Writing in The Mirror, Miriam, 74, says she has 'always been keen on dads' (good to hear) and that they are 'crucial' to the 'healthy all-round development of a child' 'particularly' boys, BUT she claims, there is now a 'new generation' of women who CHOOSE to be single mums and EXCLUDE dads from their child's lives.
Dr Stoppard writes: 'New research shows that a growing number of mums simply don't want dad around and make the decision to go it alone almost as soon as they discover they're pregnant.
'To have a child without a father around has even become fashionable among the professional middle class. They can afford to rely on nannies for childcare.
'But they should be aware that they do so at the expense of their children's welfare.'
She goes on to say there are 'very few positive effects on the child from a father's absence, they're only harmful'. Miriam's marriage to playwright Tom Stoppard crumbled after he began an affair with the actress Felicity Kendall.
'The truth of the matter,' she states, is that the 'presence of a dad, particularly one who plays with his kids, reads stories, sings songs, kicks a ball about and takes a real interest in his child, will make a huge contribution to the intellectual, social and moral development of his youngster.'
And if that wasn't making every single mum reading her piece wince with self hated and guilt, she continues:
'Research has shown that the stronger the bond between a child and his father, the better the child will do. This is particularly true if the father feels involved and proud and makes a point of giving quality one on one time.'
Basically, according to Stoppard, in order to do good, a child needs to have mum and dad around; otherwise, they will struggle with their own relationships, learning, and behaviour.
'The absence of a father is linked to aggressive traits, anti-social behaviour and low self-esteem,' she continues, clearly on a roll.
Now, interestingly, there is no actual figure cited on these 'growing numbers of mums' who simply don't want a dad around, or those 'professional middle class' women who pop out babies and hand them over to nannies and childcare.
No one would generally argue that a secure and loving family unit is what is needed for a child to thrive and grow in - but why can that not be a single parent household? Would Stoppard make the same assumptions about the children of gay couples, or families where the mother has been widowed?
And, despite Stoppard's claims that there are these legions of mums who 'decide' they don't want the dad around as soon as they discover they are pregnant - can it ever really be as simple as that?
How many single mums - from pregnancy onwards, or once the children are older - would honestly, hand on heart say, they would 'rather' be in that situation? Yes, you can have a rubbish relationship you'd rather not be in, but most single mums - and I write as one - do not CHOOSE to be that way. Circumstance - and - dare we say it - the dads' impossible behaviour dictates that we are. Something Miriam should consider, perhaps.
What do you think?
Do you agree with Miriam Stoppard?
Or do you think single mums are an easy target for criticism?
More:Advice And Health
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