Dr. Meg Meeker: ‘We must fight loneliness fiercely!’

https://readthespirit.com/explore/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2013/03/wpid-0328_Dr_Meg_meeker_10_Habits_of_Happy_Mothers_cover.jpgIf you are a parent and your pledge this spring (or this Lent if you’re Christian) is to jump-start your spiritual life and your relationships—you won’t find better advice than Dr. Meg Meeker’s wise books for Moms and Dads:

THIS WEEK, we welcome Dr. Meg Meeker for our Wednesday author interview. Don’t miss it! Sure, Meg is a best-selling author and you’ve seen her as a guest on network TV talk shows. But, she’s not a “celebrity Mom.” She’s like millions of other American parents. She’s a Mom in mid-sized Midwest town, active in her community and congregation. Her common-sense advice draws on her many years in medical practice with children and adolescents. She also draws on her deep faith, although she writes for a broad audience—so whatever your religious background, you’ll feel at home.

TODAY, we’re sharing just a few paragraphs from her book about one of the most important habits for healthy Moms: Friendship. We’ve selected a few lines from this section to illustrate the tone and wisdom in her book, because ReadTheSpirit also has identified friendship as a major lifeline in healthy communities.

EXCERPT FROM DR. MEG MEEKER’S
‘10 HABITS OF HAPPY MOTHERS’

We labor intensely during the years when our children are young, and we think that we will have time for fun, occasional lunches with women friends, or even trips with friends after the kids leave. The truth is, when something needs to be cut out in the crunch of daily demands, friends are the first to go. Sometimes friendship seems expendable, unnecessary. So we delay friendships and put women off, all the while believing that we will catch up later.

The problem is, most of us don’t. There is no catch-up time. Life gets even more demanding as we age. We have parents to care for and bills to pay. Work shifts gears and we move in different directions. Marriages become strained, faces wrinkle, and body parts begin to move southward. Life presents a whole new set of imminent challenges, which need our attention more, we think, than friends do.

Let us not be so fooled. We need other women if we are to work more efficiently, worry less, and stay healthier. Find me a mother who doesn’t harbor a silent fear of being all alone one day and there you’ll find a woman who doesn’t need more friends. But she just isn’t out there. Why?

Mothers are by nature relational creatures. We thrive on loving and being loved, talking and listening, seeing and being seen. Some of us have our relational needs met through our families. Others try through work, still others through romantic relationships and marriage. And these are extremely important, but they don’t fully satisfy our relational needs because the others in the relationship are too dissimilar from us. Husbands can’t be everything to us and certainly our children shouldn’t be. Coworkers may be able to double as confidants, but the nature of work adds competition and strain, which can damage good friendships.

Some of us are lonely, especially when our kids are little, because we don’t have time for friends. We want them and sometimes physically ache to spend time with friends, but nap times, car pools, or job schedules preclude that. Other times, particularly if loneliness sets in over a long time, lack of friendship prompts us to ponder deeper questions about ourselves.

https://readthespirit.com/explore/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2013/03/wpid-0328_Mother_Teresa_smiling.jpgLoneliness gouges a woman’s heart because inherent in loneliness is a subconscious feeling that we deserve to be alone. A mother who feels lonely believes on some level that she is unlikable, even unlovable. She is too inept, stupid, disorganized, or messed up to be with. My purpose in exaggerating here is to verbalize some of the severe thoughts that women silently have but would never dare verbalize. When she feels this way, she retreats from other women and finds herself even lonelier. Stay away from the tennis crowd, because they have money. Don’t go to the book club, because you don’t have anything worthwhile to add. Avoid the playgroup, because those mothers stay at home with their kids and are better mothers. And on and on the voices go in our heads. Loneliness begets loneliness and pretty soon we sink into a deeper belief that life is probably better lived by ourselves in our own muddy mix of frustration, disorganization, or compulsions. With all of the pain Mother Teresa witnessed during her life, she counted loneliness as the worst. She said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”

COME BACK WEDNESDAY to meet Dr. Meg Meeker in our weekly in-depth interview. You won’t want to miss hearing from this wise doctor, woman of faith—and parent.

REMEMBER, you can order either of her books from Amazon—at a discount:

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(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.)

 

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