In 1969, Sir Roy Meadow published a paper in which he described the ‘captive mother’ as one who, admitted with her child, would be stuck in a hospital ward with a child with whom she would not normally spend much of her day. He argued that school-aged children would normally spend most of their time outside the home, under the influence of people other than their parents. A busy mother, whose job as housewife and carer of other children was jeopardised by having to stay away from the home, was caused great inconvenience and trouble, and it was unrealistic and put too much unnecessary pressure on the mother (and the family) to insist that she stay with the child. While mothers’ roles have changed, the ‘captive mother’ still resonates in relation to admission of children, and in particular in relation to family-centred care. It is time to rethink family-centred care.