Dr. Tim Clinton: Welcome into Family Talk, the broadcast division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Dr. Tim Clinton, co-host of Family Talk. I also serve as president of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Thank you for joining us today. You know, parents do their best to protect their kids, and in today's world, our kids are under attack like never before. Even their gender is being threatened. Today's guests wanted to do her part in helping to protect our daughters from gender confusion and identity indoctrination. Her name, Patti Garibay.
She's the founder and executive director of American Heritage Girls, a national character development organization. Patti goes all the way back with Dr. Dobson to the beginnings of American Heritage Girls. She earned her college education from Ohio State University. Patti served in various capacities as a volunteer at church, school and in scouts. Here's the interesting part. Before starting AHG, American Heritage Girls, Patti volunteered for Girl Scouts of America for over 12 years as a recruiter and troop leader. Patti then founded the faith-based interdenominational alternate to the Girl Scouts, the American Heritage Girls in 1995.
Now, AHG has over 52,000 members globally, with troops in all 50 states, in 15 countries through their Trailblazer program. Patti and her husband Pat have raised four children and they're blessed with, I think, 11 grandchildren. I love that. It's like a football team. Patti, welcome back to Family Talk. Thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Dobson and his wife, Shirley, send their regards.
Patti Garibay: Oh, well, thank you. It is always a pleasure to be with you, Dr. Tim, and of course to be on the show by the Dobson's Ministry. We're blessed by that.
Dr. Tim Clinton: I'm told, Patti, is this right? That you were the very first guest with Dr. Dobson on Family Talk?
Patti Garibay: Yeah, who would've thunk? It's true. It's true. It was a day in my life I will never forget. My husband was with me as well and we were able to do this. And my daughter, Katie, who American Heritage Girls was founded for, was also on that very first recording and it was a wonderful day. It was so different, Dr. Tim, than the studios that Family Talk has now. Back then they were just set up in a broom closet. They were just starting out and it was just such a privilege and an honor and I'll never forget it.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Well, it's amazing what God's been doing and continues to do and through the broadcast. Patti, I want to jump right in. We all know this, that we've got a mental health crisis in our country. The truth is since the pandemic hit, we don't have a crisis, we have an absolute disaster going on and when you look at the research and stats, it's staggering. It's sobering on how it's impacted our kids. You're on the front lines, Patti, every day. Tell us what you're seeing. What are you hearing from moms and dads?
Patti Garibay: That's a great question, because for over 28 years I've been working with kids through American Heritage Girls and prior to that I was a children's pastor and also a Girl Scout leader for three different troops. So kids have been my heartbeat and I cannot believe what I've seen in the last three decades of the transformation, the desperation, the loneliness, the anxiety, the confusion that today's girls and boys are really encountering and it's really unprecedented for my lifetime and I know nothing new is under the sun. Deuteronomy tells us that these kinds of things have happened in the past, but this is just really alarming to see it at such rates.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Patti, the CDC recently released what they called was the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey and they had some very startling findings. They found that nearly three out of five teen girls, 57%, mom and dad turn this up here for a moment, this is important. 57% of our daughters felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, the highest rate in over a decade. And that 30% said they had seriously considered dying by suicide. Patti, what in the world's that all about?
Patti Garibay: That's the desperation. It's heartbreaking. Our girls need to have a sense that they have some power over something and it's not girl power. It's the Holy Spirit's power in the girl. And today's kids do not understand the promises that the Lord has given us. They misunderstand even who they are, much less whose they are, but they need to be able to come back to real relationships. I blame a lot of this on social media. I blame a lot of this on parents not knowing the biblical worldview for their selves, so they cannot transfer that onto their children. I blame a lot of this, just the Satan is having a field day right now, Dr. Tim Clinton, and I think it's really important that we take that remnant back and we help girls pitch their tent in the land of hope and there is hope. Hope is in Jesus. And how can we help them?
We have to be intentional as parents, by the way. We can't just let this thing happen. I know there were times in my parenting where I was just so busy that I just let things happen. And when you do that it becomes not even controlled chaos, it becomes chaos. And so we have to be intentional. And parenting, it's for the long game. We talk about football, it's the long game. It's not something that can be one and done. We have to continually do it. And I'm still doing it today as a grandparent. So we have to be alert and we have to talk about the issues of today and the cultural indicators that are creating these problems within our girls' hearts and souls.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Those who know you, Patti, know that you're a doer. You're going to get out and get something done. Years back, and for our listeners who don't know your story, tell us about American Heritage Girls all over again, how it's evolved through the years and what it's specifically exists to do?
Patti Garibay: Well, American Heritage Girls was not my idea, first of all. This was God's idea. It came about as a result of a problem. And isn't that how so many ministries begin? Is that there's a problem, we try to make changes. And the problem was, for me, using Girl Scouts as a ministry and the Girl Scouts had changed the Girl Scout promise, which is a foundational oath that included the word God and the concept of God. And it had been tried and true for a long, long time, over a century. Juliette Gordon Low founded this on biblical principles. She was a Bible reader. She's the foundress of Girl Scouts USA. But the Girl Scouts had changed. They had really gone into a mission drift of a radical feminist agenda, honestly, in the '70s. And they had people like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem on their boards.
And this resulted in a change in what they were about and also about the curriculum that they were instilling in the hearts and minds of girls. So I had a problem with that and I started to research and I was just a leader, a leader of three troops, but I thought, "How could it be bad? My mom was my leader, it was good for me. This will be good for my daughters and their friends." And it was ironic because back in the day Dr. Dobson had done a minute newscast and he was talking about a sexuality camp in Cincinnati, Ohio. And it alerted my ears because my daughter had just been invited to that very sexuality camp and through something in the mail and that never happened. Girl Scouts never mailed the girls anything. But my daughter was an adolescent girl, they found it important enough to invite her to the sexuality camp.
What I had heard on that radio minute by Dr. Dobson about that camp made me dig in deeper. And when I finally got my hands on the curricula, and that's a whole nother story, Dr. Tim, there was smoke and mirrors and all kinds of mischievous behaviors that were happening on the part of the Girl Scouts. I remember reading that from cover to cover upon leaving that meeting and weeping that night and saying, "How dare they take the innocence of girls away and how dare they make sexuality something that's on a spectrum of behaviors?"
And look at us today, Dr. Tim. We are now on that spectrum of behaviors. We are confused as even what a boy and a girl is, much less deviant sexual behaviors. So this whole thing is really a cultural gig that I felt I needed to respond to. And so I tried to make changes on the Girl Scout level, that was to no avail. And then I felt, "Well, maybe the Lord's calling me to start something." I've been doing this a long time. My background's in education, I know about child development, but this will just be for my daughter to get her through the formative years. Well, here we are 28 years later, my daughter's daughter is an American Heritage Girls. God had a bigger plan, I think, for this Esther moment, for a time such as this.
Dr. Tim Clinton: I love that. Tell us about age group. What are you targeting? And a lot of what you do is you really teach these girls the idea of biblical femininity.
Patti Garibay: Yes.
Dr. Tim Clinton: That's at the heart of what you're doing.
Patti Garibay: It is. Our program is Christ centric and we do it in a fun way. And so we serve girls ages five to 18. So really the gamut of girlhood, think about that. You can join American Heritage Girls, by the way, at any point. There's the entry level, the glide path is simple. But here's the deal, is what we are really trying to teach girls is how to adult in a Christian framework, how to have skills and leadership opportunities, how to set goals, how to have hope. And this is all centric, all cornered around a biblical worldview. So everything that is in the girls' curricula is going to align with your faith tradition. It's going to be attuned to what you're teaching at home. This is not going to contradict. So often we allow our children to be in extracurricular activities that are the exact antithesis of what we have been trying to feed into our children for their entire childhood. We need to be, again, intentional parents and choose those extracurriculars just as importantly as we choose their schooling, your church or anything else.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Well, what a gift to our girls and we celebrate that. You also are not shy to take on some of the issues and challenges and one of those right now is this whole issue on... You put together a guide, "A Raising Godly Girls' Guide to Gender and Identity," something that's in the middle of culture right now. Everybody knows it. Let's just not tuck it over in the corner and ignore it. It's front and center. It's the elephant, literally, in the room. Patti, tell us about what you were trying to accomplish there? Because kids today are confused, they're challenged, they're pushed at every turn. There's like this indoctrination effort that's going on to quote, "Take them over." Patti, what's your take on all of it?
Patti Garibay: Well, boy, does that ever give me fire in my belly. Remember how I just referred to the Girl Scout sex curriculum that was talking about these kinds of things, sexuality being on a spectrum and all these crazy activities they had for these girls. But when this started to really crop its head up, this transgenderism, it became all consuming. The news medias, they were all covering it and the kids themselves, I was getting reports within American Heritage Girls of troops leaders having problems with how to deal with this issue. And so we're like, "We got to confront this thing head on." If the troop leaders are having this problem, we know parents all over the country are having this problem. So how do we deal with it? Well, we go back to the source book, the Bible, that is our life lesson book. And what does it say about boy and girl, male and female?
And we went back to that. We've done a lot of study around it. We've also created this, like you said, "Raising Godly Girls' Guide to Gender and Identity," which helps parents have that discussion that they need to proactively have. I beg your listeners not to wait until your daughter comes to you, be the first because they have already had messaging, guaranteed. Even at the cartoon level, there's messaging. There's a token transgender in every media outlet that we can imagine. And even if we try to protect our kids from all of that, they're still going to hear about it.
So I'd rather my kids hear it from me first, from my church first, than from some other outlet that has already skewed their opinion around it. So the idea is intentionality and a discussion around it. It's an interactive guide for the kids to be able to be participant in it, to do some searches in the Bible, to find out there's an antidote to everything within the Bible. It's very relevant. And so that's important for us to bring that back to that very issue, that although people may put the Bible in a context of ancient history, it is not. Jesus is eternal and His word is as well.
Dr. Tim Clinton: You're listening to Family Talk, a division of the James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Dr. Tim Clinton, co-host here, and our special guest today is Patti Garibay. She's the founder and executive director of American Heritage Girls, a national character development organization that, by the way, your girls need to be involved in. Patti, what's the best place for them to learn more information about you in the ministry?
Patti Garibay: I think visiting our website at americanheritagegirls.org is the easiest way. Or just do a Google search on American Heritage Girls.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Well, we're in May. This is Mental Health Awareness Month. And Patti, you are not afraid to speak to mental health issues. As a matter of fact, you've given a lot of your effort in ministry to girls focusing in on anxiety. Tell us a little bit about how that's drawn your attention. What are you seeing in our girls? I think everyone knows that it's a real concern, a real problem, a real challenge.
Patti Garibay: It really is. And I think there is this sense of hopelessness in today's girls. Anecdotally, I had met a young girl, her name is Elisa, and she was at a Meet the Founder event and she kept allowing younger girls to come and meet me first. And then she waited 'til the very bitter end. She had coal black hair, black fingernails, gauge earrings, she looked part of a depressed young woman. And she had her HG uniform on. And I said, "Elisa, what is it about HG that you like?" And she said, "Well, it saved my life." Now I have never heard this in the 28 years I've been doing this, I've never heard that HG has actually saved a girl's life.
But I said, "Tell me more," with tears in my eyes. And she said, "I was cutting. My parents have recently gone through a divorce and I thought it was my fault." She said, "I felt hopeless. I felt like I was just a bother, that I shouldn't even be on this earth." And she said, "And then a friend invited me to American Heritage Girls." She said, "My adult mentor encouraged me and said that I had a lot of skills and talents and that the Lord had blessed me with spiritual gifts of encouragement." She says, "I feel so discouraged, but I was able to now set some goals and achieve them. I'm able to serve others and influence them in a positive way. I'm able to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem."
I'm like, "Okay, my job is done. I can leave now, for one girl named Elisa that found a hope through American Heritage girls." And that is the cry of today's girl in general. She's not unusual. She's really not. They're feeling hopeless and helpless and they need to be able to understand that God has saved them for a purpose. They have a special purpose in life. And that we don't have to wait till we're adults to discover that purpose. We need to find it now as the girls are growing and adolescents have great things to contribute. Actually, I love their hearts more than anything because it's real and it's not something fake or "How will this help me move up my career ladder?" It's real. And so I think we need to tap into our adolescence and help them with this fear and anxiety. Identify it as yes, it's real, but how can we help you navigate through it? Can we help with friendships? Can we help with goals? Can we help with understanding the Bible and God's promises to you? There's so many ways we can help proactively.
Dr. Tim Clinton: What an amazing ministry. What a gift. Patti, I don't know what you're seeing, but I see this often, that the number one thing that still makes our kids happy, even teens happy, is a great relationship with mom and, or, dad. They want that. Even when it feels like you're hugging a porcupine or something at times and they're taking in what they can from their peer friends and more. Mom and dad, you still matter more than you know and if you'll just be faithful to that end. And by the way, engage them in programs just like American Heritage Girls. You've got resources, a lot of them up there. You and I have talked before about "Raising Godly Girls' Guide to Fear and Anxiety In Uncertain Times." You also have a resource called a "Raising Godly Girls' Guide to Tackling the Eight Stressors That Girls Face Today." Those again are, they're supplements to speak into her life, but also for mom and dad to use them as quote, "conversation starters". Right?
Patti Garibay: Exactly. And we felt called to this. The Lord laid this on our heart. It was our 25th anniversary. We were so excited, going to have a big extravaganza, a big girl convention, and it was 2020 and so it was canceled twice. So we're like, "What are we going to do with all the time that we have?" Troops, we lost 30% of our membership, troops weren't meeting because churches weren't meeting, blah, blah, blah. So we kept our staff up and working. And what we did is we created this Raising Godly Girls sub-brand and Dr. Tim, what that's done is created these eBooks and a radio minute that's across the nation.
So you may have heard of this radio minute where we identify a problem that girls are suffering from. We have a scriptural antidote and then a call to action in the family, all within 60 seconds, which is pretty cool. But what we did is we created this parenting stuff that helps parents, whether you're in American Heritage Girls or not, we thought a call to the nation was necessary. And this was before the transgender thing that has really cropped up. But I believe the Lord was preparing us to be part of the conversation, to have a seat at that table. And so that's what we want to be, is a resource for parents everywhere, particularly those that are raising daughters.
Dr. Tim Clinton: I'm sure you have a lot of challenges. No doubt. Anytime you're doing something righteous, it seems like everything's going to come against you. I was curious. I was thinking about my own daughter, Megan. I love that girl so much and my granddaughters, Olivia and Sophia, I love them so much. I know that girls can be pretty tough on each other. They can be pretty mean. Do you see that? Especially since COVID hit and more, it seems like tension is escalating. We certainly see it all over social media, what's happening in cities and more. But Patti, how do you address that and how do you encourage them really to come together and to be strength for one another, to link arms and to know how important they are together?
Patti Garibay: Amen. Well, the mean girl syndrome, which is basically what that is, is a competition perfectionism or, "I feel less than and so I'm going to find fault in you and that'll make me feel more than." This whole tipping point kind of thing. It's really been a lifelong struggle. This is part of the human condition, I believe. I don't think it just affects girls. I think it affects all humans. However, girls tend to have more of that because there we're so visual and we're very relational at the same time. And so our relationships are often based on how are you helping me be better, rather than just true altruism, which is really what we're called to in the gospels. And so to teach these girls, it's such a dynamic that they've never heard about Jesus's love and how we can model that.
Jesus' leadership, our leadership curricula, which is amazing. It's called Grit With Grace, which is girls rooted in truth with grace. So we don't want those bossy girls out there telling us we're the leaders, but rather how can we lead from a place of humility? How can we be smaller so He can be greater? How can we glorify God through our leadership? And I'll tell you what, the power of the woman, I love what you said about your daughter and the sweetness in your voice and your granddaughters, because they have a special place in God's heart too. They are the influencers. I do believe the hand that rocks a cradle rules the nation.
So how can we bring up women to be the standard of behavior and that will bring the guys along. You know it always does, right? So that's what our goal is, is to raise up these women of integrity. And it starts with girls of integrity and girls of an understanding of what the message of the Bible is and that there is truth. And that confusion and chaos that is in this world does not come from God, it comes from a Satan. And let's avoid that and let's look for the order that's found in the Bible.
Recently, we're having "A Raising Godly Girls' Guide to Biblical Worldview," and that is going to be brand new. We're just announcing it today on this show, Dr. Tim Clinton. It's that we're going to have this, it is up on our website ready for your viewers to download the free E-book on "Raising Godly Girls' Guide to Biblical Worldview."
Dr. Tim Clinton: So they can go again to what website, Patti?
Patti Garibay: Americanheritagegirls.org.
Dr. Tim Clinton: And they can download it free?
Patti Garibay: Yes-
Dr. Tim Clinton: They're on the website.
Patti Garibay: ... it pops right up. You got it.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Wonderful. You can also go to our website, drjamesdobson.org/familytalk and all of Patti Garibay's links are right there on that page. Hey, there's so much more we could be talking about, surely at a lot of conversation around boys comes up, et cetera, you know that. And by the way, boys have their own mental health journey and so much more. There's so many challenges and issues, whole nother program. Trail Life USA, your counterpart, Mark Hancock, a beautiful leader. The heart of God is in him and he's doing an amazing work with our boys. But Patti, hey, as we wrap up today's broadcast, thank you for what you're doing for our daughters, for our girls, and God strengthen your resolve. And I pray that God would expand your borders for such a time as this. On behalf of Dr. Dobson, his wife, Shirley, the entire team at Family Talk, we love you and appreciate what God's doing in and through American Heritage Girls. The website one more time?
Patti Garibay: Americanheritagegirls.org.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Patti, what a delight and what a wonderful conversation today and thank you so much for joining us.
Patti Garibay: And thank you. God bless.
Roger Marsh: Well, what an encouraging message from Patti Garibay here on Family Talk. As the psalmist writes in Psalm 9:10, "Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those You love." Amen. Friend, seeking the Lord in times such as these is really the best we can do. And by the way, to learn more about Patti Garibay, American Heritage Girls, or to revisit any part of this program that you might have missed, visit drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. Also on that page, you will see all the web extras that allow you to go deeper into today's topic and to learn more about our guest as well. That's drjamesdobson.org/familytalk.
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