Letters: Families in crisis

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Yasmin Alabhai-Brown (Comment, 24 June) is wrong; it is not the adults whose relationships end that are the problem. Rather, it is naive and manipulative adults who assume break-ups are always someone's fault, and that all partnerships should last for life.

What would she have us do, stay in unhappy or token relationships, to preserve the illusion that everything's OK? And does she believe that children would buy the illusion?

I am a separated (not "absent") father to one child, a de facto stepfather- cum-uncle to his younger brother, and what my current long term partner's daughter affectionately describes as a "sort of" dad to a third. All love and are loved by me; my relationship with all of them is closer than many traditional fathers have with their children, and will continue regardless of my relationship with their mothers.

No relationships can be prescribed; in that lies their joy, pain and blessed diversity. This is every bit as true with adult-child relationships as any other. Trying to impose a biologically determined moral framework on any relationship is doomed to failure - look what happens to women and children in states around the world where this is attempted.

If Yasmin Alabhai-Brown wants children to have better relationships with their parents (and other adults), she should stress the importance of teaching parenting skills and social obligations in schools. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, yet precious little training is provided.

Children also need to learn that relationships can end, and that when they do, it's never their fault. Blaming adults for forming less than perfect relationships helps no one.


Croydon, Surrey