Friends as Cheerleaders

Alright. Some people feel that they want friends who will support them no matter what. Who will always be their cheerleader.

In my opinion, this is not a good thing, folks.

I believe, instead, we should be seeking friends who will tell us when we’re wrong. Who will be gentle and loving and always watch out for us and ‘be there’ when we need them… but who will not watch us march down the wide, straight path to hell while chanting “ooh, rah, sis boom bah.”

My work friend in yesterday’s post… she was a good cheerleader. My very vengeful solution to my problem was cheered by her. But her cheerleading was not GOOD for me.

Let’s say that Randy comes home from work one day and pisses me off. And I call Abby and tell her, that’s it, that’s the last straw, I’m leaving and taking the kids, can I move to her farm? What should she say? “Sure, I’ll get out the spare mattress”? Or “Oh, no, Sarah, I can hear how frustrated you are. How about if I watch your kids for a few hours and you can have some alone time with Randy to talk?” or “Do you want to come talk with me for a while?” or “can i meet you for coffee?” or a hundred other things that would 1) affirm my feelings and 2) remind me of my moral values.

Or, in a real life example, when my mom was alive, I’d often hit a level of frustration with her where I was ready to just stop talking to her. Randy would come home from work and I’d be stewing and I’d yell about being DONE with her, that was it, yadda yadda. And I meant it, too. And he’d listen to me. And he’d let me talk. (Well-trained, that one. I’m not joking, I did train him to do this.) And when I was calmed down, if I was still talking cutting her off, he’d interject some common sense about how I couldn’t really do that, and it wasn’t really right, etc. And he was right, of course. Particuarly because I think his preference would have been to not have her in our lives, either. But he encouraged me to do what was right. Not what was appealing.

Friends don’t let friends do stupid crap.

Less dramatic, and at least semi-related to real life. Let’s say that I’m planning a VBAC in Des Moines and I’m with a caregiver known to be unsupportive but I don’t realize that. I have, in fact, gone on and on about how my doctor is so wonderful and has said I can labor and birth however I want. I would want friends who have the balls to say to me “hey, I know how important this is to you, and I know you can have a VBAC. You might be interested in knowing that Dr. so and so kind of has a reputation around town for being unsupportive of VBAC in the last weeks of pregnancy.”

I feel like I’m being clear as mud here. I should never have stopped after the first post, I should have just kept going. Now I’ve kind of lost my train of thought.

I’ve seen, in my life, among people I know, unhealthy friendships disguised as healthy friendships. I’ve certainly had plenty of these myself, in my teen years. Unhealthy friendships are those in which a person’s own morals and values are compromised to maintain the friendship, those in which there’s not a balance of cheerleading vs. realism, those in which the friends drag each other down instead of lifting each other up. I think so many people don’t stop to examine their friendships, or take the time to consider friends in the first place. They are happy they have friends, and leave it at that.

But just as with music and movies, our friends can influence us in ways we don’t necessarily realize, and they can be unhealthy influences. We’re keenly aware of this problem in teenagers, but seem to think it goes away when we’re adults.

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3 responses to “Friends as Cheerleaders

  1. i posted that i was a cheerleader, but by reading your definition, i hope to hell i am not. i am not the big hootered,blond bimbo cheerleader. i am a cheerleader in the sense of being an encourager. never did i scream and jump up and down for the kid that scored for the other team or the poor sport or dirty player that was breaking the rules. we always clapped when the player that was down, was able to get up and limp to the sidelines. we were thrilled with the victory, but supportive in a defeat, that the best effort was given and we could be proud of the game that was just completed. I try to give my winning and defeated friends something to keep their eye on, to hand them a hanky and say, come on, we can do this next part together. I share in their joys and am glad to sing their praises to others. I don’t tolerate poor behavior for personal gain. I am scared to death of where this country will go in the next 4 years. I play by GOD’s rules and i don’t mean gods rules. I will encourage as much as possible, but never in actions that go against was is right. I have hated, wanted revenge, taken wrong turns, used bad judgement. I has made me understand all the more how easy it is to do these things. So I will stand at the finish line and scream my head off for the runner who doesn’t think they can make it…and I will go out and help them finish the race…

    • I think having the gift for encouragement is awesome. I was not at all implying that all cheerleading is bad. Clearly, the world needs encouragers, and we all need our friends to cheer for us. I thought about incorporating this into my post, but it just wasn’t where I was headed here.

  2. Your remarks remind me of some celebrities. How these people start heading down a dark road and no one steps up and says, “Hey, this isn’t good for you. You really shouldn’t do that.”. Instead they just stand by and let them do what ever they want because they are rich, famous etc. They are not the kind of friends anyone needs.

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