Cross Rhythms website editor Heather Bellamy is a regular contributor for the local Sentinel newspaper's weekly faith column, Yours Faithfully. Each week a different leader from the local faith communities write the column. Check out what Heather has been saying to the fine people of North Staffordshire.

What value do we place on the role of fathers in the UK? Do we recognise what a Dad is for? Do we create role models, laws and a society in general that supports Dads in the life of their children?

Recent research carried out by law firm Mishcon de Reya has shown that more than one in three children never see their father again after their parents split up and nearly one in ten is so traumatised by the separation that they have considered suicide.

A 45 year old friend of mine's natural father was a stranger to him until December last year, when they met for the first time. At one point in his childhood his mother, weighed down with her own struggles told him he was dead. My friend, now a father of 6, says of his own experience, 'all of us fathers are imperfect works in progress, who can hurt others out of our own unhealed hurts.'

Author John Eldredge agrees with this, he believes that "a boy derives his identity, his masculinity and the answers to his deepest questions about himself from his father. It is a double-edged sword. What was created by God to be a good, powerful and beautiful thing has become for many men a sort of deathblow. A verdict pronounced over their life. For the deepest wound a man carries is his father wound."

We don't only need Dads to protect and provide for the family, but we also need them to be available emotionally, to encourage, affirm and speak positive, life shaping words into us.

Yet our nation doesn't seem to catch on that Dads might be important. In April new regulations came into force to allow anyone, regardless of their relationship to the child or their sex, to be named as the second parent on the birth certificate of children born by IVF. The head of the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, Iain Duncan Smith, said the new law was in danger of "airbrushing" out fathers.

Nothing can replace the value of the family and certainly not the State. Just this week Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister issued a full and unreserved apology to Australia's forgotten children. "We are sorry" Mr Rudd told the victims. "Sorry for the tragedy - the absolute tragedy - of childhoods lost. Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care."

Thousands of years ago, the prophet Isaiah had some strong words for the governing bodies of the day, which, with recent MP's expenses scandals, ring with some truth today: "Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless".

For the protection of children, I don't believe we need more State control, as seen in recent laws in the compulsory sex education for children or the idea of interviewing home schooled children without parents being present. We need laws, role models and a society which recognises the importance of the role of the father. Fathers For Justice put it best when they say: 'a father is for life, not just conception.' CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.