'Covid struggles have brought my children closer together'

Colin Brazier's six children have endured a difficult year, but the adversity they've faced during Covid
Colin Brazier's six children have endured a difficult year, but the adversity they've faced during Covid

Colin Brazier's children have endured a difficult year during lockdown, but the struggles they've overcome together has brought them closer as a family

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Here’s an obvious one. A child who suffers a loss is apt to cope better if they are not alone. There are international studies which show kids whose parents divorce or die ride-out the storm better with siblings.

I saw this when my own children lost their mother to cancer. They rallied around one other – a testament to the strength of siblinghood. But I now realise they also provide protection against another kind of loss – of freedom.

Covid has brought my kids closer together. A few weeks ago I noticed just how strong the bonds forged by lockdown had become. My second eldest daughter was sitting sixth-form exams. Her two younger sisters brought her breakfast in bed before each and every exam. Unbidden. Neither she, nor I, had asked for this to be done. The two girls had decided it was the right and supportive thing to do.

Would they have done this without Covid? That’s the great unknowable. But they tell me that coronavirus has acted as an extra-strong adhesive for sisterhood. Of course, you can have too much of a good thing.

My middle daughters have developed an obsessive attachment to ‘anime’ – Japanese animated cartoons. They share in-jokes constantly. Quote favourite characters. Assume knowledge and interest that others don’t have. It is the common language of their psychological bubble. But like all safe spaces, it can be exclusive and excluding. They feel comfortable behind the walls of their domestic force field.

And as Covid rules relaxed, and they met friends outside, I had to remind them of their manners. Don’t make in-jokes. Don’t assume your narrow interests are widely enjoyed. Don’t mention anime! In the grand scheme of things though, the misery of Covid confinement has been much diluted by having siblings.

As a single-father with six kids I’m hyper-sensitive to the way my children interact. My parenting sometimes feels like a full-time surveillance job; on the look-out for signs of someone struggling. I can honestly say that lockdown has helped knit together the frayed fabric of our home life.

They have lost a mother but gained an astonishing degree of mutual interdependence. I expect it to last. As I’ve said to them often; a sibling is for life, not just for childhood.

  • GB News presenter Colin Brazier is the author of ‘Sticking Up for Siblings’ (Civitas).