‘Mother knows best’ – a quote from a few different places. Tangled, for example, the animated take on Rapunzel where it would appear Mother didn’t know best or was acting out of fear from her own view of the world and her own trauma.
Another definition on this phrase says, ‘An assertion that a mother instinctually knows the right course of action in any given situation’.
As a Mum I know that’s not always the case. I don’t always know what to do for the best for my children and certainly if I do have an idea, it doesn’t mean I can always act on that instinct.
The reason I’m thinking about this today is for several reasons. Firstly, I have just ended a full-time job to focus on BraveHeart again, but also to have the time to help my young adult children to make the steps they need to take in their lives. At 19, 20 and 22 years of age they are all stuck, to different degrees, and still need my help. Today I have spent hours at universal credit meetings, waiting on hold to get through to the Doctors, PIP assessments and talks with psychologists. It all takes time and, our children, even though they are classed as adults, they very much need my help.
The professionals we must work with often find it hard to understand our children’s challenges. Our children can look, from the outside, as young adults who can manage the levels of understanding needed – but they often cannot. Even our least damaged from his past finds it very hard to understand the processes involved in things like universal credit and job searching.
The second reason this phrase ‘Mother knows best’ came to my mind, whilst thinking about this blog today, was that I’ve just finished a novel that talked about generational trauma and how what our parents experience can pass onto us. I know that the cycles of trauma often repeat, but to understand how and why this works would take more than these few words. It is interesting though to consider how the things that affect us, like trauma (distress unresolved) can, not just impact us, but those around us.
As I think of my own parents, I know I’ve picked up attitudes, perspectives, and approaches from them that have helped me, and sometimes hindered me. Fortunately, they were great parents who had the capacity to love us and meet our needs in a good enough fashion. I know that some of the things they experienced from their parents impacted them too, and we tend to either end up doing the same or, making a conscious or unconscious decision to act in the opposite way.
From what we know for our children and their early experiences with their birth parents, that cycle of trauma seems apparent. Trying to break that cycle is what adoption is all about. It’s trying to enable young people as they grow to have the capacity to love, function well in life, and to be all they can be.
The final reason this phrase is in my mind is to do with partnership with professionals in getting the best support for our children. We (parents) are sometimes seen as ‘controlling’ or ‘picky, neurotic’ parents who are just making a fuss for no good reason. I have experienced this myself but also heard it many times from other parents working with schools, mental health services and the medical profession in general. Not just adoptive parents, but any parent trying to advocate for their child can come across this challenge.
It is very frustrating, to say the least. We DO know best about our children. We may not know best about diagnosis, education, or medical issues. It should be a partnership. We should be seen as a resource to help professionals to understand our children more fully and to be able to support and enable our children’s recovery.
This is not always the case, of course. We have had many good relationships with school staff and psychologists. When this has happened, it has been amazing and really helped our children to thrive.
So, if you are a parent or a professional reading this, then please be encouraged to listen to each other and work together when you can. Our children need both and we need each other.
I’d like to change the phrase to ‘Mother (parents) might know best in particular areas but also need the help of specialists too’. Let’s work together.