Dr. Meg Meeker the author of Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need. Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician, a mother and has become a leading authority on parenting, teens and children’s health, having appeared on the Today Show, Dateline, and more. Dr. Meg gives us insight into the special relationship between a father and his child, and encourages those who are striving to be good fathers, and those who are making peace with the way they were fathered.
Dr. Meg Meeker: Seeking the Love of A Father – Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 47
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we speak with Dr. Meg Meeker, the author of Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need. Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician, a mother and has become a leading authority on parenting, teens and children’s health, having appeared on the Today Show, Dateline, the Laura Ingraham Show and more. Dr. Meg gives us insight into the special relationship between a father and his child, and encourages those who are striving to be good fathers, and those who are making peace with the way they were fathered.
Dr. Meg Meeker: My name is Meg Meeker. I’m a pediatrician. I live in northern Michigan. I’ve been practicing almost 30 years. I love my job.
I’m a grandmother. I have four young grandkids and four adult children of my own. I learned many years ago that if I we’re going to take good care of kids, I had to take good care of their parents. A lot of my work is directed towards parents; encouraging mothers and fathers. I find a lot of mothers and fathers don’t feel very good about their job they’re doing, so a lot of what I do is write to parents.
I grew up outside of Boston, and if you would have told me as a college student that I was going to live in northern Michigan, I would have said you’re crazy. You know, New-Englanders like New England, particularly the old school New-Englanders. I grew up in a little town called Concord, Mass, and it’s very historic and people took a lot of pride in the history there; Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the old north bridge.
I can remember a point in time when I did decide I wanted to go to medical school. My father was a physician. He was a pathologist. Interestingly, he never told me to go to medical school or pushed me. I would go during the summer with him to his work. I would just do whatever I could around the office, which in a pathology office, there isn’t much. He had a friend who was an orthopedic surgeon who said, “hey, you can come with me and just follow me around. You can go into the operating room if you want.” I just thought that was the best thing in the whole world. So I decided when I was 16, that is what I wanted to do. I became singularly focused on medical school from the time I was 16 on. There was no turning back, so it really was an epiphany.
Refusing To Quit – Making It Through Medical School
My first round of applications to medical school, I was rejected–all of my applications. I really thought, “OK, my life is over, I have no plan B.” My father, at that time, I heard him talking to a friend on the phone. I went back home to live at home, because I had nowhere else to go. I went out for a jog to clear my mind. I came back home and I heard my father talking to someone on the phone in his study, and I stopped and listened. I overheard him say, “oh yeah, my daughter Meg will be going to medical school in the next year or two.” I was stunned. I thought, “what does he know that I don’t know?” When I heard my father’s confidence in me, that I was going to be able to make it, I just can’t tell you how much it changed me. I thought, “wow, if he believes in me, I really am going to go,” and of course, then I did.
Many times during my medical school career, I felt very much like a failure because it’s part of the medical system, at least then in the 80s, was to sort of pound you down to make you pull yourself up again. For somebody like me who is very sensitive, I would get pounded down pretty hard. But I met my husband, and he’s a huge advocate. He helped me. He was a couple of years older and he just refused to let me quit and said, “nope, nope, nope, get back up and go.”
My husband and I were married in medical school and we actually had a child in medical school. I was just one of those crazy people determined to have my family and keep on going, and as I said, I had a very, very supportive husband. When I was going to do my residency, I wanted to go to Boston. He wanted to stay in Ohio, and I filled out my application and I put all my top choices were Boston. I was going to mail the letter, and right before I put my letter in the mailbox, for some odd reason, I believe it was God, I scratched out Mass General Hospital and I put a hospital in Milwaukee and put it in the mailbox and I thought, “what overcame me?” It’s like my hand wasn’t my own when I was writing.
We ended up going to Milwaukee, and within a month or two of living there, we joined a church; Stewart and Jill Briscoe’s church. I remember sitting there listening to them talking, and explaining Scripture and explaining their relationship with God; explaining who God was, which I really hadn’t heard of in New England. I was overcome with a sense that, “wow, you know maybe the work that I have to do is much bigger than me. Maybe it’s not just about what do I want at this point in my life, maybe there’s a greater purpose to my life.”
And really, it was during my first year in Milwaukee, that my life really transformed and I let God take over.
Jesus Calling And Coping With Loss
It’s really like our eyes were opened; his eyes and my eyes at the very same time. When we lived in Milwaukee, that first year, my husband was enthralled with the Lord, and he just really sort of fell in love with Christ Jesus, if I can just say it very plainly. He just decided that his job during that period of time was to stay home and take care of our daughter and support me as I finished my my residency training. That’s huge, because my husband grew up in a family with a full-time stay at home mom; three sisters and no brothers. This was a huge transformation for him. I thought, “wow, you know this God stuff must be real if this husband of mine, who is very stubborn and very driven, is changing his whole life to support and help me.” Of course the more he supported and helped me, the more I was enthralled with the God that He loved. So I began studying scripture and I began to realize it was my work at the hospital was so much bigger than I.
I thought, “wow, you know this God stuff must be real if this husband of mine, who is very stubborn and very driven, is changing his whole life to support and help me.”
Then I started reading Jesus Calling and I loved it. Interestingly, my sister-in-law died a couple of years ago of cancer and she’s my age. During her illness, all during her illness, she read Jesus Calling. It’s really as though during her worst days you know we would text back and forth what Jesus Calling said that day. It felt as though the words on the pages, that are really eternal words, spoke to her that moment of that day. I really saw the power in the encouragement it gave her and gave me too, in sustaining her and her last days of life and giving her the hope that she was marching closer and closer to Him, and that when she died, to take a step over the bridge and there she’d be. It’s meant a lot to me personally and I’ve given a lot of copies out, because I think, even to people who have never read scripture or don’t know who Christ is, it speaks to them and they love that there’s a simplicity and a beauty in it that doesn’t take a biblical scholar to understand and receive it, really.
Narrator: We’ll be right back with more from our interview with Dr. Meg Meeker right after this brief message.
As a special offer to you, the listeners of The Jesus Calling podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service.
Find your favorite Sarah Young titles, including Jesus Calling and Jesus Always in an audiobook version and get it for free by trying audible.com. Check out a small sample of the Jesus Calling audiobook, featured at the end of this podcast. To download an entire free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/JesusCalling. Again, that’s audibletrial.com/JesusCalling for your free, full audiobook. Now, back to our interview with Dr. Meg Meeker.
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
Meg: I wish I could tell you that in prayer God said to me, “write about fathers,” and I heard this voice and I started writing about fathers, but it really didn’t happen that way.
I know I needed to encourage parents.
My father really was a huge support to me, and my husband’s wonderful with our daughters.
I realized that, you know, in our culture, in television, the movies and sitcoms, it really demeans fathers. Then I thought, I realized, “wow, these guys are really hurting.” Then I went and I did research on the effects that fathers have on their kids. I found there’s this enormous disconnect between how necessary fathers are in their children’s lives as far as developing strong characters, self-esteem, doing well in school, and success in life, and how fathers are treated in the culture. So I thought, ”wait a minute, I’ve got to try to do something about this.”
So I wrote “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.”
The interesting thing is, my father was a great man. He would not say he was a great father. He was very shy. He was very introverted, very quiet, but I think he got the big stuff right. That’s what I try to tell fathers; you know, kids will forgive a lot of your mistakes if they know you’re trying and you just get the big things right. There were moments in my life growing up where my father’s influence or something he said changed the course of my life. For instance, when I overheard him telling a friend I was going to be going to medical school and I had just gotten all these rejections. I thought, “you know, this man that I revere so much believes this is going to happen. It will happen.”
The Different Side Of Fatherhood
It really it started with that book and it just grew. Then literally phone calls came to my house, you know, like the phone call from the NFL: “Will you teach our men? Will you help our men?”
Many didn’t have fathers, and they had really no framework of reference for how to be a good dad, or what to say, or what to do, or even a picture of what it looks like to sit down and eat dinner with your kids.
I sat down and after about an hour I said. “you know I really appreciate your interest, I really know you need help, but I’m the wrong person for you. I’m female, I’m middle aged.”
I will tell you, when they start talking about being a dad, or they start talking about their mothers, they can’t stop talking because they come to life.
They said “no, you’re exactly what we need, because many of the men who grew up without fathers don’t relate to fathers. The one person they listen to is their mother. And guess what, you’re about their mothers’ age.” So I said “Oh,” and I got it.
I will tell you that the men I’ve worked with, I have come to really love because there’s a different side. There’s a different side. You know part of them hates being looked at as money machines. They hate being looked at as only brawny men who go out and bang into people and throw footballs. There’s so much more to them. I will tell you, when they start talking about being a dad, or they start talking about their mothers, they can’t stop talking because they come to life. But nobody asks them about anything but football and how much money they make. So I think the fact that I don’t know how the game is played; I don’t care about their role there. It really was very, very refreshing. So many of them are tremendous. Ben Watson, for instance, just had a new book come out and a tremendous guy. David Tyree, who caught the ball on his head for the New York Giants and helped win the Super Bowl against the Patriots. Wonderful, wonderful men who have hearts that are just so soft and open and tender towards the Lord.
I think God has a great sense of humor calling a middle-aged woman into this “pro-father” space, because it’s very peculiar I think. But I think what it is, is that I get children. And so I can pull men into a perspective and a place where they’ve never been taken before, which is, you know seeing themselves from their children’s vantage point and I think that’s maybe why God has chosen me for this job.
Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need
I have a book coming out called “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need.” Most fathers do not feel like their children’s heroes.
I wanted to bring Jesus in there. I wanted to again, show fathers who they are from their children’s perspective. I wanted fathers to see who they are through Christ’s perspective and to see that the big purpose and the big call on their lives to be not just good men, but to be great dads.
I think really the main purpose of “Hero…” it’s sort of painting a very broad picture of who Dads are to their sons, how their sons see them, what their sons want, what their sons need, what daughters want and need.
You have, already today, everything you need to be a great dad, but you need to listen to your heart, you need to listen to your gut, and you need to be courageous enough to parent very differently than your friends are parenting. So, don’t listen to your friends, just parent according to your gut. Keep it simple, and you’ll get it right.
Where God does his best work is in the healing of the child who never got what they wanted from their dad.
What A Child Needs From A Father
Here’s what I would say to every woman and every man in particular who had a bad experience with a father; either abandoned, abused, maligned, put down, whatever. A child is born with needs from their father, and they need intimacy. They need to trust, they need love.
If those needs those fundamental needs aren’t met or aren’t given to them, a child then grows up to hate himself because he had those needs. Now that’s a complicated psychological process, but what ends up happening, is you turn against your self. You end up disliking who you are. Sometimes, it’s very subconscious, and sometimes you don’t even recognize that’s what’s going on.
A child is born with needs from their father, and they need intimacy. They need to trust, they need love.
You live with a sense of self hatred and the self-hatred comes because you had needs. The needs weren’t met. Rather than blaming the person, i.e. “dad” who didn’t meet those needs, because you’re a child and you’re so self-focused, you blame yourself for having the need. So that’s where the self-contempt comes from.
Go back and recognize what you wanted, see what was given in place of that need. Forgive that person that maybe you never even knew or you did know who hurt you. Then, and only then, can you heal enough to turn and face God the Father, who is nothing like that, because you can’t be open to receive the goodness of God until you’ve healed from the pain of a father.
That’s very important for every person to do, because God wants to step into that place. Jesus wants to step into that place.
Narrator: To find out more about Dr. Meg Meeker’s new book “Hero: Being The Strong Father Your Children Need,” please visit MegMeekerMD.com.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling podcast we visit legendary Gospel singer CeCe Winans, who has sold over 12 million records worldwide and won ten Grammy Awards. She is the best-selling female gospel artist of all time, as of 2015. CeCe talks about taking a break from music to start a church with her husband, and how she faced series of answers to God’s call in her life.
CeCe: Lord, I just want to be what you want me to be. If it’s on stage, great, if it’s at my local church making disciples, awesome. The thing that works for me, and the thing that works for everybody, to me, you’ve got to keep your relationship with the Lord Jesus first, so my relationship with Him gives me the wisdom I need, He brings the right people into my life to help me in different areas. So that’s my number one advice to everybody: what is your relationship with Him?
Narrator: Today’s featured passage comes from the July 6th entry of the Jesus Calling audiobook.
“I am your Father-God. listen to Me! Learn what it means to be a child of the everlasting King. Your richest duty is devotion to Me. This duty is such a joyous privilege that it feels like a luxury. You tend to feel guilty about pushing back the boundaries of your life to make space for time alone with Me. The world is waiting to squeeze you into its mold and to crowd out time devoted to Me. The ways of the world have also warped your conscience, which punishes you for doing the very thing that pleases Me most; seeking My Face. Listen to Me above the clamor of voices trying to distract you. Ask My spirit to control your mind, for He and I work in perfect harmony. Be still and attentive in My Presence. You are on holy ground”.
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.