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The Not Good Enough Mother

Narrated by: Rosemary Benson
Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins

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Publisher's Summary

A psychologist who evaluates the fitness of parents when their children have been removed from their custody finds herself reassessing her own mothering when her son falls victim to the opioid crisis.

Psychologist and expert witness Dr. Sharon Lamb evaluates parents, particularly in high-stakes cases concerning the termination of parental rights. The conclusions she reaches can mean that some children are returned home from foster homes. Others are freed for adoption. Well-trained, Lamb generally can decide what's in the best interests of the child. But when her son's struggle with opioid addiction comes to light, she starts to doubt her right to make judgments about other mothers. 

As an expert, a professor, and a mother, Lamb gives voice to the near impossible standards demanded by a society prone to blame mothers when anything befalls their children. She describes vividly the plight of individual parents, mothers in particular, struggling with addiction and mental illness and trying to make stable homes for their kids amid the economic and emotional turmoil of their lives - all in the context of the opioid epidemic that has ravaged her home state of Vermont. In her office, during visits with their children, and in the family court, the parents we meet wait anxiously for Lamb's verdict: Have they turned their lives around under child welfare's watchful eye? Do they understand their children's needs? In short, are they good enough? But what is good enough? Lamb turns that question on herself in the midst of her gradual realization of her son's opioid addiction. Amazed at her own denial, feeling powerless to help him, Lamb confronts the heartache she can bring into the lives of others and her power to tear families apart.

©2019 Sharon Lamb (P)2019 Beacon Press

Critic Reviews

“The writing is engaging, and Lamb’s professionalism is evident, but what mostly shines through is her empathy, sympathy, and deep concern for her clients, both children and adults....This honest look at how society judges parents, mothers in particular, deserves a wide audience.” (Booklist, starred review)

“In surefooted prose informed by experienced skepticism and personal humility, psychologist Sharon Lamb guides us through the moral and emotional ambiguities of judging the fitness of other women - and herself - to mother, in a culture a that mobilizes guilt and shame, and an economy that offers little support. The Not Good Enough Mother is both intimate and political, bracingly intelligent and deeply moving.” (Judith Levine, author of Harmful to Minors

“Sharon Lamb’s The Not Good Enough Mother is a chilling and brutally honest account of how mothers, even with the best of intentions, fail their children. Lamb draws deft portraits of parents who love their children but who fail them in responsibility, in accountability, in addiction, in mental illness. One comes away from this book a better parent for having read it.” (Lauren Slater, author of Playing House: Notes of a Reluctant Mother

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