A Q&A with Dr. Meg Meeker, Author of The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers Q: Your book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters received very positive critical acclaim and was a national bestseller. Why did you decide to shift your focus to mothers? A:
I decided to write on mothers for two reasons. First, after I saw the overwhelmingly positive response to the encouragement I gave fathers in Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
, I realized that there is a huge paucity of encouragement out there not just for fathers, but for mothers too. Second, over the past 25 years, I have witnessed a shift in the level of stress that all mothers feel. I believe (and research supports this) that mothers are more stressed today than they have ever been. I wanted to drill down and find the sources of the stress and offer solutions to mothers in a positive, encouraging way. I also learned one extremely important lesson very early on as a pediatrician: if I really want to keep kids emotionally and physically happy, the best thing I can do for them is help their mothers. Once she's happy, I didn't need to worry about the kids.) Q: This new book discusses ten essential habits that mothers should abide by to reclaim the passion, purpose and sanity in their lives. How did you come up with these specific habits--were any of them based on your own personal experience as a mother? A:
I comprised a list of "habits" for mothers after I identified the key stressors in mothers' lives. For instance, I found that money, feeling overwhelmed with complicated schedules, and fear that they weren't parenting well enough were some key stressors. These habits counter those key stresses. Since there isn't much research available on mothers' attitudes toward fear or competitiveness, for instance, much of my advice comes from years of listening intently to the mothers I see in my practice. Q: Why is solitude so important to mothers these days. A:
Solitude is extremely important for several reasons. First, as mothers, we are continually bombarded with another person's needs and demands. In order to stay sane, we need a reprieve from these. Also, we need solitude so that we can spend reflective time on deeper, important issues such as: what do we want from our lives, what is our purpose and what do we really want for our kids? Finally, solitude teaches us to learn to enjoy our own company. This cannot be understated because every mother needs to learn to like herself and like being with herself. Only solitude affords this. Q: Whether you are a single mother or in a happy relationship, you assert that it is so important for women to form friendships with other women. Why? A:
Mothers need other women friends because one of our primary needs is to be in deep relationship with a few close people. Our kids cannot serve this need and our husbands can only do so to a certain extent. We mothers need women friends because women think like we do, they stick with us when others leave us and they love us in ways that many husbands, family members or children can't. Q: There are a lot of advice books for parents on the market. What makes your approach to parenting and motherhood different? A:
My approach to parenting has always been to start where you are and move forward. Many parents ruminate on their mistakes and this prohibits them from becoming better parents and from enjoying parenting more. Mothers, in particular, beat themselves up so much for past mistakes and I always encourage mothers to look forward, not back. This book, is the only
book I have ever seen that is written for mothers, not to be better parents, but to learn how to enjoy parenting once again. And I know
that any mother can enjoy her role as a mother more!
About the Author
Meg Meeker, M.D., is the author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and Boys Should Be Boys. She has been a physician practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine, working with children and their parents, for twenty-five years. Dr. Meeker is the mother of four children, and lives with her husband in northern Michigan.
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