Where Are The Cheerleaders?

In an airport recently I happened to see the final seconds of a televised basketball game. Since our family doesn’t have TV at home, it isn’t often that I see the mass hysteria that accompanies a close athletic contest. This particular game was a cliffhanger and the crowd was frantic as the seconds ticked off the clock and the buzzer sounded the climax. Then the field house erupted with noise as the clock decided the hard-fought contest. The fans were on their feet screaming and the cheerleaders were leaping and doing handsprings at the edge of the court.

I remarked to Marilyn later what strange creatures we humans are. Two teams of five men each, selected from the best of the best and prepared by thousands of hours of training, throw an air-filled ball around a gym and through a net hanging from a metal hoop. All the while, thousands look on as though the fate of the world was being decided on the polished hardwood floor in front of them. We do love our play.

And I have no quarrel with those who like to play. I like to play myself, and when work permits I’m always ready for a good time. Nobody denies that there is time in a Christian’s life for rest and recreation. Still, it seems that we’ve overdone it a bit. Isn’t there something wrong with a society in which professional game-players are worshipped while accomplishments of eternal importance go unnoticed?

As a parent advocate, I’d like to see more cheering for parents. I think what moms and dads do is worthy of some applause. In fact, a whole lot of applause. After all, which is more important—throwing balls through hoops or forming little souls who will live forever? Where are the cheerleaders who do handsprings when a frazzled young mom puts her preferred activity on the back burner for the umpteenth time in a day in order to read a story to a three-year-old? Who’s waving the pompoms for the dad who works long hours at a job that’s not all that much fun, in order to provide a home for his wife and little ones? Not to deny the hard work and sacrifice it takes to excel at sports, what group is more important and less appreciated than are parents?

Where are the cheerleaders? Who’s noticing and admiring those who rock the cradle, change the diapers, pay the bills and never have a real day off? Parents are the unsung heroes of every race, nation and neighborhood. They daily put aside their own wants in order to meet the needs of those who depend on them for everything. There ought to be some cheering going on.

Our society isn’t very family-friendly any more. The government views parents as laymen who can’t be trusted to educate their own children, or even to choose their schools. Certified professionals are needed they say, and in fact a whole “village” is needed to meet the needs of children because parents just aren’t up to the job. But just a couple of generations ago, Americans knew that it does not take a village to raise a child, and anybody who said otherwise would have been considered a village idiot.

It’s too bad, but a lot of modern churches have fallen into that way of thinking. If you sing a song beautifully or preach a brilliant sermon, or sell your home and go to the mission field or give away fifty gospel tracts in a week, you will be praised and respected. And you should be. But what if all you sang this week were children’s songs and lullabies? What if your sermon was heard not by five hundred people but by one five-year-old? What if you did fifty diaper changes this week? Are you less spiritual or less valuable because your labors of love seem mundane compared with more public achievements?

I think mothers are especially undervalued. I’m a dad and my hat is off to other dads because I know what they do and how hard it is to do it well. But surely moms are the classic unsung heroes. Their work is never done and seldom even put on hold. They work the day shift and the night shift as well. Everybody in the house—including Dad—takes his problems and concerns to Mom so that she seldom has time to think about her own. She’s the cleaning lady, the cook, the grocery shopper, the bill payer and the lifeguard. She wears so many hats that she sometimes feels she needs more heads and that the one she has is seldom on straight. By the way, if a certain somebody should ever read this…Thanks, honey.

Three cheers for parents! They are the ones who give their all, all the time. And their work is so much more important to the world than that for which some people make millions. The next time you see a young mom or a young couple out with their little ones, don’t just watch them walk by. Compliment them on what a nice family they have and how encouraging it is to see such well behaved children--­even if they’re not being perfect at the moment. Every day, all over the country, parents are giving their all. Somebody ought to be cheering.


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