On Both Sides of Being “That Cheer Parent” 

An article inspired by many true stories, and coach conversations we’ll never tell you about.

The emails and calls that start with, “You know me- not one to complain but….” or “I’m really not “that” parent, but…”  No matter which side of the coin you are on, we all just rolled our eyes a bit. And for a million legitimate reasons. So as we approach this season, we already know the scenario: Lets look at a fresh perspective from both sides of the awkwardness before it becomes a big thing. (You probably won’t like much of what we say on either side, but tough cookies. We all need to hear it.)

For Parents:
1) The moment you say, “I’m not one of those parents…” you are. Embrace that you have an issue to discuss, and go discuss it with the coach/owner without prefacing what you are not.

2) What really makes you “that parent” is not that you called the coach or owner. Its that you discussed it twelve times with 23 other parents in the viewing room and that they are all awaiting your feedback via DM and over drinks.

3) When there is conflict or issue to be addressed, empower your athlete first. This is a GREAT opportunity to teach our kids to respectfully speak up and ask questions. Let them ask first without being the helicopter. Give them the tools to grow here- let them feel nervous about asking. Then when they do have a productive conversation, they’ll gain the confidence to respectfully ask again later…and that translates beautifully in life long after cheer.

4) Don’t expect to get “your way.” If you are going to ask, be willing to first listen. There are almost always reasons that come to light that explain why Suzy is not point flyer this year, or Jenny got moved to the right side, or Johnny is on L3 instead of L4. The coaches know what they are doing and they have a lot of moving parts-most of which you don’t see because you are not in practice or in staff meetings. Its also a long season ahead and nothing is ever static. So you may have a million valid “concerns” that need to be addressed, but you’ll still need to allow time for the change to happen- and sometimes that change is in us as parents. Instead of trying to get your way, shoot for getting the entire perspective.

5) Trust your gut. The only exception to #4 above is when safety is directly concerned. Then you can be “that parent” all day long.

For Coaches and Gym Owners:
1) Your parents spend a lot of time, energy, and money to be your customers. They trust their most precious things with you. So before you roll your eyes, turn on your gratitude for that and it makes turning on your ears easier.  Hear them out. (we told them to listen to you, too. See above)

2) Build a known policy on how you want “issues” handled. That way your parents know the path to get things resolved and they don’t fester in parent viewing areas and group text messages.

3) Don’t be defensive and don’t be a know-it-all. They are looking for that and will call you out a mile away.  We prefer to never be the smartest one in the room. Or at least never consider ourselves the smartest ones. We’ve been in the industry for nearly 30 years, we’re credentialed to the highest level, we run events and leadership training around the world, and let us assure you…. there is still so much more we can and want to learn. So even when we have good advice to give, we expect that its not always taken and more importantly, we are always seeking to learn even more. Sometimes, those lessons come from other industry experts…and sometimes, yes, sometimes, it comes from “that parent.” Seek those meaningful lessons hidden beneath the fuming mad messages or ill-advised cursing voicemails.

4) Speaking of the crazy screamers: Here’s your opportunity to shine. Let them be heard, and find the way to step up here. Its customer service 101 for your business.- Its not about giving  them “their way” or to “get your own way” (we told them that, too). But it is about listening enough to let them be heard, then seek the lessons in how we as coaches can get better, and then finding a resolution. Sometimes the answer is that you are the coach and these are the reasons, that’s final. More often, its still a place where you maintain your authority as coach, but the resolution comes from a better understanding of why…from both sides. Being heard and understanding your why is far more important than being right.

5) If its safety related, don’t mess up.

And that’s that. For everyone’s sake, lets take the ego out of these conversations and simply go to making progress for the benefit of…all together now: The TEAM!

Go Team!

As always, we’re cheering you on, 

Aly and Andrea

PS- If you’d like book a Parent Session for your program, call Janine Heydrick for booking information: 407-710-8989. (A great vehicle to increase the value in relationships across the gym in a straight forward, researched based but entertaining format from people who know their cheer stuff and also happen to be cheer moms ourselves. Lunch n learn formats are welcome, too!)

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