`I did feel a terrible fear and guilt that I was having a child on my own'
Alison, 47, works for a marketing firm. She lived with Richard, a much younger man, for three years before they separated. They continued seeing each other and, during this time, Alison conceived her son Alexander, now seven.

`It was an accident, but I knew I would not have a termination. There was pressure initially, but that eased off as the pregnancy progressed.

But I had no emotional support from Richard so things were difficult then and the first two or three years afterwards. I was cheesed off, of course, especially as then he had started seeing someone else.

I got no financial support either during this time, partly because I felt I didn't want to ask for it because it was my decision to have Alexander. But Richard didn't offer, either, and it was tough. Our emotions were so raw at this stage. He had always wanted children, but the time was all wrong for him, with his business and that. So he had to adjust.

I did feel a terrible fear and guilt that I was having a child on my own and so I decided that if I could manage it, my child would have a real relationship with his father. That was my main concern. The fact that our relationship did not survive was no reason to wreck what could be between father and son.

I could have treated my son as my possession, but I didn't. I also never wanted to get into the situation where a child is passed over from one parent to another at the doorstep where they are barely talking. That must be distressing for the child. Richard sees Alexander several times in a week; we chose schools together; we spend time together with Alexander. He now pays the school fees and provides for him.

Perhaps I could do this because I knew that Richard was capable of being a really good father. And he is. I don't think it is always right to involve fathers, not those who are really nasty, or morons. Or when one parent feels so deeply hurt and betrayed by the other that this is simply not possible. It is also simpler because there are no other partners or children involved yet.

We do have our patches. I'm not saying it is always easy or fantastic. We have frightful arguments. Sometimes I have to say to Alexander, "I'm not in the mood to have Daddy to dinner at the moment", and he understands. But in spite of all the difficulties, it is working for all of us at the moment and Alexander is flourishing.