Raising strong, confident and emotionally healthy little girls in this post-modern era can be challenging.
As caregivers to girls, we’ve got to be intentional with them – carefully and consistently tying their self-concept to the right placeholders and equipping them to distinguish fact from fiction (as it relates to their value) from an early age. The older we get, the more exposure we have to false messages; so, empowering our girls with a secure sense of self-worth in early developmental stages will only help them recognize false messaging and equip them to stand for their worth when necessary as they grow.
I served on the front lines of international relief work, compassionate ministry, global missions partnerships, and community development projects throughout Latin America for many years. This work exposed me to global insecurities caused by: the lack of access to food, education, or healthcare; the prevalence of preventable diseases; the oppression of human trafficking; the absence of clean water; and, more. Although the disparities against the global poor happen to boys, girls, families and communities without partiality, the disparities against girls and women universally are greatest. 1 in 2 girls worldwide are at-risk.
My field work in places like Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Haiti taught me a lot about the vulnerability factors that girls face in those cultural contexts.
I took seriously the words of Mother Teresa:
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
I tried to serve in the ways that God asked me to serve – to do something about the inequities, disparities, and sometimes systemic injustices, that I observed. That work translated into many activities like nutrition therapy for infants and children; medical clinics that served thousands; public health campaigns; the construction of schools, churches, and playgrounds; and, clean water projects. Meanwhile, I realized that the work (as important as it might have been) was a drop in the ocean. And then, my husband and I had a daughter. I gave birth to a girl and the burden to serve girls, including my own, intensified for us both.
Raising a daughter is the most wonderful and challenging thing I have done.
The journey often leads me to personal reflection and motivates me to resolve the insecurities and vulnerabilities that live inside of me, too. After all, modeling healthy behavior is a significant part of parenting; but it cannot be truly achieved unless we take seriously the important work of healing the hurt in our own lives. Otherwise, hurt can become cyclical. And it spreads, hurting those we love the most.
Along the way, I’ve discovered how interconnected all of this really is. There is no separation of these parts. Teaching my daughter her true worth ultimately challenged our family to find ways that we could stand for the value of girls everywhere. This led me to write a Christian children’s book called Heaven’s Royalty, That’s Me!™. It’s a powerful and hope-filled book that affirms the beauty, authenticity, and inherent worth of GIRLS all over the GLOBE; and, emboldens them to use their gifts and strengths to make a compassionate difference in the world. After the book was published, we created an event series called Heaven’s RoyalTEA™ to share the book’s message with as many girls as possible. The book and the event series generate profits that directly benefit education programs for girls and supports anti-human trafficking organizations. On top of that, my daughter gets to part of, shaped by, and participate in this important work!
As mothers and caregivers, we want our daughters to grow in the absolute security of their worth.
A worth that doesn’t change regardless of their circumstances. A worth that isn’t defined by successes or mistakes. Even more, let’s show them that life is not lived in a silo. We are all interconnected – and our ultimate “calling” or mission is connected too. As we help our daughters connect with their own gifts and strengths, let’s encourage them to express those abilities in ways that create ripples. Ripples that remember other girls in the process. Ripples that change the world.
Selena Holston Gabriel is an Orlando-based Christian children’s author, minister, international relief and missions mobilizer, community organizer, youth advocate, and change catalyst. Selena is author of Heaven’s Royalty, That’s Me!™ and creator of Heaven’s RoyalTEA™. She created Heaven’s RoyalTEA™ to share the message and mission of her book in partnership with churches, schools, and Christian groups. Events include a dramatic monologue of the children’s book, book sales, and a book signing-session with the author. For more information, to purchase Heaven’s Royalty, That’s Me!™ or to schedule an event, visit selenaholstongabriel.com.