We promote a strange and token notion of fatherhood

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In the wee small hours, when Him Indoors rises for the 50th time this year to attend a crying child, my thoughts turn to the parlous state of family law.

Fathers have no automatic legal rights to their children and a third of British children have no contact with their father after couples separate.

Now my husband has many advantages, from an impressive focus on the art of foot-scratching to an encyclopaedic knowledge of trains, so I have no intention of letting him slip through my fingers. But should I ever become his vengeful ex, it would be grossly unfair for the courts to ignore his investment in our kids.

I can’t imagine having my ankle-biters unceremoniously removed. Yet men are expected to change nappies ad infinitum with no guarantees against said outcome.

Too often divorced dads are left with grim fortnightly trysts in strip-lit fast food restaurants. And the second they attempt to impose discipline, their child can refuse to turn up.

We promote a very strange and token notion of fatherhood in this country. The fathers who speak effusively about their children are the likes of David Beckham, Jamie Oliver and John Simpson, parents who have spent time in football stadiums, TV kitchens or war zones. Where are the role models who have accepted unglamorous demotion in order to provide the stability of being present?

The bias towards women in custody battles does not serve female purposes. Mothers can enjoy more fulfilled lives if their partners are willing to share the nitty gritty of childcare. But this trend is discouraged by our chiefly financial notion of fatherhood.

At 4.30 am the nursery goes quiet and Himself collapses into bed. After a few grunts I hear the rhythm of his snoring.

‘Are you asleep?’ I ask.

There’s an extended gargle and sigh followed by the answer.

‘Anything the matter?’

I proceed to share my edifying musings on the role of fathers. There is silence.

‘Next time you’re lying awake with deep thoughts and the children start to howl…’

‘Yes, my love?’ I answer.

‘Could you go to them?’