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Prue Leith: The way I brought my children up would not be acceptable today

The chef and TV star urged women not to feel guilty for the amount of time they spent working.

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Prue Leith said she spent much of her children’s early years working (Ian West/PA)

Prue Leith said she spent much of her children’s early years working (Ian West/PA)

Prue Leith said she spent much of her children’s early years working (Ian West/PA)

Prue Leith has said the way she brought up her children would not be acceptable today.

The Great British Bake Off judge, 80, admitted that she would not class herself as either a very good mother or grandmother.

Leith, the author of numerous cookbooks and founder of Leith’s School of Food and Wine, said she had spent much of her children’s early years working.

However, she urged women not to feel guilty for the amount of time they spent at work.

Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood on Bake Off
Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood on Bake Off (C4/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon/PA)

She told Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast: “I’m not a very good grandma but then I don’t think I was a very good mum either.

“I mean I’m good in the sense that I must have done something right because the children are good and they’re happy and we’re a very close family and it all worked, but I did work a lot.

“I think women, especially in the hard days, they have such guilt complexes about the amount that they work.

“It didn’t occur to me at the time, I didn’t think I’m neglecting them, I just thought: ‘Well I’ve got to do work and they’ve got to go to school.’”

Leith has two children with her late husband, author Rayne Kruger – a biological son called Daniel and an adopted daughter called Li-Da.

Prue Leith, with daughter Li-Da, left, and son Daniel and his wife Emma
Prue Leith, with daughter Li-Da, left, and son Daniel and his wife Emma (Steve Parsons/PA)

She added: “I don’t think the way that I brought them up would be acceptable today and if I had children today, I wouldn’t do what I did then which was pack them off to boarding school at the age of 12.

“And they were weekly boarding before that but they loved it and I remember the reason that we sent them to weekly boarding was because they complained so much about the drive to school.”

Leith explained how she came to meet her Cambodian daughter Li-Da, who was orphaned by the Khmer Rouge and adopted at 16 months.

She said: “When I was young, I just assumed, because all of my generation did, that I’d get married but then what happened was I got really interested in my business and I didn’t want it, you know marriage didn’t come into it.

“Then I fell in love with Ray and until I was 34 or 33, I didn’t care if we were married or not, it was lovely.

“But then my biological clock was ticking and ‘I’ve got to have a baby’ or I’d be too old and then – 35 was the cut off point. Then I desperately wanted a baby but until then I hadn’t been.”

PA Media