is moi.

So naturally, my teenage daughter is hellbent on being one. With Naomi Wolf as my witness, I didn’t see this one coming. Either irony is beautiful, or else someone is playing a divine trick, I’m not sure which.

Call me judgemental, but I don't see many positive role models here.

Call me judgmental, but I don’t see many positive role models here, unless you’re aspiring to be a look-alike doll, or Barbie.

Note: this is a cheer club, not wave a pompom when the football team takes the field, cheerleading. The idea is they work on routines (at ridiculously inopportune times) and enter competitions (in the middle of nowhere). If anything, it is even slightly more pointless.

Nothing against cheerleading, except for the stereotype. And the fact that they wear more makeup on their faces than clothes on their body. And it objectifies girls not yet women. And it attracts a certain person that may not be the best influence. And there are a thousand other activities I would rather her spend her time on. The debating club, for instance.

There are many reasons I don’t want her to join competitive cheerleading. Everyday she asks, and everyday I throw out a different way of saying no (you could break your neck being today’s flavour). But somewhere in my head I worry that I should let her be who she wants to be. I agree it’s important that kids express themselves, and that those parents who get in the way of that expression are doing a disservice to their children. When she wanted to wear mismatched clothing, I was cool with that.

But this is different, and so I’m choosing to ignore that little voice in my head, and go with my gut instinct, the instinct that draws the line in the sand just before cheer club, and makes me unpopular. The consequences are large and possibly, unforgiving. I might pay for this for years to come, but then I may thank myself, too.

These children should have come with specific directions attached. What would you do?

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  1. Sue
    June 6, 2013 at 12:36 am

    ok, behind you 100%. I just couldn’t let that one happen. Well done for even debating this one (even if the debate was in your head)

    • June 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Nothing like debating these things in a public form! Sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy or totally overreacting, so thanks Sue.

  2. June 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Hi,

    I hope I am not over stepping a line here, but I am an all star cheerleader and I will be the first person to tell you that while yes, some of the teams are all about the cheap spray tans, caked on make up, and big poofs – there are more teams out there who want to win. All star cheer is a great experience for anyone to have (given their in the right place). I think that it is something that you and your daughter should really sit down and discuss… is it something that she is doing to be “popular” or is it something that she is doing because she likes it? That is the question. You don’t want to hold her back from something that she really wants to do because this sport can really teach someone some really valuable life lessons. Not every gym in the world revolve around the cheap, made up stereotype.

    Thanks!

    • June 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Totally valid points and I thank you for your input and for illuminating the other side of cheerleading. I think given the right gym and coaches, it can be a valid and positive sport, but I don’t think the gym in our vicinity is one of these, sadly, from what I’ve seen. I’ve been wrong before however.

  3. Nicole Deveau
    June 17, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Hi Deanna! It’s Nicole Deveau from years gone past. I haven’t read your blog in a while, but last week I decided to have a look and low and behold, here was a blog about cheerleading. See, I too, faced the exact issue 2 years ago with my then 13 year old daughter. She announced that she wanted to do cheerleading and as the thought ” not in this lifetime” screamed in my head, I said back to her ” I”ll think about it” . I was hoping it was just one of those ramdom thoughts that would go away on it’s own. But it didn’t.
    See, my daughter was a competitive gymnast who had an accident running on a metal beam on a playground. It landed her in the hospital emergency and unable to sit properly for several weeks. The balance beam then became a source of fear for her, and she didn’t return the following year. She was a great dancer, but dance classes bored her. So, voila! Cheer is dance and tumbling at fast speed. Just her thing, and I knew it, but it was all those other parts of the sport that I couldn’t handle.
    I reluctantly enrolled her knowing that the concept of cheer, in it’s true essence, was really perfect for her. But the difficult part was what cheerleading appeared to be. I didn’t want my daughter hanging with “those types” of girls.
    During practices, the kids just wear t-shirts and shorts but that all changes at the competition. It becomes a stadium full of girls with cheer outfits and poofy hair, big bows and lots of make-up. I couldn’t stand the fact that my daughter was a part of this. Even the parents were too much. They wore “Cheer Mom ” shirts and I vowed I would not be one of those. I would text my friends from the competitions asking why my child didn’t want to be a hockey player or swimmer like their children!
    But into the second year, it happened. I chose to look beyond and I saw my daughter doing something she loved. It is an activity that is truly athletic. The kids work really hard physically and mentally. They learn routines that are not only physically challenging but also extremely fast paced and difficult.They are athletes ( gymnastics and stunts)) and artists (dancers), at the same time.
    And above all, my daughter doesn’t hang with “those type” of girls. Because there are all kinds of kids, just like her, doing cheerleading. And those kids have parents just like me, and we have become really good friends. Moms that are police officers, daycare owners, law students and some of the nicest kids that I have met. And I mean that sincerely. Kids that go to youth church groups and kids that travelled to Africa last year to build a school during their March Break.
    One of the biggest things that these kids learn is teamwork. It’s just like one of those teambuilding workshops every night. It’s really amazing. They rely on each other for safety, and they take that role very seriously They truly encourage and support each other. My daughter would love to be a flyer (the girl on top) but I feel blessed that she is a base. She is a tumbler, however, and I realize the danger that comes with the sport.
    And I know that I am blessed because I have a daughter who seeks out the important things. She had to switch clubs this year in order to compete at a higher level and she refused to go to a certain club ,just because she didn’t get the right vibe, even though it is a better club than the one she ultimately chose. She loved her old club and loves her new club and that is absolutely key to the experience.
    I am not trying to pretend that there isn’t a lot wrong with cheerleading, because that would be completely untrue. Rumor has it that they are trying to clean things up, but it will be long past when my daughter is finished. So for now, she wears a cheer uniform with a big bow in her hair and too much make-up when she competes. But when she comes home, and she changes and washes up, she is just herself again. And I realize that this is just a costume that she performs in, just like a dancer or actor on stage.
    I am not, even for a second, trying to convince you to let your daughter cheer. I don’t believe in doing that .
    Did you make the right decision? Did I make the right decision? Really, I don’t know for sure. For my daughter it would have depended on what she would have done instead. But I do know, that she truly loves to cheer.
    And just so you know…I still don’t own a cheer mom shirt. It’s just not me…..and just like Amy, we both haven’t lost who we are, in the world of cheer.

    • June 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      So interesting to hear this story Nicole, and learn about the positive side of cheerleading. Now I am truly conflicted! Sounds like things have worked out very well for your daughter, so perhaps I will cross my fingers and hope for the best. Sincerely appreciate you taking the time to enlighten me.

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