A Cry For Help From Boys To Men In The Community: Are You Listening?
By Donovan Grant
Have you ever had one of those experiences and you said to yourself “wow, I wish my friends were here to see this?” It was the kind of situation that touches you in a way that you knew that things like this don’t happen by chance. It was one of those meant to be moments!
As a Londoner for over 40 years, one thing I know for sure is that Saturday’s are normally reserved for things like shopping, car washing and getting the house in order. So it was a truly pleasant surprise to see hundreds of people gathered at the Tabernacle church in Lewisham,
The burning desire is to increase life chances and raise aspirations of the section of the community that was supposed to be paving the way for others. This is a huge task! Many have tried and failed before. However the organisers were prepared to do the heavy lifting; they informed, inspired and entertained the hungry audience through an array of speakers.
All the speakers duly spoke from the heart with rich content…
Bishop Wayne Malcolm shared the vision that changing from a ‘job for life’ mind-set to an ‘entrepreneur for life’ mind-set absolutely necessary.
Katharine Birbalsingh passionately reminded us that when we give a child nothing and he appreciates everything and when we give him everything and he appreciate nothing.
And Sonia Brown MBE made it plain to any man listening “it’s time to reclaim your minds and reclaim your homes!”
This was not just another get together of “do gooders” sitting through another re-run of mission impossible. This was a community united and looking for direction, inspiration and ready to take action. The funny thing was, the message that got the audience engrossed from the core wasn’t one of our esteemed panel. It was the voice some of our young men. They had filmed a video sharing their honest perspective of the men in the community. This was the truth straight from the youth. No punches pulled!
Here are just five keys the young men want the men and fathers in the community to know and act on:
Key #1: Give us a chance to try for ourselves
They know fathers want sons to stand tall among their peers when they are out in the world. However, dads are not giving the lads’ full reign. The boys welcome the chance to ‘give it a go’ and learn from their mistakes. They recognise that failure is a part of growing up. So show them the trust that they deserve and be there if they need you.
Key #2: Praise your sons as well as putting them down
There was a unanimous voice of concern that fathers mostly see the wrong that boys do. Fathers always seem to show up when it’s time for a scolding. Where are you when they need to be congratulated, celebrated and uplifted? They want a more even balance. When you only see the bad stuff, this is the quickest route to your sons developing a low self-esteem. Give them the recognition for the positive contributions that they make inside and outside the home. It's important to focus on the development of the child.
Key #3: Reach out and give us a hand up
The boys sense there is disconnect between them and men in general and the gap is getting wider. It’s almost as if the boys and men speak a different language. The essence of it is that both sides are afraid of each other because they have lost touch. The voice of the young men is say "help us" and "connect with us"; they are asking you to look beyond the young bravado look they carry as an image. Out of respect for you their elders, they are waiting for you to reach out your hand of guidance. Can you help a child?
Key #4: Believe in our potential
The young men made it clear that they all deep down have great aspirations. At the same time they feel they are not taken seriously. They have within them the seeds of doctors, lawyers, writers, teachers, leaders, CEO’s and all the nice roles that you want them to have. What they need is for a man to touch them on the shoulder and say “hey young man, keep on going, you can do this.” They want you to go back to the spirit of the old community values where the questions were “what do you aspire to be?” instead of “what do you want from me?”
Key #5: Successful men need to keep the door open for the youth
They sense an epidemic in the community. They feel there is a growing group of successful men who achieve a great status and then they are not looking back. These men appear to them as selfish and ‘me focused’. They boys say that many of these men are closing doors in their faces rather than saying ‘let me help you overcome that challenge’. The boys message is simple there is a young man who would love you to be their mentor. They see you as a role model and they see you as someone who has chosen to turn them away rather than lead them. Open the door and let them in. They want a hand up and not a hand out.
This event on Saturday 18th June 2011 did not happen by chance; this was meant to be. My heart is still stirred. If this was a paid event it would have been worth every penny. So what’s the next step?
This is the thing- When we come away from the bubble of an inspirational seminar we step back into real life! The warm glow wears off and we face everday life’s challenges like work, bills, regular chores and all the other things that are part of family living.
We can easily forget about all the notes that we wrote down for later reference, about the changes that we were going to implement and about the difference we are going to make in lives of our young men.
Here’s a challenge for you action takers….
1. Let’s take five minutes to review the 5 keys above and choose one that speaks to your heart. What is one action that you can take towards it every day for the next seven days? (If you skip a day or fail to follow through, start again from day one.)
2. If you are a black man in the community, then I would highly recommend that you visit the “Black Men In The Community” website and register to be a part of the change. Your community needs you.
I believe in you and your family!
Let's get together and be the change you want to see in the community. Take action today!
Donovan Grant is a coach, mentor, blogger, speaker and IT professional who brings his wisdom of parenting for the last 21 years and coaching clients through the stages of raising youth and empowering leaders with life lessons that are changing generations. He is a passionate and committed leader who believes that we all have the ability to help to change someone else’s life. Actively doing so as a catalyst for many years he teaches how to live a life of success, balance, integrity and fun, whether at work or at play. www.donovangrant.com