If you’re lucky enough to have a parent that will show up to every competition, or a family who can list the statistics on your past competitors, then you’re one step ahead of most. Unfortunately, the rest are not as lucky. When you participate in a sport that mainly takes place on the weekends, it can sometimes be troubling to get the fathers and siblings on board, especially when they would rather be home on a Sunday afternoon watching football instead of spending the day in a high school gymnasium. Here are five ways to get the rest of your family members involved in the sport of cheerleading, and make it an ultimate family affair.

1. Invest in the team’s spirit wear. Most programs will offer a wide range of spirit wear–t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc. Purchasing the spirit wear will not only give you a sense of unity among the other fans in the building, but from your cheerleader’s point of view, there’s nothing more satisfying than looking out into crowd when you step onto the mat and seeing the sea of your team’s colors in the stands.

2. Let your cheerleader talk about their sport at the dinner table. My daughters love to come home and spend the first ten minutes talking about the new stunt sequences they worked on at practice, or a new skill they were able to throw at tumbling class. Even if you have no idea what they are talking about, if you hear the terms used enough, you will begin to understand; this will give you a chance to get involved in the conversation, and share in their accomplishments. And, when you’re ready, give them some advice! You may not know what you’re talking about, but if they hear you getting involved, they will know you care.

3. Be their shoulder to cry on. Just like any competitive sport, cheerleading has its ups and downs. Sometimes the stunts just don’t hit; sometimes the most elite tumblers will fall; sometimes the music just won’t start, and your child’s team is standing there hopeless on the mat. That’s when they will need you the most, because you can tell them (until you are blue in the face) that this is a team sport, but if something goes wrong, they will always blame themselves first. Let them be your shoulder to cry on. They will always need that unsolicited hug and words of encouragement from their parent.

4. Enjoy the victories together. With every loss, there will always be wins. And, the wins will always feel amazing. Celebrate with your children! Go out for ice cream. Stop for lunch, or make it a point to go out after a competition. Give yourself the opportunity to celebrate as a family. I love more than anything to see my children smile, and when their team does well at a competition, those smiles can be seen for miles away, and there’s nothing wrong with relishing in it.

5. Enjoy the family affair. It may take a while to get your whole family onboard with competition season, but if you make it a point to show the rest of your family how important this sport is to the cheerleader, they will want to be a part of it. They will want to celebrate the wins, and they will want to be the shoulders to cry on. And, most of all, they will want to stay involved.

If you would have told me years ago that my husband would be at every competition, wearing the team t-shirt I bought for him and cheering louder than most of the fans, I would have thought you were crazy. But, the moment he saw how important the sport was to my daughters and I, he just wanted to be a part of it. And, that’s how we made cheerleading a family affair.

How else can you make competitive cheerleading a family affair? Tell us what worked for you in the comments!