By a child-care authority and mother of an only child, this useful, knowledgeable book provides sound advice on creating an enriching environment that's stimulating and enjoyable for only children and their parents alike.
Forget about Leave It to Beaver, argues Newman (Little Things Mean a Lot) in this revised edition. These days, who needs siblings? They cost more money, demand more time and clutter up the house. One child may be the perfect balance for career types who want a family, or for older parents unwilling or unable to go through another pregnancy. Newman first lays out and debunks myths about the sad lives of only children: "onlies" or "singletons" are not shy, aggressive, spoiled or maladjusted. In the book's most trying section, she presents research and testimonies from parents of only children and from "adult onlies," which are helpful but occasionally sound somewhat scripted. She often seems defensive, and sometimes attacks families with multiple children noting, for example, that having four children is no longer "socially acceptable," or that only children see therapists more frequently simply because their parents are more attuned to their emotions. Yet discussing a case of sibling rivalry, she somewhat smugly recounts that the older child had to see a therapist because of aggression. This selectivity grates, especially later when she addresses exactly those issues that she previously dubbed myths e.g., the spoiled child, or "little adult syndrome." Nonetheless, she expertly discusses the finer points of raising an only child, with tips for encouraging sharing, making sure your child isn't running the household and guarding against a "state-of-the-art Child" that would help any parent in our affluent, child-centered times. Though she is generally too biased to help parents who are equivocating about family size, Newman's appealing, no-nonsense delivery and solid, reassuring advice will behoove those who already know that they will have only one child. (On-sale Aug. 14)