Why Do We Cheer for Our Kids?

"I see friends shaking hands, saying 'How do you do?' What they're really saying is 'I love you.'"

Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World'

Love one another deeply, from the heart.

I Peter 1:22, NIV


Why do we cheer so hard, for our kids? We go to basketball games, baseball games, football games, and soccer. The kids run around, half the time not even seeming to know what they are doing, yet we sit in the stands and holler for them as if they are competing in the Olympics. Why do we do that?


It's the graduation season and our kids are about to have their commencement ceremony. Some will "commence" to jobs, others will commence to trade schools and college, others will just commence doing whatever it is they do when they are not in school. We will go to their graduation and cheer madly when they get that little piece of paper that signifies that they are, in fact, ready to commence. Why is that?


We go to band concerts and awards ceremonies and school plays and we cheer and cheer and cheer again. But the same question always comes back: Why do we cheer so hard for our kids?


I think the simple thought contained in Louis Armstrong's wonderful song says it all. It is an extension of the Apostle Peter's inspired commandment to all people of faith. When we do these things - whenever we go out to support our kids at whatever they are doing - it is because we love them. In my small community we might even go a little overboard. While not everyone has kids to cheer for when the Friday night game arrives, the stands are still packed with those who go to cheer for those they have "adopted" for this week's game. 


And we do so as if it's the most important thing that is going on in the world at that time. Each yard gained is a mountain successfully climbed. Each fumble or interception our side makes is deeply mourned. Each penalty called against our side is a result of clear conspiracy by men in striped shirts who have nothing better to do than show up from other towns to persecute our babies. And each touchdown scored is an event so monumental that we just know it's memory will live through the ages with the historical significance on the level of a Presidential election or the discovery of a new land. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. We all know that the results of an election are not nearly as important as what our teams do on the football fields each week. Sometimes I just get carried away...


But that's the point, isn't it? We cheer so wildly for our kids because we are so wild for them. We love them, but it would not seem fitting to stand up and yell this from the top of our lungs from the midst of the stands. So we cheer and whoop and holler for them instead. We say things like, "way to go" and "that's what I'm talking about" but what we are really saying, when we drill down deep to the core of our affections and motivations is just this: "I love you."


And we do so because we truly do love our kids deeply, from the heart, but sometimes it is just too awkward to say it out loud. But we do love them, deeply, and we are privileged to find any excuse to gather at any event so that we can cheer for them. And while we may not be saying the private words in the public places I think that our kids know in their hearts that we really are proud of them for everything that they do, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem to others. 


So we will keep on gathering together for these special events to give out our "attaboys" and "attagirls". But just like Louis Armstrong knew way back when, we too know very well now. What we are really saying is "I love you!"