“You are a prince.”
Quite often as a youth pastor, I would remind the young ladies in class that they were unique and beautiful just the way they were. I would tell them, “You are a child of the King. You are special. You are a princess!” As I was sharing this with my high school students a few years ago, I was reminded by the longing in their eyes and the desperation of their stories that the boys need it too – they need the reminder that they are imago dei (made in His image) and that they too are very special. Each young man is a prince. We need to remind them often.
“You excel at _____________________.”
I am amazed at how a few simple words can make a world of difference. We need to notice the good in what our young men are doing. It’s so easy to focus on the bad boys or the statistics; however, if we really pay attention, we will see that each young man has something incredible to offer others and the world. Be an encourager. Take the time as a father, mentor, pastor, teacher, or friend to look past the low grades, the clothing choices, the bad habits, or attitude and notice what he is good at and then go tell him!
“You may cry in my presence.”
They think it’s shameful. They hold it in. They keep it bottled up. The time comes when they release it but it comes out spewing with violence or the tears are shared in anger with someone else when you could have made a difference. It’s high time that we have more grown men who let the younger know: It is human and normal to feel, to share, and to weep. There’s healing to be found in tears released. There’s power to be found from an older man saying that it’s okay.
“You can break the cycle.”
His dad has a temper and he’s learning it well. His mom has given up and he’s following suit. There are so many troubles and traits that we pick up from our parents and their parents. Our boys need to hear that it can stop with them. They can be the change agent and stop the brutal cycle of hurt, pain, addiction, or anger. Telling them it can be done provides them with hope and often with the words they needed just to take one more step toward a better tomorrow.
“You are worth a hug.”
We have a generation of young men who are in need of healthy hugs. A hug says, “I believe in you.” A hug shows them we care and that we are not ashamed to be near. Hugs are not homosexual. Hugs are life giving, confidence building, hope producing expressions of concern and compassion. Let them know that they are worth it and give one away – today.