Encourage Our Boys

Young Male Altar servers lead entrance procession on Trinity Sunday

Traffic wardens have been with us for quite a few years now. When they first appeared on the streets many of them were young men… but where have all the young men gone? I haven’t seen a male traffic warden in St. George’s for a very long time.  I can’t help but wonder why this should be when so many of our young men are unemployed.

A friend of mine graduated recently, along with more than a hundred others from St. George’s University. Most of the graduates were female. I have not checked the numbers from TAMCC or NEWLO but I would be very surprised if the number of female graduates do not greatly outnumber the males there too. The only institution that I know of where the young men outnumber the ladies is His Majesty’s Prison.

Sociologists and educationalists have pointed to the fact that most households are headed by mothers or grandmothers. We see that most school principals, and indeed teachers, are women.  Most boys in Grenada grow up without a strong male role model in their lives. Many mothers, disappointed by the lack of support on the part of the fathers, have very low expectations for their boys. Indeed, some even vent their frustration on their sons leaving the boys with a low level of self-esteem.  However, when the boy is old enough to join others, whom his grandmother would describe as “bad company,” he gets a sense of belonging and even of pride in being a “bad boy.”

Another factor that has come into play especially during the Covid pandemic is the proliferation of electronic devices and the influence of social media. What is it that so many young people are listening to through the ever-present earphones? What is it that they are watching on the screens of their devices?  Who are they communicating with and what are they communicating? It is so sad that nowadays you never see little boys making “rollers”, little trucks, with wheels and a “steering wheel.” Where is the creativity, the inventiveness, and the manual skills that little boys had thirty years ago?

All children need to feel loved. Why is it that even in our churches when treats are being provided for the children, the goodies are so often given by an adult with a stern face, a strict word and a finger raised in warning? Why is it so difficult to speak to children, and especially little boys, with words of affection and praise?

The process of growing from the playful spontaneity of boyhood to the maturity and commitment of manhood is not easy. Boundaries are tested and stretched; independence is asserted. The acceptance of responsibilities often comes with misunderstanding and frustration. Even the parents of Jesus did not understand the behaviour of their twelve-year-old Son (Luke 2:42-50). When a boy accepts responsibility for his daily chores, when he can make realistic but ambitious plans and persist in carrying them out, he can be considered well on the way to becoming a man no matter the number of his years.

The Church can play a very important role in the development of our young men. We know it is so easy for our older members to feel uncomfortable, at what they might consider a lack of respect on the part of children, therefore unsuitable behaviour must not be tolerated, but how it is dealt with is very important. If words of correction are preceded by positive words of encouragement and praise, they will be more readily accepted.

Most importantly, is the fact that the Church belongs to the children and teenagers just as much as it does to the older heads. If the young people are given space, shown appreciation and hear words of encouragement instead of criticism, they are more likely to blossom into mature, responsible missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.

Don’t neglect the girls but be sure to give praise and encouragement to the boys when they deserve it, at home, in school and, most important of all, in your Church.

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