Everyone needs a personal cheerleader from time to time, especially when overwhelmed with challenges. Being an adult is not as fun as it seems, and your parents – whether you know it or not – are fighting battles every single day to keep your family healthy, happy, and financially afloat. Adults are allowed to have off days, but sometimes, unexpected factors come into the picture that could turn one bad day into bad weeks or months – even years! Your parents might not ask for help, but they could probably use a morale boost more often than not. And, what better job for a cheerleader than to pep up your parents? As you grow older, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture: your parents make sacrifices for your lifestyle, put you first no matter what, and keep you safe from the big, bad world out there. You have to remember to acknowledge their efforts (on days other than Father’s Day and Mother’s Day), and cheer them up when they need it! Just because they’re older doesn’t mean that they don’t need a little extra support. If you think your mom or dad is in a funk, there are four easy and effective ways to turn their frowns upside down.

1. Curb the complaints.
Your life isn’t all that easy either, and there’s always something in the world that you could possibly complain about. But, if your parents are truly experiencing a frustrating day, proceed with caution. Pick your battles. If have to let your parents know about a dire problem, then by all means, do it! But, if you’re just trying to vent about your classes, or your friends, or your team, why not wait until a better time surfaces. The last thing you want to do is make your parents mad by expressing your feelings at the wrong time… which only gives you more to complain about in the long run…

2. Show compassion. Even if you’re not the most touchy-feely person, your parents will always appreciate a hug from you. They’ve been your shoulder to cry on your entire life, and now might be a good time to return the favor. You might even catch your parents off-guard by asking if they’re OK! Nine times out of 10, your parents will probably be dealing with stuff that’s over your head, or stuff they don’t want to worry you about, so you might not get the most feedback. But, at least you can say you tried!

3. Lend a hand. You’re a busy cheerleader, and because of your activities, you probably don’t have much free time to spare. However, you know full well that you can squeeze in a little bit of time at night or in the morning to make your parents feel appreciated. Try to organize your room before you leave for school or offer to cook breakfast to lessen your parents’ to-do list one day. Or, maybe you can chip away their workload by contributing small amounts of time to their career needs. Is one of your parents in school? Help them study for an upcoming exam. Is one of your parents so swamped at work that they’re bringing the office home? Ask if you could help wrap up the project’s minor details instead of watching TV one night. Chances are, your parents need to do their work themselves, but there’s no harm in asking. Plus, if you help take stress off their backs, you end up with a much happier home life!

4. Don’t fear the worst. What if it’s not career stress affecting your parents, but it’s family stress? Relationships and marriages are hard to uphold, and there are times when people just aren’t getting along. Before you slide down a fear spiral, let the grown-ups figure it out. Being caught in the middle is not a good place to be, but don’t make it even worse by making the situation about you. If anything, start doing the first three tips above, and you might see things improve! If you fear the worst, your anxiety will transcend into your school, social, and cheerleading spheres–and it might be for no reason! So, take a deep breath, be optimistic, and cheer your parents on as they work stuff out. 

How else can you be a cheerleader for your parents? Share stories of how you helped out in the comments!