Let's Be A Cheerleader - Somone Who Supports and Praises

I was a cheerleader in high school and loved it. I wasn't much into the formations or building elaborate pyramids, but I enjoyed cheering on our team at the games.

I loved getting the crowd excited. I believed that if we could be loud enough together, we could give our team the boost, the momentum, the something extra the players might need to get the job done and win the game. Our job was to keep the crowd behind the team no matter what.

Now, years later I find myself standing on the sidelines in my children's lives, learning to perfect a role I practiced as a teenager. Several people I spoke with stressed that one of the biggest roles we play is that of cheerleader in our adult child's life. It's a healthy, built-in desire to know that our parents are proud of us, that they believe in us and that Mom and Dad have our backs no matter what!

I'm not talking about being "rah-rah" parents who dole out fluffy flattery. Encouragement is much deeper than that. It means to say words and show actions that put courage into the people we love.

Life is challenging, and our adult kids benefit greatly from having parents who are quick to be positive.

"I believe in you."

"I'm proud of you."

"You amaze me."

"God has put great ideas on your heart."

"I'm praying for you. I know you will learn and grow."

"You're a great wife/husband."

"I love how you parent your children."

On the flip-side, our adult kids suffer when they feel our silent (or not so silent) disapproval of their actions or plans. Sometimes we feel the need to speak up and keep our kids from making mistakes with decisions in their lives. Adult children don't usually find those comments to be helpful.

I realize that my desire to protect often communicates to my kids a lack of confidence or distrust. I'm learning to wait and see if they ask for my help before I barge in with a lot of solutions.

I'm learning the wisdom behind insights that one man shared with me. He experienced a difficult relationship with one of his parents and though he is very successful, what was said communicated that he didn't really know what he was doing and probably wouldn't do anything well... He said that because of how he was treated, he will only step in with his children if he feels they are doing something egregious. (I had to look that up...it means something is extraordinarily bad, flagrant, or shocking.)

I agree with that...if it's not egregious, I'm going to be respectful and let them figure out their own lives.

One set of parents shared with me that they have adopted Philippians 4:8 as the theme scripture to define the relationship they enjoy with their adult children. They are quick to communicate all the positive things they see in all of their children. “Regardless of where they are in life, kids want their parents to be proud of them. We look to find the good in everything that they do.”

Another parent told me how vital it is to recognize the positive. “Our adult children need our approval. We commend them for everything good we see in them.” This parent went on to say that she and her husband want their children to know how much they admire them. “All of us need people to admire us. Our kids need to know we back them.”

One parent shared this thought..."Even if (what I want to say) is true, if it won't benefit them, I shouldn't say it." That often rings in my head now when I speak with my kids. I try to measure my words by what will encourage and benefit my kids and not be someone who speaks up because "it's true."

I've had to wrestle with that over the years...is something true just because I believe it? I'm coming to realize that "my" truth may not be "the" truth.

Sometimes the most encouraging thing we can do is simply listen to our kids and ask questions to help them sort through feelings, ideas, and plans. I have found that if I am too forceful in offering an opinion or advice, the conversation often ends rather quickly. Can you relate?

From the onset of this journey, I have been looking for principles and healthy thought processes to guide me toward a deeper, closer and continually growing relationship with my adult children. Offering encouragement is at the top of that list.

I want to be the person in their lives who yells loud enough and prays long enough to help them believe they can get the job done and "win their game."

These verses from the Bible help remind me of that goal.

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11

"You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage, and you listen to their cry." Psalm 10:17