Parents seem more involved in their children’s lives than ever before. Parents who were too involved used to be called “overprotective’; now, “helicopter parenting’, or “over-parenting’, is trending and can be very frustrating as a coach. To avoid a lot of parent interruption, some gyms hold closed practices, but most times after practice, coaches can be bombarded with questions from parents about their child. With that in mind, here are four simple ways you can strengthen your relationship with your team’s parents: 1. Communication. Probably the biggest issue parents have is communication: parents want to know what is going on with the team, and, of course, their child. Have you talked to a teen lately? Trying to have good communication can be difficult, and you are usually met with one-word answers: “How was practice? ” “Good. ” “How was school? ” “Fine. ” “What did you do? ” “I don’t know, stuff. ” It is no wonder that parents are bombarding you with questions‚ they cannot get any information from their kid! As the coach, you have to have open lines of communication, whether that is by email, by phone, or setting aside time after practice to talk to a few of the parents. Cheerleading is expensive, and parents want to know that their child is getting the attention they think is due! This does not mean you have to stay hours after practice every week to talk to each parent: let them know that they can email you, and you can set aside time at a later date to discuss their specific questions, needs, or concerns. 2. Expectations. When joining a new team, there is usually a meeting with the team to go over new season expectations, code of conduct, and responsibilities. A parent meeting should also be held with a new team. Parents need to know what is to be expected of them because, especially with a youth team, you need a lot of help from the parents! Parents can help with transportation, putting together fundraisers, etc. Make it clear from the start what the parent expectations are, how they can communicate with you, and what codes of conduct apply to parents. Sometimes, because parents love their children and want to see them do their best, there is always at least one parent that goes a bit overboard, and as the coach, you need to reel them in a bit. 3. Open practice. Some coaches hate the idea of open practice; some really enjoy it. The same goes for parents: some just drop their kid off at practice, and others want to sit and watch. Once a week or once a month, allow an open practice, so the parents who want to come and watch their cheerleader can see how they have improved. Limiting open practices gives you time as a coach to be a coach, and have control of your team. Opening practices once a week or once a month also allows the parents to feel involved, and to see your coaching style. 4. Show gratitude. Parents really do not get the acknowledgement they deserve. Most parents are juggling more than one kid, a job, making sure dinner is ready, helping with their children’s homework, going to school, etc. It is amazing that parents get anything done, and, because of that, you should let them know how much you appreciate them helping out with fundraisers, transporting multiple kids to competitions, helping with makeup and hair, and all the extra stuff that goes along with making a team function! Have your cheerleaders do something nice for their parents, like a spaghetti dinner or putting on a special performance for their parents. Not a lot of teams do this, and it really does make a difference to the parents‚ for they really do deserve a little praise every now and then! Parents are an integral part of a cheerleading team, and having a good relationship with parents is very important for coaches. Cheerleading teams and parents become family: you spend so much time together traveling and going to competitions, that having a good relationship between the coach and parents can really make or break a team! Having open communication, clear expectations, open practices, and showing a little gratitude can go a long with repairing or starting new relationships with your team’s parents. What else can cheer coaches do to strengthen parent relationships? What worked for your team? Let us know your tips in the comments!