Why the best gift for your child is a brother or sister

Original thinkers are hard to come by. If you doubt that, visit a diploma mill. You’ll see right off that credentials don’t confer character, creativity or common sense. Academic hubris conflates knowledge with wisdom. Such folks are a dime a dozen.

Sui generis

Then there is Colin Brazier: sui generis, in a class by himself. Original thinker, doer, family advocate nonpareil. Not tethered to a diploma mill, the debilitating ‘publish or perish’ treadmill doesn’t affect him. Yet publish he does.

A practising Catholic and widowed father of six, Mr Brazier forged an illustrious career as a globe-trotting journalist in blue-chip media, including Sky News, GB News and LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation). Along the way, he won an International Emmy Award and BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) nomination. Such recognition is no mean feat. 

But Mr Brazier is not defined by career success. Thankfully, he is much more — a pronatalist, or “procreativist” force of nature. Rather than ceaselessly carping about low fertility, tight money and the plight of the family, he focuses on solutions. In so doing, he highlights what so many have overlooked: social justice and the value of siblings. 

Mr Brazier learned about this from his own family, so in 2013, he wrote a superb book, Sticking Up for Siblings: Who's Deciding the Size of Britain's Families? It is an engaging account of his life as a father of six and surveys the sea change in academic research on the family. It appeared at the very time when think tanks and diploma mills were tumbling to the realisation that siblings are a good thing. Siblings are good for each other, for the family, for society: a “powerful vector for social adjustment, moral capital, emotional intelligence, and even exam performance.” Wow.

The best gift

If you’re not up for a full-length book, see Mr Brazier’s latest, a brilliant paper entitled Playing Alone? Why the Best Gift You Could Give Your Child is a Brother or Sister. Groundbreaking. Mr. Brazier doubles down on the themes in his earlier book:

[W]e as a culture seem to forget the value of siblings and the unique bond siblings share. As the average family size shrinks, children have fewer — or no — siblings. Siblings enjoy a special relationship. They provide children with ready playmates, confidants, and friends. Studies have shown that children with siblings have stronger interpersonal skills through their interactions with each other and are more empathetic, caring, and able to make and keep friends. Siblings are also there for each other during moments of profound loss and tragedy. When a parent dies, siblings are able to comfort and support each other. Simply put, siblings help children develop resilience and form healthy relationships.

But didn’t we already know that? Good to see the policy wonks finally figuring it out. Common sense is a hard-to-come-by commodity. Mr Brazier dishes it up in plain English.


Playing Alone? cites four causes of falling fertility, emphasised below. There is a surplus of specious reasoning behind each that deters couples from having children.

Economic uncertainty: When raising children is subordinated to elder support, you have a dysfunctional society. Media scaremongering says children are too expensive. Yes, they are expensive, but not prohibitively so. Second and third children need not be as “expensive” as the first. Hand-me-downs and siblings pitching in save money — akin to a ‘volume discount.’ Anybody remember the old Myrna Loy movie Cheaper By the Dozen?

Credentialism, widespread in the Global North, is when families break the bank on education so children can be “competitive” in high-pressure money-mad societies. Extinguishing family life for a status job is as short-sighted as it gets.

Popular culture shapes public perception. When celebrities and influencers have multiple children, that’s positive messaging for siblings. But Hollywood and Big Media persistently portray dysfunction, depravity and social pathology as the norm. Apparently, films featuring wholesome family life don’t rate. As civilisation declines, people embrace the decadence.

The changing role of religion speaks for itself. Absent moral and social consensus, which religious faith imparts, moral relativism rules. This obliterates standards, bringing anomie and atomisation. Children are subordinated to matters temporal and material. 


Mr Brazier’s paper is chock-full of findings about siblings:

  • Men with female siblings have more empathy and respect for women.
  • There is a correlation between declining siblingship and increased depression, bullying and “social fragility”.
  • Sibling rivalry facilitates emotional development, maturity and social skills.
  • Lack of siblings is “significantly associated with obesity”.
  • Siblings are more active, crawling and walking earlier than only children.
  • Siblings have lower rates of allergies and disease.

Surprising? Not at all. But if you’re sceptical, there are pages of notes referencing study after study. Knock yourself out.


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Siblings mitigate selfishness, mammon-worship and obnoxious personality traits. The only child tends to be a family fixation, increasing the odds of narcissism and neurotic helicopter parents. Little wonder there is a bumper crop of snowflakes, PC princesses and ultra-hip metrosexuals around. Spoiled brats?


Mr Brazier is for family choice. Here’s why:

In the UK, 40 percent of married couples have only children. The figure is 45 percent in Canada and 49 percent in the European Union. Many couples would choose to have more children, but social and economic forces thwart family choice. US adults would choose, on average, 2.7 children. The US fertility rate is 1.7. In the UK, the corresponding desire is 2.32 children. Fertility is below 1.9.

For decades, the only choice that mattered to progressive opinion was the choice not to have children. For women to… embrace the emancipation represented by birth control. But, in societies where those “freedoms” are now endemic, the truly unrealised choice is the choice to have, not to avoid having, a child.

Social Justice

Mr Brazier views pronatalism as a progressive cause. He poses critical questions about civilisational survival in the face of falling fertility and avid environmentalism. Doesn’t one home with several children have a smaller carbon footprint than multiple homes with only (single) children? Should democracies allocate families with children additional votes to ensure fair representation of the younger generation?

[C]an it be equitable that a mother of four faces the same pensionable age as a childless man or woman, even though the former has created future potential taxpayers and care workers?

If pro-natalism is to fulfil its potential as a progressive cause, then the relationship between family size and “social justice” must be shown to matter. Can it be fair that so many women want children they are unable to have? Can it be fair that so much wealth is concentrated in a dwindling number of hands? Can it be fair that one generation is doing so well at the expense of another?

Today, these are counter-cultural concerns. By mid-century, they will be part and parcel of public discourse. The world is changing. Children need a break.

Far too often, the pro-family cause comes across as reactionary. Mr Brazier turns that around, animating it as a progressive, transgressive movement.

How often do we see someone from the upper ranks of the fourth estate unabashedly promoting family values? A down-to-earth type amongst the chattering class! As a father of six and a gentleman of faith, Mr Brazier leads through example.

The good guys are gaining ground.

Louis T. March has a background in government, business, and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author, and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Image: Pexels


Showing 10 reactions

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  • mrscracker
    Good for you Marty, I’ve been blessed with 8 children also. And 16 grandchildren, so far.
    We have to remind ourselves in all charity that people’s comments & reactions to those of us who’ve been blessed with more children may say more about them & their perceptions than about reality. You & I are living the reality. Thanks, be.
  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2023-12-02 02:26:41 +1100
    Actually Paul, it does make money and food appear out of thin air! It’s called making due with less. And as for " Parents of many biological children tend to be narcissistic and self-absorbed by nature," well, I don’t know about that, you’d have to cite a study. I only know that I have eight kids which makes me the smartest guy in the room (best looking too).
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2023-12-01 12:29:32 +1100
    Marty, having lots of siblings won’t magically make money or food appear out of thin air.

    And when parents have many children, they don’t have the time to give every child the love and attention they deserve. It’s neglectful and abusive to have large families.

    If they hire nannies to look after children, that just proves my point: large families are luxuries for rich families.

    Parents who have many biological children tend to be narcissistic and self-absorbed by nature. If they truly loved children, they would adopt.
  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2023-12-01 12:26:41 +1100
    Paul you don’t know enough big families! Ask any parent which kid they’d give back to God for a few Shekels. Paul, dear sir, money does not equal happiness!
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2023-12-01 08:33:41 +1100
    Marty, you can’t cite a study because it just isn’t true. Large families aren’t happier. They tend to struggle financially.


    Now that’s real common sense.
  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2023-12-01 02:24:37 +1100
    Louis, great article. I especially love “Academic hubris conflates knowledge with wisdom.” Luckily, people are turning to common sense to combat academic wokeness. For example, with a few rare exceptions, people from large families tend to be very happy and well adjusted. No doubt someone reading this comment will want me to site a study. I can’t site a study, all I can tell you is that it’s common sense, which seems to be in short supply these days.
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Bunyan,
    It’s true that there are close to 400k US children in foster care but most of those children are not up for adoption. Foster care attempts to reunite families after children have been removed for their safety. Parents who have children placed in foster care do not automatically lose their parental rights. Sadly, these days drugs are increasingly making home environments risky for children. In the case of fentanyl exposure, even deadly.
  • mrscracker
    Amen. Thank you for this.
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2023-11-27 10:41:34 +1100
    Louis would have a conniption fit if parents decided to adopt a sibling instead of having biological children.

    Even though there are half a million children in the US foster system. Hmmm.
  • Louis T. March
    published this page in The Latest 2023-11-27 08:52:27 +1100