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Five Ways to Be Your Child’s Cheerleader {Imperfect Moms Day 39}

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Thanks so much for joining us for our Encouragement for Imperfect Moms Series (formerly Imperfect Mom Confessional)! We hope you’ll be blessed, encouraged, challenged and comforted all at once. Please let us know if you need prayer – we’d love to pray for you!

Almost daily it’s likely you pack lunches. You wash your children’s clothes. You do their dishes. You probably even clean up after them, putting away toys and books, making their beds, and picking up their towels off the bathroom floor.

These are all wonderful and motherly ways we show our family we love them. We take care of them. And we do it well.

How do we show support to our children? Specifically, how do we support their dreams?

My children each have what many would consider lofty dreams. One aspires to be an award-winning actress and my other child aspires to run in the Olympics. Some parents may chuckle and brush aside such notions.

I didn’t.

There are hundreds if not thousands of award-winning actors and actresses that span history, right? Just as there are thousands of Olympic hopefuls and heroes. Somebody is going to be the famous actor and someone is going to be a gold medalist. If my children have the work ethic, passion, and drive to achieve those dreams, who am I not to stand behind them and encourage their dreams?

[Tweet “who am I not to stand behind them and encourage their dreams? #imperfectmom @melaniespickett”]

I’m a big believer in God-sized dreams: the big ones He puts in our hearts. After all, God knit us together in our mothers’ wombs and equipped us then for the amazing dreams He has for us!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” ~ Psalm 139:13

 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Click To Tweet

 

I’m not a perfect mother. I so want to be. I’m sure you do too. I struggle with unplugging. In fact, my kids have called me out on this before and I’m not proud to admit it. My babies have rolled their eyes at me more than once and said, “Mom, put your phone down.

It’s humbling. Embarrassing. I’m always very interested in what they’re doing and what they have to say, but I’ll admit, social media preoccupies me. I’m not playing games on my phone or doing something meaningless. I’m checking for an important email or responding to a supportive comment on Facebook. I might be helping a blog commenter with a tough moment she’s struggling through.  What I’m handling through my phone is important but sure doesn’t look like it from where my kids are standing. It’s simply a device that’s drawing my attention somewhere else.

I’ve had to chastise myself about this. When I’m home, I’m trying to be mindful about plugging my phone in to charge and walking away, leaving it in a room where it’s not chained to my side and so easily accessible. My children are teenagers, my oldest is an adult as of this week. I reminded myself that every word they say is precious, even if it’s “where are my socks?” They’re not always going to need me like they do now. They’ll keep growing and maturing and eventually figure out how to take care of themselves.

Even though I’m always genuinely interested in their lives and thoughts, having my nose in my phone when they’re trying to tell me something—even if someone needs me online or via text—makes them feel like the phone itself trumps them. It never, ever does. I’m honored they want to share with me.

I had to really give myself a good, old-fashioned talking to about this and walk away from the gadget. My kids will always be more important than the device, the gadget, social media. I need to visibly show them that and look them in the eyes and prove my interest. It’s a huge way I can show I truly am their biggest fan.

Here are five ways you can support your child and encourage their endeavors:

Unplug

Get off your devices when your children are “center stage.” As you saw above, I’m preaching to myself here as well. I check my phone far too often and sometimes it diverts my attention away from what I should be watching or listening to (side note: I never text and drive). If my son looks up from the track or my daughter peeks out from the stage and they see me using my phone for any other function than to take a picture of their performance, they assume I’m not giving them my full attention. I don’t want that. I want to be fully present, fully visible, cheering from the sidelines. I want to be their biggest cheerleader.

Create a Master Plan

When your child comes to you with a big dream, don’t poo-poo it. Listen to their heart. Have a one-on-one chat about what accomplishing that dream entails. Lay out the steps to achieving the goal so they can visualize what it will really take, what amount of hard work is involved, and what level of commitment they can expect.  Will they need to, for example, start running and working out regularly now if athletics is their dream? Are voice lessons, acting lessons, advanced classes, tutors, etc. something that could advance their goals?

Show Up

When your child has an audition, a game, a play or any activity really, make every effort to show up as much as possible. Work gets in the way often and we all understand that, even our children do. But do your very best to make their achievements a priority. If it’s possible to take a few hours off work to attend a game or give up something else to be able to cheer on your child, do so if you can. Make sure they know you put them first for this occasion.

Research

Do some research on your own about their chosen dream.  Find out how you can be more supportive and foster their interests. Maybe your budding nuclear physicist would love a microscope or some books about the profession. Your future doctor might be able to shadow her pediatrician for an afternoon. Get tickets to a pro basketball game for your future basketball star or an art set for your budding painter. Allow them to explore those options and see if what they dream to become fits their character. If it doesn’t, they can always dream a new dream!

Accept Defeat…Sort Of

About that new dream…if your child discovers they really aren’t into all the long hours of training she’ll need to endure to be in the Russian ballet, accept it. Give them a pat on the back for trying something new. If you’ve paid in advance for some sort of class or training, I’d strongly encourage that they follow through. Doing so teaches them the value of your dollars, your willingness to support their dream, and the importance of commitment.

My son was very interested in joining band in junior high so we invested in instrument rental and half way through the school year, he wasn’t interested any more. I accepted that. If it’s not something he really loves, he’s going to grow to loathe it and it’ll be drudgery. I said he’d have to complete the year of band and do his best, but I wouldn’t force him to be in band again the next year. He fulfilled his commitment. The instrument went back to the music store after the rental was no longer needed. He chose robotics for the next year.

Whatever your children dream, be their biggest cheerleader. Support and love them and let them know that whatever they aspire to do, you’ll be there to spur them on and help however you’re able. I believe this will make a significant difference as they press on into adulthood. It means the world when you know somebody has your back and believes in you, and as parents we most certainly want to be that somebody.

Whatever your children dream, be their biggest cheerleader. Click To Tweet

MelanieHeadshotAbout the Author: Melanie Pickett is a writer and blogger whose current work in progress is a nonfiction book about survivors of abusive relationships. Melanie has been featured on BlogHer, Splickety Magazine, Whole Magazine, Breathe Writers Conference blog, and has been a guest writer on various other blogs. She writes regularly at her own blog, www.melaniespickett.com. Melanie is a substitute teacher, likes reading, exercise, hockey, and being the best cheerleader for her two teenagers. She and her children along with her husband enjoy life on the coast of western Michigan. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope: @Flying_Blonde, Bloglovin, Instagram & Google Plus.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Great tips, especially unplugging. It can be hard with our phones constantly alerting us, but all too often I see parents absorbed in their phone at the park instead of watching what their kid is trying to show them.

    1. Thanks, Marissa! I see the same thing so I’ve tried really hard not to be the parent with her nose in her phone. 🙂

  2. This is a beautiful post, Melanie, thank you for sharing! My little guy is 13 months, but already I find myself consumed with working on my blog or engaging in social media, and letting myself get distracted from him, and all the amazing things he’s learning and doing. I don’t want him to grow up only seeing me with a phone in front of my face! It’s something I’m trying to work on now before he gets older and starts noticing. I also love the tips you give to build up your child’s dreams. Mine’s a little small for those, but I know when I was growing up, every performance my parents made it too, every minute they supported my dreams was such a big deal.

    1. Jenn, we didn’t have many cell phones (just giant flip phones and they were so new) and social media when my kids were babies so I didn’t have the distraction then. But now it’s a struggle that I have to be mindful of. There’s nothing on that phone that’s more important to me than being present in their lives now. I call myself out on it. 🙂 Yes, it matters when we support our kids’ endeavors. Their dreams may change a dozen times but each time they have one, it’s important to them.

  3. I am working on when to have the phone or computer in full action versus full on direct contact with my family. I probably encourage my younger kids than my older kids because I want them to be a little more realistic in their goals. If you want to be xxx what kinds of things do you need to do to achieve that goal.

    1. Right! Educating them on what achieving their dreams looks like is great!

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