Extreme Parenting: Mikey

Extreme Parenting: Mikey

"My wife has become obsessed with cheerleading, so I'd like to see my son get out of cheering," says Michael. But he has a deeper concern. "What bothers me the most about my son being in cheerleading, is I'm afraid that he might possibly turn gay. If my son turns gay, I would be blaming my wife."

Anna is thinking of future opportunities for their 7-year-old son, Mikey. "I want my kid to get a full scholarship in cheerleading. He would have a good chance because he started so young." Mikey has been taking lessons for six years, and he started when he was a little over 1 and a half years old. 

Anna admits that she has to force her son to go to practice. "There's days that he just does not want to go. He will fight me all the way to the car," she says. "I'll tell him that he just needs to get over it. I won't allow him to quit cheer. I try to tell him, President Bush was a cheerleader, and Aaron Spelling."

Michael wants his son to put down his pom-poms for good. "He goes to school and is teased by kids. I hate to see him being bullied around because he's in cheer," he reveals. "My wife is getting out of hand and I'm afraid of the repercussions on my son."


"Let me clear one thing up first, because I really understand your concern," Dr. Phil tells Michael. "He's not going to turn gay."

Michael clarifies, "What I was trying to get at is, I would hate to see him go through life being teased as gay."

"I understand your point about it not being a stereotypical male role, although 50 percent of college cheerleaders are male," Dr. Phil points out. Turning to Anna, he says, "What are you thinking here? What are you doing? You started at 1 year and a half."

"Well, because my older daughter was in it, and we were always there at the gym," she replies.

Dr. Phil interrupts. "I don't care if your whole family's in it! You started him at 1 year and a half. And you're making him practice three hours a day three times a week?"

He also points out that Anna bribes Mikey with video games and junk food if he fusses about going to practice. "You can save a quarter a day from now until he gets to college, and have as much money as a cheerleading scholarship will afford you. There are very few schools in the country that award them, because we looked up and found them all, and it's about $3,000 for the scholarship," Dr. Phil makes clear.

"Kids start a lot of stuff and stop," Dr. Phil tells the couple. "They get in baseball and they want to quit. They get in basketball and they want to quit. The truth is, if you're going to discover what his real interests uniquely are, you've got to be willing to just kiss a lot of frogs ... But if you expose him to a lot of different things, then you're going to find the thing that really lights him up. Now isn't that what you need to do with him?"

"Well, I'm willing to let him quit. I mean, it's not going to bother me either way," Anna begins.

Dr. Phil counters, "Well, you've been bribing him and telling him to get over it ,and 'Quit whining and get in the car,' and spending $8,000, and you said, 'We spent so much money on it. How can we quit now?' ... So what you'd rather do is be out the money, and scar the child? Here are your choices: Be out the money or, be out the money and scar the child. Hmm. I think I'll just be out the money. I mean really, don't you think that makes sense?"

Anna replies, "Yes, it does." 

Dr. Phil advises Anna to let up on Mikey and allow him to discover his authentic self. "He may use those skills in gymnastics; he may decide to cheer. Because he has those core skills at this point, when he gets to college, he may decide that he does want to cheer. Who knows? But that's your agenda, not his," Dr. Phil stresses. "And you've exposed him to it, and that was fine, but it's time to back off and let him choose some things."