Letter: Grandparent crisis

Sir: Recently the daughters of three of my closest friends have each had a first child.

Two were born to teenage mothers with partners (occasionally) who are obsessively jealous and violent. The other was born to a mother in her thirties and what can only be described as a serial father, for this is his sixth child by a number of different women, some of whom he married.

Thirty years ago we campaigned for family planning for all. We thought, in our naivety, that if every child became a wanted child you could in one stroke eliminate child abuse and neglect, illiteracy, poverty, homelessness.... It hasn't exactly worked out like that.

I have no reason to believe that my friends' grandchildren are anything other than wanted. I also know that these particular babies will be protected, cared for and loved by an extended family, especially their grandparents.

But it is chilling to think that the backup a stable grand-parents' home can provide is a resource which is running out. When these babies have their own children where are their grandparents?

How do I congratulate my friends? Every child is a gift, a cause for rejoicing. Yet for too many children the strands in the cradle that is their birthright are snapping.