My children are childfree and that’s fine by me | Letters

As a mother of two adult boys, both of whom, together with their partners, have opted to be childfree, I am often interrogated as to why my children have taken the decision not to have kids (“What is it about us dinks (that’s dual income, no kids) that so many people dislike?”).

My younger, now aged 38, knew from an early age that he did not want to bring children into the world and – only half-jokingly – requested a vasectomy for his 18th birthday! My husband and I have always respected his choice and our only “intervention” was to suggest that he should always explain his position to any serious partner.

Our older son, now 40, has made the same choice. We have not asked why, as we figure he and his partner would tell us, should they wish to do so, and asking about such choices seems intrusive and potentially judgmental. Our role as “grandparents” is therefore limited to cat-sitting for their households and we are very content with that.
Victoria Lubbock
London E5

Having read Kathryn Bromwich’s piece, I would like to offer some words of reassurance, with an undercurrent of mild irritation. As a childfree woman of some considerable years, and married, I do not accept that I, or similar women, must lie between the “childless (sad, hag-like) or childfree (bullish, probably delusional)”. I feel really quite normal.
Helen Atha
Baildon, West Yorkshire

The one-state solution

It is hard to disagree with anything in Simon Tisdall’s article other than his conclusion (“Isolated abroad, torn apart at home, Israel must face the future it dreads: a Palestinian state”). Even though a two-state solution would be anathema to Benjamin Netanyahu and the majority of voters who support his ethically challenged government, I’m not sure it’s viable. I am of Jewish parentage and the Holocaust remains a burning sore in my family’s history, but I find it difficult to justify any longer the right of a “Jewish state” to exist while defying with apparent impunity the international laws that apply to every other national state.

The abhorrent acts of the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces in Palestine demand a seismic shift in the international approach to the Israel-Palestine “problem”. We should adopt the South African solution – a single state, one person, one vote – and a government that recognises the will of the majority and the rights of the minority.
Hugo Heppell

The power of ‘we’

I have never understood macro-economics. I can’t get past the fact that it tells me money is a commodity when I know it’s a means of exchange. I’ve therefore developed a vision of “we” economics based on the values I believe most of us share – universalism, benevolence, equality, compassion. So thank you, Will Hutton, for your brilliant article (“The UK is trapped in a cycle of political, social and financial turmoil. But there is a way out…”). A vision based on values is essential to any project, but it can be no more than a jumping-off point. Hutton has articulated a way out of this neoliberal nightmare that even I can understand.
Lyn A Dade
Twickenham, London

Schools in peril

I read with interest your article on the poor state of school buildings (“Record number of UK schools refused funding for repairs”). I am a national executive member of the NASUWT teachers’ union and a serving teacher. I see and hear stories daily of the perilous state of schools, particularly in the south-west. Many academy trusts there are reporting large deficits, and are having to make key staff redundant despite chronic teacher shortages.

In NASUWT’s 2023 survey of over a quarter of a million teachers, it found that 89% of teachers were worried about their finances and were cutting back on expenditures such as food and heating. Sadly, it is not uncommon for teachers to rely on food banks.

My hope is that school leaders, the government and unions can come together to find solutions. My fear is that in a deeply partisan political environment and with competing priorities, education will not get the attention it so urgently needs.
Beverley Alderson
Knowle, Budleigh Salterton, Devon

It’s a dog’s life

As a retired vet, I agree with Martha Gill about our disastrous (for the dogs) canine love affair (“Cute, cuddly and often crippled: look where our love of dogs has taken us”). In recent decades, the terrible inbreeding and conformational distortion have become a crime against nature. The Kennel Club’s campaign in this area disguises its essentially Victorian approach of licensed inbreeding and genetic depletion while it carries on with lucrative business as usual.

The obsessive, often controlling, nature of the human-animal bond reflects the lack of feeling for seeing the dog as a canine with canine needs and behaviours, often misinterpreted by anthropomorphism and then put on social media to amplify the disconnect and seduce others.

Owning a dog used to be a way to learn empathy with others, human and animal, and a stimulus to learning to love nature. Instead, it often seems like a slap in the face of poor abused mother nature.
Tim Browning
Jackfield, Shropshire

The NHS can’t do it all

Our main political parties and Isabel Hardman swerve the issue on whether the NHS is sustainable (“A Labour government will have five years to fix the NHS or face the unthinkable”). We need a serious all-party and public discussion about what we can afford to treat.

Life expectancy has increased by 15 years since 1946 and, when Nye Bevan’s vision became reality, treatment of infertility, obesity, tattoo removal, orthodontics and prolonging the lives of those with terminal illness and those well past their three score years and 10 were not even thought about. The NHS is brilliantly capable of many things. Whether it should do them all should be up for public agreement.
Paul Binge
Croydon, London

Before Bey came Ray

Can we put Queen Bey in context? I’ll admit that Ed Helmore is not alone (“Why Beyoncé is kicking down the doors of country music”). The broadcast media have been just as bad. But, how can anybody write about her new album without referencing Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music? While achieving critical acclaim, it caused a storm because a black R&B artist had dared to make a country record. Released at the time of the emerging civil rights movement, it has to be seen as a seminal predecessor to Beyoncé’s offering.
Pete Goodrum


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.