Dr. Meg Meeker

Good but too short interview with Dr. Meg Meeker.

Meg Meeker, M.D. » Today’s Interview With American Catholic Radio: http://www.megmeekermd.com/2013/03/interview-american-catholic-radio/#.UVCqlB4QA5U.twitter

Dr. Meg Meeker’s unique and powerful perspective is rich and varied, but one big idea that can change the world of many families is this:

Cover of "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughter...

Cover via Amazon

Your child is not the center of the family.

Who is? Parents? No.

God is the center of the home.

And recovering that center is a big part of what Dr. Meeker calls people to. As a family doctor, however, her focus of writing began when she continually saw the effects of teen girls who had been involved sexually and it led her to write with a great passion against the cultural norm of sexualizing young girls and what we can do about it.

I read her book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and it was part of the redemption of my dad-hood during some very tough years of being a dad to two teenaged girls. They are still teens (19, 16) and the huge difference her book made (and one other by Eugene H. Peterson, Like Dew Your Youth) revived my sleeping, frustrated dad self from a guy who didn’t really know how to interact well with my pre-teen then early teen daughters to one who I think is a good father for them because Dr. Meeker strongly urged me to not give up, to be the strong dad they need, and keep pointing them to the Father of Fathers.

The Vanity and Laziness of Busy People

This book changed the way I think about being a dad. It hooked me first with the title that I thought was pithy and cheesy, but I realized it referred to the time spent reading the book, that it’s a quick 60-minute read that would change your child’s life.

Well, perhaps it has changed my childrens’ lives–that is a more difficult thing for me to say, but I can say it changed my life and the way I think about being a dad. I read this book nearly every year since my Mom gave it to me nearly two decades ago when I first became a dad. The insights are not groundshakingly new, but as one wise person said, “We don’t need to be instructed as much as we need to be reminded.” And this is a reminder that no one ever had written on their tombstone, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

General William R. Looney III, Air Education a...

Image via Wikipedia

Like Coach Tony Dungy, this book encourages men to get off their butts and get their work done efficiently and quickly, not to postpone and procrastinate work then make excuses at the end of the day that we had so much work, honey, that I’m just going to have to stay late today. When the fact for many men is that they went on a leisurely lunch, wasted time on the internet checking ESPN, let others waste their time, and didn’t take charge of their day.

Pastor Eugene Peterson and time management guru David Allen agree that people who do not manage their time well do this out of laziness and lack of vision for what they are doing. So they let others “tell” them what to do by checking email endlessly for some fire to put out or way to take their time rather than getting busy on the initiatives that move an organization forward or simply getting the job done or tasks a supervisor has already asked you to do.

I’ll close with this searing quote from Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor, who repudiates the idea of “the busy pastor” and even titles the chapter this quote is drawn from as “The Unbusy Pastor:

The one piece of mail certain to go unread into my wastebasket is the letter addressed to the “busy pastor.” Not that the phrase doesn’t describe me at times, but I refuse to give my attention to someone who encourages what is worst in me.

I’m not arguing the accuracy of the adjective; I am, though, contesting the way it’s used to flatter and express sympathy.

“The poor man,” we say. “He’s so devoted to his flock; the work is endless, and he sacrifices himself so unstintingly.” But the word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.

Hilary of Tours diagnosed our pastoral busyness as irreligiosa soicitudo pro Deo, a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.

I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble.

I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself—and to all who will notice—that I am important. If I go into a doctor’s office and find there’s no one waiting, and I see through a half-open door the doctor reading a book, I wonder if he’s any good. A good doctor will have people lined up waiting to see him; a good doctor will not have time to read a book. Although I grumble about waiting my turn in a busy doctor’s office, I am also impressed with his importance.

Such experiences affect me. I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed.

I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself. The pastor is a shadow figure in these people’s minds, a marginal person vaguely connected with matters of God and good will. Anything remotely religious or somehow well-intentioned can be properly assigned to the pastor.

My Teen, The Alien

Giger's Alien, as portrayed by Bolaji Badejo i...

From the 1979 film, Alien

Eugene Peterson says that God gives us the gift of Adolescents just at the right time, for most of us in middle age:

And then God’s gift: in the rather awkward packaging of the adolescent God brings into our lives a challenge to grow, testing our love, chastening our hope, pushing our faith to the edge of the abyss.

Stop right there! Yes, yes, pushing our faith to the edge of the abyss. So how in the world is that a gift?

What parent of teenagers hasn’t wondered, “Who has snatched my child into their saucer and replaced her with a alien in a human suit who doesn’t know how to act like the human I thought I was raising?”

A gift of an alien in the house? Well, there’s a humor blog specifically for moms experiencing this–it’s dedicated to this experience of having a teenage-alien in the house. It’s called “My Teen, The Alien” and written by two moms, Lynn Armitage and Maria Bailey. Here’s a quote from their greeting page:

Do you ever feel like someone came into your home overnight, snatched the joyful child you gave birth to and raised effortlessly (for the most part) for about 14 years, and then left this unrecognizable creature in her place? She’s moody, sassy and standoffish one minute, then free-spirited, loving and affectionate the next? Lynn Armitage and Maria Bailey started this blog to wrap sympathetic arms around all you mothers of teenagers who are wondering how the heck you’re going to survive today, let alone the next four to five schizophrenic years.

But don’t let my tangent on aliens cause you to miss something very important that Peterson is saying. I truly believe God has given us people going through an incredible transformative experience right before our eyes. The biggest surprise for me is that I’m growing up, too. Peterson says, and I agree, that the most significant growing up anyone does is growing up in Christ. We continue to grow into the full measure of the stature of Christ all through our lives. We should not squander, he says, this opportunity God has given us to grow in Christ along with our teens.

I’ll close this post with a sledgehammer of Peterson’s that may just break you wide open if you are struggling parent of a teenager (or two or three):

My purpose is to block any approach that reduces adolescence to a problem to be solved and insist that it is an experience to be entered into by the middle-aged as well as by the young as a means for growing up. But there is this difference: what the young are forced to go through by virtue of their biology, the middle-aged willingly embrace by virtue of their faith (or willingly refuse in their unbelief). And the “growing up” of parents is not to a mark on a measuring rod but to the “stature of the fulness of Christ.”

I liked this book on parenting

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly
Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today’s Families
Michelle Anthony. David C. Cook, $14.99 paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-4347-6447-8
Parenting books can be preachy—readers often feel like the children of the erstwhile parent turned author. This one is different. The Ph.D. mother-author’s conversational style is more narrative than didactic as she describes her “Aha!” moments, when she moved from attempting to control her children’s behavior to putting them into environments where they can know God and be changed by him. This is not a how-to parenting manual but a guide for developing as a spiritually minded parent who asks, “Who did God create my child to be?” The author’s mix of competence and vulnerability will be attractive to many readers: “It frustrated me that some punk kid down the street had more credibility than I did.” Her writing is vivid, terse, and revealing—a story of a boy who grew up without a father to become a great father himself is the heart of a chapter on love and respect. The book speaks to the journey that all parents must learn to accept: to hear God’s voice and change along with their children. (June)

Txt: When are you coming home?

Tonight is the first real “waiting up” night in my parenting career. Ashley recently got her license, is driving and is coming home from a concert with her friend.

So I get to experience what my parents went through when I said, flippantly, “I’ll be home when I get there.” Of course this was said in jest but there were no cell phones to check in with, for parents to call or TXT, “When are you coming home?”

It doesn’t feel as worrisome to me right now as it does annoying. I want to go to bed but can’t. That’s sleep deprivation and classifies as mild torture.

My prayer for the evening is not simply that my daughter come home safely but that what she is learning by independence will form her as a great and responsible adult. If you count your 16-year-old’s age in days, that’s about 5,840 days of chances we as parents have had to teach responsibility in our children by the time they drive.

For parents of teens who are trying to learn Facebook, enjoy today’s Zits cartoon.