Enough! I can't stand it! For years, yea centuries, mothers have taken it in the neck for the ills of society. Now the commandant of the Marine Corps {"Top Marine Sees U.S. Losing Moral Fiber: Working Mothers a Factor, Gen. Kelley Says," June 26} blames working mothers for the decline of morality in this country.

Mothers have been blamed for the homosexuality of their sons, for the promiscuity of their daughters, for damaged psyches because of early potty training, and now this.

Working mothers are hardly a new phenomenon. My husband, the product of a 1930s working mother and working father, is very moral. Let's stop blaming mothers for everything that goes wrong in our society. Point instead in other directions: to the decline of the extended family, the lack of voluntary censorship in TV programming, widespread corruption and mismanagement in government circles, deviant ideas advanced by our movies, or the "neutral" value system required by our teachers.

The shoulders of the mothers of this country may be broad, but they don't deserve the burden that Gen. Kelley wants to put on them. CATHERINE DeLANO McLean

Did Richard Nixon's mother work outside the home? Did Ollie North's, or the mothers of the Marines who traded secrets in Moscow? Is it likely those people ever attended "faceless" day-care centers, perhaps during World War II? Most likely, those women stayed home with their children. If those women did stay home, what then caused these individuals' aberrant behavior? Perhaps it was their sex? Most are Marines; did the Marine Corps cause them to commit immoral acts?

Those, of course, are illogical assumptions. The general's generalization is equally illogical. Gen. P. X. Kelley has drawn an illogical conclusion with insufficient data. DENISE M. PALESCH Germantown

Gen. Kelley does not understand that a significant percentage of mothers are not in the work force by choice. Numerous recent studies have shown that the standard of living in the United States would have been on the decline if not for the added income women have provided to their families. Other studies have shown that young families of today must spend a significantly higher percentage of their incomes to provide for food, clothing and shelter. Has American business responded to the needs of its employees by offering such programs as job sharing, part-time employment or on-site child care? To a large extent, it has not.

As for the "nameless, faceless child care center" that Gen. Kelley refers to, who could expect much better from employees who are paid at a level below that for most service jobs and in many cases (private day care) below the minimum wage? If we were committed to the moral upbringing of the next generation, we would be showing it by allocating public funds to provide salaries and training to assist child-care workers in their very demanding jobs.

Instead of wasting time on an "institute of moral values," as Gen. Kelley suggests, we should put our energies toward economic and social policies that address these very critical problems affecting the next generation. ELLEN E. REYNOLDS Herndon