LETTER : Fathers' long hours the real risk to family

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Sir: While I agree with many of the points raised by Polly Toynbee in her response to the Panorama documentary on working mothers, I feel the programme did highlight the importance of ongoing parental support for school-age children.

Few would disagree with the strong evidence on the importance of pre- school nursery experience for young children, but it is much harder to determine the right approach as children become older.

As a part-time working mother, I always thought I would seek full-time work when our children started school. Yet now they are nearly nine and seven, I am increasingly conscious that I need to be around just as much to "talk about homework, what has gone on in the day" (Professor Margaret O'Brien).

I have always enjoyed working and must confess to some envy of successful career-orientated friends. But I now realise that getting the balance right for our family is more than just juggling career and pre-school- age children - it is clearly going to be going on for many years yet!

PHILIPPA CHAPMAN

Evershot, Dorset

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