If you can cheer, you can parent

I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite some time. I tried to find a link to the video, but it doesn’t seem to exist. You’ll have to settle for my description (as best I can recall it).

Cue camera for a close up of a little boy on a basketball court. He says something along the lines of, “I would love to have someone cheer for me at my games. I wish I didn’t have to switch schools so many times. I really just want a bedroom to call my own.” Then you hear some facts about kids in foster care. The camera fades out to a screen showing an adoption website. Then, we hear, “If you can cheer, you can parent.”

Wait. What? That’s all it takes to parent? Really?

So, today’s Mother’s Day and thoughts of this commercial have me wondering, why do we need days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? I mean, it’s no big deal to just cheer. It doesn’t take that much to be a parent apparently, so why should be celebrated so?

I have problems with this commercial on all kinds of levels. First off, a person considering adoption needs to consider a hell of a lot more than whether or not he or she can cheer. Can you financially take care of that child? Can you emotionally handle all of the ups and downs of “normal” parenting as well as the added issues that will come from a child who is adopted? (Let me elaborate on that – You don’t know what home life this child is coming from. You can’t expect an older child to walk through your doors and automatically be oh so grateful and loving. You can’t predict how other people will treat that child. If you have biological children, you need to be sure that they are ready to love and accept another child as part of the family, as one of their own. The list goes on.) Whether you are adopting an infant or an older child, are you prepared for how drastically parenthood changes your life?

None of this is said to discourage someone from adoption. Personally, I think adoption is a fabulous choice to become a parent. If had the financial resources, I would adopt a child in a heartbeat. Why? Because I do want more children. Because biology means jack squat to me. Because I am emotionally prepared for all of those other things.  I would certainly be prepared to do a hell of a lot more than cheer!

I also wonder about teens watching this commercial. Teens who are told over and over again how difficult parenting is and how they should make sure to prevent pregnancy (preferably through abstinence, but if that’s not going to happen, with birth control/condoms). Now, you’re telling them that all it takes to parent is an ability to cheer? I know this commercial is geared towards a completely different set of people, but the message is the same.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2009 over 100,000 kids were in public foster care awaiting adoption in the United States. Please keep in mind that these figures are only reflective of kids in the US who are in foster care. It does not include kids from other countries or kids in group care facilities. Yes, I think adoption is a great option for parents to be (and not just those who look to it as a “last resort” but to those who agree that biology means jack squat and the love you have for YOUR child transcends blood lines). I just think that it’s foolish to claim that parenting is as easy as cheering for a child.

Whether you gave birth to your child or adopted your child, parenting is tough business. Maybe if people realized that earlier on, we’d actually have fewer kids in need of adoption.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. I’m not a mom yet but I agree with your assessment here. My mom did a heck of a lot more than just “cheer” and I think it definitely takes a lot more than that!

    Reply

    • I’ve only seen this commercial once, and I can’t find a trace of it online. My guess is that they realized how ridiculous it was and pulled it!

      Reply

  2. Wonderful post! You’re absolutely right – Parenting is far more than simply cheering. It’s hard works in the trenches of the very meaning of love.

    Reply

  3. Dayle, I’m with you on this one. While I think the underlying message is about supporting our kids (adopted or not) and instilling stability for the sake of their sanity and social lives, there are way too many scary people adopting kids these days. On the other hand, there are just as many if not more qualified single parents that get rejected for adoption just because the family structure isn’t perfect. And on a note of irony, we could discuss the whole issue of parents who ruin kids sports because of the way they cheer (or yell)! Great topic and glad you finally found a chance to post this. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    Reply

    • Valerie, you’ve hit on a few more issues near and dear to my heart! Not just single parent adoption, but same sex couple adoption as well.

      Happy Mother’s Day to you as well 🙂

      Reply

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