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Psychologist report recommending against two 'mummies'

32 replies

Lizette · 27/09/2009 23:01


I'm hoping that someone will be able to point me in the direction of some resources / provide advice.

I am the non-biological mother of a gorgeous 17 mth old little girl. Since the breakdown of our CP, things with my ex haven't been easy, especially re contact, however I have PR and I've been able to get a contact order in place after going to court.

My ex does not want me to be part of our daughter's life and has offered me money to walk away, which I am obviously not willing to do.

I have always been referred to as 'mummy' and my ex as 'Mamma'. My ex has said that she does not want me to be called 'mummy' and has produced a psychologists report stating that our daughter will be made to feel 'significantly different from her peers' when she becomes aware that her peers do not have two mummies and has advised against both parents being referred to as mummy/mamma.

This seems like a ridiculously outdated opinion - I would have thought that it would be more confusing and unsettling for the child to change the name by which I am referred to? Especially given that I am no longer living with her, which must be unsettling her enough.

I understand the psychologist who produced the report may actually be a family friend of my ex and staunchly Catholic, so I do intend on getting a second opinion.

Has anybody else encountered anything along these lines / or aware of any research to concur or indeed contradict this advice?

Thanks x

OP posts:
edam · 27/09/2009 23:03

Lizette, don't have any personal experience or particular knowledge, but that sounds outrageous!

Could one of the campaigning groups like Stonewall help, do you think?

Bigbadmomma · 27/09/2009 23:06

That is very sad.No advice I am afraid but didnt want your post to go unanswered.The whole thing sounds really silly,as long as your dc has 2 loving parents I don't see an issue in what they call you,even though your relationship has sadly ended.Hopefully you will get some better advice from those with more knowledge but just wanting to send support xx

Lizette · 27/09/2009 23:06

Thanks, I absolutely agree. I'll try them tomorrow and see if they can offer advice / point me in the direction of some resources.

OP posts:
edam · 27/09/2009 23:15

Other idea that occurs to me is the Equalities Commission - not sure they could actually help in this kind of case, but might be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.

Your ex sounds like a flaming hypocrite, btw. Clearly didn't think it was damaging for your baby to have two Mummies when you were actually together.

edam · 27/09/2009 23:16

Oh, if you end up in mediation or going through the courts, I would definitely bring up your ex offering you money to walk away, btw!

Lizette · 28/09/2009 08:39

Thanks all for your supportive messages. Will try stonewall etc, failing that will make an appointment myself.

First mediation session this week though Weve mainly been communicating via her solicitor (she has public funding, I don't) so can't imagine it will work for us unfortunately.

OP posts:
ilovemydogandmrobama · 28/09/2009 08:50

Seems to me that she was fine with being called 'mummy' until you split up, so it's one of those bitter mud slinging issues that come up post break up.

Dismiss her ridiculous point by saying it was agreed by you both and you are keeping to the status quo, whereas she is the one changing the rules.

LeninGrad · 28/09/2009 08:58

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LeninGrad · 28/09/2009 09:01

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Tocky · 28/09/2009 09:09

Natalie Gamble is the lawyer you're thinking of, I think Leningrad. She is very helpful and happy to give a bit of free advice initially.

Sorry to hear of this situation Lizette, it does sound very difficult.

LeninGrad · 28/09/2009 09:12

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scottishmummy · 28/09/2009 09:45

ok,so query the Ax is the psychologist independent professional or compromised by being a friend?is the psychologist registered

in general one tries to maintain the consistency of approach, and if establised terms of familiariaty are in place keep them. attachment theories and good enough parenting would advocate consistenty (as much as one can in a split up) and affirmation that both mummies love her very much. ideally you two should bicker behind the scenes etc not in front of your dd

certainly social circumstances are looked at, ability to accomodate and watch the girl etc. but ideologically of ciurse she can have 2 mums as she has from outset

but consider your own psychologist if reqd

good luck

secretme2 · 28/09/2009 18:37

Im so sorry this is happening, it must be so hard for you!...and its definately one of those 'power' moments that youre being hit with... second opinion definately. Have a look on GB for a gay friendly psychologist.

All the best


hester · 28/09/2009 19:09

Hi Lizette, I was so sorry to read your post. It makes me more than I can say when lesbian co-parents use these dirty homophobic tactics against each other. Please get good advice as soon as you can. I would recommend the solicitor Gill Butler at Burton Woods. Posters have already suggested Susan Golombok: she is head of the family research centre at Cambridge University, and her latest book (that summarises all the research in the area) is called 'Parenting: what really counts?' (A really good read for every parent, by the way.)

Best of luck; let us know how you get on.

LeninGrad · 28/09/2009 19:34

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kayjayel · 28/09/2009 19:51

You can also query the psychologist - either through BPS (British Psychological Society) and HPC (Health Professions Council). If psych has done report but has a relationship with the family then this doesn't feel ethical. You can make a complaint through these bodies, and this is fairly serious - can be struck off.

Also you may want to check the psychologist's qualifications as to whether they have the right experience/quals to do reports - some people do reports who don't really have the right to.

Also if they have produced an opinion which is not backed up by evidence (e.g. Golombok, or just not being able to produce evidence about the claims about 'difference') you could complain about them not keeping up to date with modern psychology and therefore not being up to date with their Continuing Professional Development.

It sounds absolutely awful for you. I hope you manage to get through it.

Solo2 · 28/09/2009 21:32

I think there's LOADS of research now that shows that it's not the type of family that matters but other things like love, consistencey, stability, financial stability etc. I'd also recommend Golombok and isn't there a book by the USA writer, Peggy Drexler (might have spelled that wrong) about good outcomes for children of gay/ lesbian parents and single mothers by choice. Definitely get a second psychologist report. Surely the thing that could most harm your child is to have you excluded at this point in her life. Good luck!

pregnantpeppa · 28/09/2009 21:34

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Lizette · 29/09/2009 13:36

Thanks again to all for your advice and support. I have contacted Susan Golombok and will also follow up on the other resources / recommendations. I am based in London and although I have a good solicitor, I'm considering instructing someone more specialist.

The psychologist report was provided on a letterhead of a chartered psychologist/psychotherapist.

Just to clarify, our daughter does call me mummy, though I'm concerned that my ex may have tried to confuse her by referring to herself as 'mummy' too, rather than 'mamma' as she has always been, I can only assume as a means to stop our daughter associating me with 'mummy' which she will be hearing at nursery now. I haven't heard our daughter refer to my ex as 'mummy' or 'mamma' recently, though I haven't really seen much of them together of late.

This whole situation is a complete nightmare for me personally and this particular issue is just the tip of the iceberg. I am having to battle with the nursery to give me any information about our daughter and am having to resort to flashing my PR certificate like some kind of warant card to even be taken seriously.

Aside from anything else, I'm just incredibly worried about how all this is impacting our daughter and what the long term effect will be.

OP posts:
BroodyChook · 29/09/2009 13:43

Gawd, this sounds horrendous for you Lizette. Have to agree with PP that your ex is a complete hypocrite. Is PR parental responsibility? Does it mean that you can keep a legal claim on your daughter? (Don't feel you have to answer if it's none of my business)

controlfreakythecontrolfreak · 29/09/2009 13:48

lizette. am family lawyer. cat me if you want a reccomendation for solicitor specialising in your type of situation... (are you in london?).

scottishmummy · 29/09/2009 15:32

find out if report was written in psychotherapy capacity or psychologist capacity.

check if author is BPS registered you can do this online

clarify was there any conflict of this person a friend and social acquaintence

what specialism does the author practice it developmental psychology

generally consistency,attachment, approbation and good enough (bowlby)parenting are considedered to be must maintain that bond and attachment

did your ex offer you money in writing eg email etc if so print and keep.certainly do raise such tactics

finally the tavistock and portman nhs clinic london may be able to help you.they will have list of private practitioners

again good luck

pregnantpeppa · 29/09/2009 21:03

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scottishmummy · 29/09/2009 22:24

some vg points pp,yes who instructed the report and for what purpose

ib · 29/09/2009 22:32

Lizette, haven't read the whole thread so sorry if I'm repeating others, particularly if I'm saying it worse!

I'm a bit hazy on details/names, as this is just from a few conversations with my mother (a psychologist and psychotherapist). She said there is a considerable amount of writing in psychology based on evidence that it is important for children to have two parents involved in their lives.

There has been a fair bit of research and the evidence indicates that the gender of the parents, or any other details of their status/living arrangements/whatever, is not very important at all - what matters is that there should be two parents the child can turn to in case of need, and that they both have an active involvement in the child's life.

I'll ask her more when I next talk to her (she lives in a very different time zone so not very soon) but just thought I'd mention it in case you can find some stuff on the internet about that research, which might lead you to a more sympathetic practicioner.

Really sorry you are going through this and good on you for standing up for your daughter.

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