Feminist Parenting: When to encourage

All year the kid has been talking about how she wants to join cheerleading. Yes, her school has a cheer program for grades 1-8. One of her BFFs is in it this year and the kid has told me time & again that she wants in too.


I tried out for cheerleading, so I'm not totally opposed to it. But cheerleading has gotten far more athletic than back in my day. Which is why I would let her try out. She's great at gymnastics! Plus the thought of cheerleading helping to get the kid to be more vocal in public, well, that's a bonus too. But then I think about how sexualized cheerleading has also become with all the sexy dances...I start to gag. I also don't want her to learn that girls cheer for boys and no one else.

I've tried to find out if the cheerleaders cheer for both boys and girls basketball, if the squad does routines appropriate for all 1st - 8th graders and if the coach is certified. I'm willing to try this out.

The thing is that the kid's tune has changed! She doesn't want to try out. I think she's fearful of the trying out aspect. I get that.

Now I wonder, should I be more encouraging, even thou I have no idea if this cheer thing is actually beneficial? What if I encourage her and I hate it? But do I really let her not try something out of fear? Ay!

I keep reminding myself that the kid is in gymnastics, soccer and theater. Does she really need one more thing? No. So that's where I land. I've ruled out cheerleading solely on the basis that she doesn't need one more thing to do. And I really don't want to ever push her to do anything.

So why I do I feel so damn guilty?


Anjali said...

I'm sure if she's really interested, she'll come back to cheerleading.

(Of course, what do I know. My 8-year old daughter plays football!)

Veronica said...

haha! Thanks.

Kate said...

ok i'm not a mom, but i have to chime in, because i think the cost/benefit analysis here says you've dodged a bullet :) imho, there are always something better a girl could be doing with her time and energy other than *cheering other people on*, you know? if that sounds judgmental, well, so be it.

my mother steadfastly refused to let us do cheerleading in middle school, and looking back on it, i'm like gosh...thank you, mama. i actually played basketball instead of watching it from the sidelines. and if a kid's not athletic (so it sounds like ella's into sports right now), it could be art, or theater, or science club or whatever. the principle of cheerleading, regardless of how athletic or competitive it's become, is just something i can't get behind!

An "Other" Mother said...

Doesn't this always seem to be the conundrum? Your feminist consciousness causes you to critically examine every decision you make with your children but then the social influence kicks in and the guilt starts to creep in and ruin everything!

Veronica said...

Kate: I feel the same way most of the time about cheer leading. Her daddy told her last night, "You know, people are going to cheer for you."

Other Mother: My guilt is more about not doing more to encourage her to follow what I know she wants to do. She's clearly afraid of the try out system. But I can't make her either. One day we'll be revisiting this issue and when we do, there might not be much debate on our end. LOL!