LETTER: The costly burden of motherhood has its benefits, too

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From Ms Clodagh Wilkinson

Sir: Being the mother of three professional daughters now in their thirties (and one son also in his thirties), only one of whom has yet had children, I read Mary Braid's article ("The declining appeal of motherhood", 11 April) with much interest, and I find her analysis sound.

But there is a side to this matter that seems to be widely overlooked. When I had my four, I did so in the context of having come from an unhappy and disrupted home myself and being a daily witness, as a juvenile court magistrate, of the paramount importance of bringing up children in confidence and security. It never crossed my mind, then or now, that this was other than a very good use of my time and energy. I am saddened to see how little recognition is given to the sheer richness and value of being a parent.

It may be only one way to live a full and fruitful life, and I would always argue for full freedom of choice for any woman, but it also brings a later (and then unlooked for) benefit - now semi-retired, my husband and I get a great deal of interest and fun from seeing how our young get on. We are in close touch with them all. The "child-free" professionals of today are risking a very lonely old age.

Yours sincerely,

CLODAGH WILKINSON

London, W11

11 April

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