TODAY

TODAY   |  June 11, 2013

Author: Being an only child is ‘wonderful’

Journalist Lauren Sandler, an only child herself, has so far chosen to raise her daughter without siblings. She argues for the advantages of only childhood, which she researched for her new book, “One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> with. how many children should you have? an ad in this weekend's new york times is one of the most e-mailed stories this morning. written by lauren sandler an only child herself and mother of one. it explores the stereo types of raising siblingless kids. we'll talk to her in a moment. but first her story.

>> i have a five-year-old daughter. she's a lot of fun. she's my only child . at least for now. we're really happy the three of us. i mean, i can imagine wanting to have another child . i love babies and i know she would be an incredible older sibling but the three of us have a very special relationship . we're very close. i really loved my only childhood. i got to have my parent's attention without them having to divide it too much. they were engaged with me. i don't recall wishing i had a sibling when i was a kid. when i was an adolescent i sometimes wanted a teammate and now that i'm older and i think about confronting my parents aging alone. that's a little bit of a stress. my mother's feeling was that in order to be a really good mother she had to be a really happy person and for her, these were choices that made sense to her and i think that as parents and especially mothers, we lose sight of our own happiness so easily and it's something that i'm really trying to protect not just for myself but also for my whole family. honestly the only way you can make those choices is to know yourself and know your kid and to listen to your heart .

>> and lauren sandler is with us now. her new book is called one and only. the freedom of having an only child and the joy of being one. lauren , dpoorng, it's good to see you.

>> good morning.

>> this is such an interesting topic. the first question i have is do you think there's still that stigma about being an only child or having just one child ?

>> totally. it's like the only stereo type that survived political correctness and what's interest as good how erroneous it is. there are so many studies, hundreds of them done over decades that shows that only children aren't that different than anyone else.

>> the wrap always was maybe they're lonely and some said they're more self-absorbed, the theory being they don't have to compete with their siblings.

>> we don't have to. only children have a primary relationship with themselves so that solitude can be very strengthening.

>> one of the things i know you did is look at the research out there and if anything you found that the research demonstrates there maybe a benefit to being an only child in terms of an array of different attributes.

>> only children tend to be higher achieving and have higher intelligence but more so, i think that the issue is really that we think there's something wrong with only children. it's not that there's something wrong with only children and there's nothing wrong and there are benefits too.

>> so far we have been talking about the effect on the child . you also talk about the effect on parents and what you write is a lot of parents feel guilty for only having one child .

>> it's true. culture tells you to. strangers will say to me you wouldn't do that to your child . i think it 's wonderful . we have a happy family and i'm a happy mother for it.

>> you make an array of arguments on behalf of having one child . one is economic and it is true that children are defensive and by default more children are more expensive.

>> it's true.

>> what did you find of the difference in terms of having one child in terms of the economic burden.

>> in terms of economic burden, that's everyone's personal choice . this all is of course. so children are very expensive and if you want to have them, you'll make it work. but if you don't want to have them, i just want people to know that it's okay.

>> well, you explore all facets of this and there are down sides too and one of the things was you writing about the notion of losing your parents one day and when you are an only child there is that potential that you lose your parents and you're alone in the world .

>> it's true. i'll have my husband and daughter and very dear friend who is are like family but there does seem to be an unreconcilable sort of hole in your heart when you think about that. but to me it's a question of whether that is a reason enough to have another kid and for my family i don't think it is. for others it might be.

>> so what's your message to parents thinking about this and maybe feel the societal pressures to have an additional child .

>> ignore society, pay attention to the research but most of all pay attention to your heart and do what you want for your own freedom and life and family.

>> it's an interesting conversation to say. thank you lauren . the book is called one and