I woke up this morning to discover that today is International Day of the Girl Child. Apparently this is the second year in a row for this day of observing the value of girls around the globe. A quick jaunt around the Internet, I found myself engulfed in articles about the at risk state of our girl children globally from forced childhood marriages, to lack of education opportunities, teen pregnancy and sex trafficking.
The message of devaluing girls strikes a chord with me as a mother to seven daughters, six of whom were adopted from very hard places. Daily I see the pain of neglect, abuse and trauma in the lives of my children, but it doesn’t stop there. You see, having seven daughters also means having seven daughters whose friends visit our home and become a part of our lives. Most of them come from broken families. No, they may not have been in foster care and their parents haven’t physically abandoned them, but they’re desperately looking for validation and love just the same.
As adults, we lament about the state of sexuality in our girls. We rail at the antics of Miley Cyrus. And we roll our eyes at the groups of teenage girls walking through the mall wearing clothing that exposes way too much skin. But when was the last time we looked into the eyes of our daughter, niece, next door neighbor, or the teen cashier we see at the grocery store weekly and said, “You’re beautiful.”
Long before our girls are homeless, long before they are being held captive in sex slavery and long before they’re pregnant and alone in this world, someone didn’t notice their beauty, value and worth. For most girls, it only takes one responsible adult who becomes involved in their life to change the course of their life and help them believe that they can be someone who is valued and successful.
Today, most of us won’t come into contact with a girl whose been trafficked or marginalized in the horrific ways that we see around the world. We will come in contact with the girls in our community and homes. Let’s celebrate and honor them today as the valuable and amazing future women that they are and take the time to say, “You’re beautiful.” It may be the first time they’ve heard it in their entire life.
Pam Parish is Women's and Communications Pastor at Victory World Church in Atlanta; she is also an Empowered to Connect Trainer for foster and adoptive parents and an adoptive parent to seven teen and young adult girls.
Publication date: October 11, 2013