Letter: Mothering: a full-time job

Sir: As Oliver James points out (Britain on the couch, 19 May) , whether our nature (genetic inheritance) or our early nurture is the more important determinant of how we turn out, is still subject to full investigation. He rightly emphasises the importance of this research because "many clinicians believe early infantile neglect is an important cause of mental illness in adulthood".

In the absence of this vital evidence, it seems to me extraordinary that the Government is prepared to spend vast sums of taxpayers' money on encouraging mothers not to bring up their young children but to hand them over to childcare agencies. I would use the funds to provide substantial tax benefits to mothers who care for their children up to the age of five, based on the precautionary principle that society does not need more emotionally damaged and disturbed children, teenagers and adults.

I find it difficult to understand why women feel impelled to have structured, ladder-climbing careers like men. I have enjoyed three "successful" careers - the most fully rewarding of which was motherhood.

Dr ANNE-CAROLE CHAMIER

Ardross, Ross and Cromarty

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