Letter: Working mothers sometimes have no choice

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The assumption in Emma Cook's article, "In search of the British housewife" (Real Life, 5 May), that women with children can choose either to be working mothers or full-time mothers made me angry.

Maybe women whose husbands can afford to pay for "polished pine" kitchens, or whose husbands are partners in law firms, can choose. But in today's Britain, where redundancy and business failure are rife and temporary employment contracts becoming the norm, how many women can feel sure that their partner will be able to put food on the table and keep a roof over the family's head for the two decades needed to bring up a couple of kids? Many women like myself, lucky enough to have partners who earn more than they do, feel it is their responsibility to keep working after they have had children in order to remain employable, because they may have to become the breadwinner.

It is rarely the case that women with children choose to work because they selfishly want to have "big houses and lots of money". Is it selfish to want to share with your overworked and stressed-out husband some of the enormous burden of financially supporting a family? Is it selfish to try to ensure that your children don't have to face having their world turned upside-down when Daddy loses his job?

I represent just one of the sections of the population who will have been disturbed by this article. What about the housewives who don't choose that role - women whose partners don't get paid much and whose families would greatly benefit from any extra they could earn if they could only afford childcare? Women who live in houses they didn't choose, with kitchens they didn't choose? I doubt they regard being a housewife as a freedom.

H Bradshaw