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The Seven Common Sins of Parenting An Only Child: A Guide for Parents and Families

ISBN: 978-0-7879-7484-8
256 pages
July 2004, Jossey-Bass
The Seven Common Sins of Parenting An Only Child: A Guide for Parents and Families (0787974846) cover image


As the parent of an only child, are you frustrated because you find yourself  overindulging and overcompensating? Do you treat your child like an adult, overpraise, or overprotect him? Have you expected perfection from your child yet failed to make rules and implement them consistently? If you are not a perfect parent of an only child, you are not alone. Based on the real-life experiences of Carolyn White—editor of Only Child, parent, and educator—and hundreds of interviews with only children and parents of only children, The Seven Common Sins of Parenting an Only Child celebrates the special rewards and opportunities of the single-child family and offers a practical (and often humorous) guide for overcoming the most common errors parents can make when rearing an only child.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Kirsten Smith

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

1. Overindulgence 11

Material Overindulgence

Emotional Overindulgence

How Parents Can Avoid Overindulging Their Only Child


2. Overprotection 35

Why Only Children Are Often Overprotected

Learning to Let Go

Building Confidence

How Parents Can Avoid Overprotecting Their Only Child


3. Failure to Discipline 61

The Importance of Limits

Building Better Discipline

Defining Discipline

Making Discipline Work with a Young Only Child

Making Discipline Work with a Preadolescent Only Child

Making Discipline Work with an Adolescent Only Child

How Parents Can Avoid Discipline Anxiety


4. Overcompensation 93

Types of Guilt and Overcompensation

What Parents Can Do About Guilt and Overcompensation

How Parents Can Avoid Overcompensation


5. Seeking Perfection 113

How Only-Child Parents Can Apply Pressure

Consequences of Perfectionism

How Parents Can Avoid Destructive Perfectionism


6. Treating Your Child like an Adult 135

How Parents Can Prevent Childhood

Consequences of Adultifying an Only Child

How Parents Can Avoid Adultifying Their Only Child


7. Overpraising 159

Praising an Only Child Too Much

Making Up for Lost Time

Common Ways to Overpraise

Consequences of Overpraising an Only Child

Benefits of Appropriate Praise

How Parents Can Avoid Overpraising Their Only Child


Epilogue 183

Notes 185

Resources 187

About the Author 189

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Author Information

Carolyn White is editor in chief of Only Child magazine, which has been featured in Time, Newsweek International, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Los Angeles Times, and on CNN national and international news and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
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“Offers sound and practical advice in areas potentially worrisome and problematic for parents of only children.”--Susan Newman, author, Parenting an Only Child: The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only

“A clear and helpful guide to parenting the only child. Carolyn White knows whereof she speaks.”--Carl Pickhardt, author, The Everything Parent’s Guide to Positive Discipline

“As an only child, now raising an only child, I am grateful for the insightful and unique perspective this book offers the reader.”--Ira Wohl, psychotherapist, filmmaker, and winner of an Academy Awardâ for Best Feature Documentary for Best Boy

“A down-to-earth description of the unique dilemmas facing parents of only children. . . . gives only children a voice for their experience.”--Nina Asher, clinical psychologist, child development specialist

“This charming, compassionate guide to raising only children not only grants absolution to parents who have committed one or more or the Seven Sins but also gives practical strategies that offer salvation for the future.”--Nora Malone, head of school, Village School, Pacific Palisades, California

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