Only a few people in this world call me Mum, and to everyone else I ask,
“Please don’t call me mum.”
I have a few pet hates. They include;
- Hardened weetabix that needs a chisel to remove
- Finding my laundry mottled with disintegrated tissue
- Someone parking so close to my wheelchair adapted car that I can’t get the ramp down
But, there is one gripe that has been in my Top-five annoyances for the last few years and I know I am not alone.
A professional calling me Mum.
Let me paint the picture…
At the start of a meeting everyone introduces themselves and shakes hands (in the good old days!). We have come together to discuss my son’s wheelchair positioning (for example). There is a company advisor, two therapists, a student, me and my son. Myself and the therapists have known each other for over a year. We speak on the phone, write emails, meet occasionally, then fifteen minutes into the appointment the therapist turns to the company advisor and says,
“Mum thinks it would be a good idea if we change the footrest height.”
She knows my name but chooses not to use it. Part of me wants to swing round, look at the door and ask.
“You’ve brought your mother to work? How quaint!”
In reality the most I have had the guts to do is say,
Professionalism has been replaced with paternity.
And it happens in communities, hospitals and schools everywhere. Now, I know professionals aren’t deliberately being mean. They work hard and are trying to do a good job. But at some point, this behaviour became normal.
As someone who has been on the receiving end many times, all I can say is – it’s weird. It just feels wrong. Although this is a minor incident, I think this highlights and heightens an imbalance of power.
All the other people in the room have a role and a name but I am simply ‘Mum’
I am not a partner in this meeting. I’m not on par with the labels or expertise. Yet in reality, I have a greater stake in the outcome of this little gathering than anyone else at the table.
When staff in hospital (who will see me for 10 minutes and never again), use ‘Mum’ as an easy name, I can understand it. But I would prefer to be called ‘Sam’s Mum’ because I’m not just anyone’s.
I have three kids and only they get to call me mum.
Being a mum is one of my greatest roles but I’m specific about who can call me Mum. The rest of you can call me Rachel, Mrs Wright or all sorts of things, if you prefer.
So, here is my plan. For the next few appointments I’m going to wear my new badge with the ‘Don’t call me mum’ logo!
My husband has a badge that says ‘Don’t call me Dad’ because this a parent thing, not a gender thing. If, like me, you are a parent who wants to have a name then you can join the initiative.
Raise awareness, as a parent or professional, shout from the rooftops (or at least Facebook and Twitter) that parents are partners, experts in their children and enjoy being called by their names too. We want to partner with the professionals based on our mutual respect and effective communication.
Parents have many roles, skills, valuable insights, and we have a name.
Are you a parent who wants to join us?
- Share this blog
- Like Don’t call me Mum on Facebook
- Follow Don’t call me Mum on Twitter
- Add the ‘Don’t call me Mum’ twibbon to your profile picture on Facebook or twitter
- Go to the website Don’t call me Mum, read more about our campaign or order your campaign pack (including badges, flyers and Campaign posters) to share with your local community.
On twitter Tweet #dontcallmemum or #dontcallmedad
Are you a therapist who recognises and respects parents as partners?
If you want to show us your support that buy your campaign pack and highlight to your colleagues the heart of the ‘Don’t call me Mum’ initiative.
Go to the Don’t call me Mum webpage, order a campaign pack and get involved.
For more information about the initiative or to get our logo on your website to show support, you can contact us via email@example.com
This post originally appeared on Simple Stuff Works Blog
Maybe if the “don’t call me mum/dad” campagne works then I won’t get called ‘grandad’!
May I congratulate you on your charmed life if this is what you worry about. Do you know that every time the snowflake brigade come up with stuff like this, health professionals have to actually take time to be burdened with the latest imagined ‘offense’ ? Money is spent on ‘education’ to keep the permanently offended happy. Money that could be spent on y’know, healthcare. Pathetic.
Thank you for your comment.
Yes, there are MUCH more important things to worry about – just look at America. As I said in the blog – this is a pet hate (like someone parked up the back of my car so I can’t get my son up the ramp).
I have a son I have watched fight for his life, many times. He isn’t expected to life to adulthood but yes, I still consider that, compared to many, I have a charmed life.
I am a health professional. My husband is a doctor. We, and others, feel that improvements can be made in how parents are spoken to and respected within the care of their children. Most importantly, I think professionals don’t mean anything negative by the way they speak and are keen to make simple changes to their practice for the benefit of all.
Yes, there are much more important things to worry about but that doesn’t mean this isn’t worth changing too.
I’m sorry but I fail to understand why the title MUM is considered as a disrespectful term. It’s one of the most if not THE most respected position of authority when it comes to the well being of a child.
Thanks for commenting Gemma. Using the name ‘Mum’ instead of ‘Sam’s mum’ or ‘Rachel’ is what I find irritating. I hear it used between professionals who use it instead of my name, when they aren’t talking about me to my son. It’s a little thing. It’s a very precious name to me that is saved for people who I parent.
I think the easiest way to change this is to bring it up when it happens. The next time someone says “Mum” just interrupt with, “my name is Rachel
” or whatever you would prefer to be called. If they continue to use Mum instead or show attitude then I’d explain your reasons after the meeting. But, like you’ve said, they probably don’t mean anything negative and unless you point it out when it happens they won’t realize they’re doing it or be able to change. Give the people you trust with your son’s condition the benefit of the doubt. They’re probably open to changing how they address you.
Thanks for commenting Rachel, I agree. This is often how I react. I recognise it is also best to trust those who care for our children because they want to provide good care. I also train professionals about life is like for families like mine and within that we talk about this subject. It’s a small thing that can improve the atmosphere and efficiency of a conversation and professional relationship.
Am I sure why the comments above seem to think this isn’t an important issue? If they can’t use your name something everyone else does everyday then how on earth can you believe hey are listening to your concerns etc? I fail to see how anyone treating anything you have to say in an equal manner would call you mum. In any other circumstances this would be seen as inappropriate so why is it not in this case. I’ve fought for my sons health needs for years and had to learn so much to get him what he needs. I deserve respect the same respect I give those professionals. This isn’t being picky this is asking to be treated with some dignity, enough professionals treat us like crap as it is and when you can simply point something out to someone to stop it then do so. Totally support this and I am not defined by my label as mum. Ironic since my son with autism has NEVER called me mum why the hell should they???