Reclaiming mother blame…

Revisiting the mother blame stuff again this weekend. For a mix of personal and academic reasons. On a fairly superficial first trawl (that is, the stuff immediately to hand) I came up with 17 statements explicitly blaming me in various ways for what happened.

I’m trying to work out some way of presenting these words creatively as the words themselves seem to lose meaning. This has involved some fairly absorbing messing around which is quite empowering. Cut and pasting, drawing pictures, stretching and recreating text. It unexpectedly allows a reclaiming of the statements and some power to subvert them. They are no longer the blunt and unthinking (at best) [cruel] things health and social care professionals have said about me (or so many other mothers/parents).

These things can’t be said about families/patients/people without us appropriating the words. And doing what we want with them. Who knows. This may make it less likely that ‘professionals’ thoughtlessly regurgitate them in future.

Revisiting these statements, the horror remains as raw. The pain and rage they cause untempered. I still cannot understand how anyone involved in LB’s death (and most of these 17 statements were made post publication of the Verita review which clearly stated LB’s death was preventable) can possibly think blaming his mum is, in anyway, acceptable. Even if you’d met me (I’ve met three of the people who made the statements so far uncovered) and I was/am the nightmare portrayed, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the health and social non care provided to LB. Even if I was/am a combo of May and Cameron, with a dose of Farage, Trump, Muntz from UP, Gove and Nasty Nick from vintage Big Brother, LB had a right to good and appropriate health and social care. Simple as…

[I can’t  believe I’m actually typing these words but given the persistence of health and social care inequalities, I just despair when I think of how many other people/families must have fallen foul of arrogant, ignorant, judgemental, incompetent, myopic, point scoring, thoughtless professionals with way too much power in their grubby paws.]

I’m left, on first reflections of this mother blame trawl, partly focusing on who said these things. Sloven and Oxfordshire County Council peeps (and I would assume private providers if relevant). But more importantly, those who didn’t say anything in response to them. These statements are not made in a vacuum. They are shared, agreed and circulated, either by email, in reports, letters and so on. The various Freedom of Information and Subject Access Requests that accompanied them revealed no countering, reflection or challenge. This bile is accepted without challenge. No whiff of this:


Mother blame remains live and kicking. I can only think it’s up to us to start reclaiming it.

And for those who should know better but clearly don’t, some baby steps to more humane engagement:

  1. First and foremost, remember that a person has died a preventable death. They have died and they shouldn’t have. [Howl]
  2. Try to imagine (and keep imagining) what this must feel like for those who loved them. [Imagining it happened to someone you love is a very basic step here.]
  3. When you receive any documentation about this person’s death (emails, letters, draft reports, briefings), sitting in meetings when this is discussed, or chatting over the photocopier, keep remembering this is a person. A person who shouldn’t have died [Revisit step 2].
  4. Develop a careful close reading of any health and social care missives about the unexpected or preventable deaths of people in health or social care. Learn to identify/recognise typically defensive, over the top, and cruel blameworthy statements about these deaths and call them out for what they are.
  5. Refuse to be party to the callous, inhumane and brutal annihilation of family concerns.

Basically. Just be human.

9 thoughts on “Reclaiming mother blame…

  1. I can’t really talk about the details of my experience because my family member survived and deserves privacy. But I can say that listening to you and watching the inquest evidence chimed with the mother-blaming that I experienced. I don’t know but I wonder if it is about resisting what might damage the therapeutic narrative whereas family take the long view that goes beyond the short-term therapy. Of course, this doesn’t help for young people whose families can’t/won’t support them but I do wonder about how the therapeutic narrative helps them in the long term.

  2. I wonder what Professor Michael Rutter would say about mother blame, as he was a big voice in rejecting a theory from the 1950s (I think) that mothers who were like ‘refrigerators’ (cold and uncaring) caused their children’s autism? That old theory forgot to explain why the same mothers had other children without autism.
    There’s the much bigger saying that ‘mother knows best’.
    Professionals doing this are offensive, and are only trying to stall parents from being the powerful voices that they are.

  3. whose Mother are they blaming ? their own in my opinion, but you will do, nothing personal.
    If you challenge any aspect of provision and a person is out of their depth/untrained , they round on you.
    I looked out a sympathy card today, handwritten and conveying the message that the ‘ impact was profound and will remain with me throughout my career ‘. The impact of the suffering didn’t stay around for long after I challenged the failures in care. On closer inspection after several years , as a Mother , I am struck by the fearful tone in the notes made by this person. They can’t get a response from a specialist consultant to an urgent fax , they can’t get the hospice to support or even loan a syringe driver over the weekend . Fearful , panicked and unsupported they failed miserably and ‘Mum’ witnessed it all . Mother blame is rife because so many people are hopeless in their jobs , maybe Mum pushed them into being a X ?

  4. Parent blaming has also happened in the past and I suspect it still does.

    I recall several years ago a LA commissioner, at a carers meeting, informing us that it was not always possible to keep their promises on services because parents nowadays expect more than they used to. There it was, straight from the horses mouth, it was actually our fault that he was shit at his job.

  5. Mother blame says more about the person blaming the mother than it can ever say about the mother – or truth! Mother blame is always the first response to any problem or even a non problem that is pure invention on the part of the NHS / LA employee or even the psychopathic, drama queen care worker sent by the profiteering, private provider!

  6. Pingback: The Scales of Justice? | Campaign for Reform At Southern Health

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