Older women 'have time to make children feel important'

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HELENA MORRIS, 72, with six children of her own, six adopted children, 40 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, yesterday gave her support to older parents.

'I don't think that older women in this country are appreciated enough,' said Mrs Morris, of Wick, Hereford and Worcester. 'What most people don't understand is that many grandparents are wholly responsible for bringing up some children.

'Economic circumstances force too many young mothers to go to work.

'Who do they leave their children with? Their grandparents, elderly nursery school attendants, middle- aged foster parents.

'This 59-year-old woman with the twins, she has obviously given the matter a lot of thought. She has the money to get a home-help and a nanny. She has the money to give them a good education. Most importantly, she has the time to make the children feel important. Young people don't have the time to do that. Or the inclination. Very few realise that time and love and attention are the most precious gifts you can give to a child.

'Some old people behave like old people. They have silly, old-fashioned views on discipline. Some may resent the younger generation's fixation on video games. They resent the time that children spend in front of television.

'But older women have wonderful ideas about games. Some schools have started employing grandmothers to teach kids how to play in the playground. These women teach children how to use their imagination. They show them old-fashioned games. They stop the children becoming old before their time.

'I've done 45 years of fostering other people's children. I've fostered five long- term and countless children short term. I've discovered that social services use your services as an older woman when it suits them.

'I think that the only consideration when deciding whether a woman should be allowed to be given fertility treatment should be health. Age does not come into it. The people who are responsible for accepting her application should be carefully selected too. They should be from a wide range of backgrounds.'