Parental Instinct

Mom and Baby Playing with Drum

Music class with Mom.

Babies don’t come with instruction manuals.  So how are you supposed to know what to do?  Well, I’m sure that many people have told you not to worry.  It’s instinctive.  You will just naturally know what to do.  Have you noticed how wrong they are?  Are there many times when you really don’t have a clue?

The reason the notion of “parental instinct” was so popular is that for thousands of years, people were born, grew up, and died all within a radius of a couple of miles.  Consequently, when you had a baby, your mother and father were nearby, you had access to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other extended family members, and you were in a close-knit community filled with parents of children the same age or a little older than yours.  There were all these people who could and would convey childrearing information and advice in a very casual and informal manner.

The myth of “parental instinct” was exploded after World War II.  Suddenly we became a very mobile society and people were moving all over the country for employment and other purposes.  As a result, many couples were having babies in relative isolation.  And as it turned out, they had no idea what to do.  This gave rise to the “parenting experts.”  There are now scores of books, magazines, and web sites filled with childrearing information and advice from people with fancy degrees.

While this can be helpful, it is often unsatisfying.  After all, these experts don’t really know you or your child.  And the fact is that when you are dealing with human beings, there are no rules, recipes, for formulas.  There are no “one size fits all” philosophies and practices, and even the best suggestions need to be customized if they are going to be effective.

That is another reason why I recommend Romp n’ Roll.  There is no doubt that the children are learning a lot.  But what is also obvious to me is that their mothers and fathers are also seeking and receiving occasional education from the staff and other parents.  It may be taking place in a casual and informal manner, but it is highly effective and quite comforting.

Dr. Michael MeyerhoffMichael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project.  He may be contacted via e-mail at

Lead and Follow

Birthday Party

Birthday boy leads the way!

As you observe your child engaged in various activities with her peers at Romp n’ Roll, do you notice that she sometimes is a “leader” and sometimes she is a “follower”?  Given the strong emphasis on “leadership skills” one sees when applying to college or seeking employment, you may be wishing she abandoned the latter role and focused exclusively on the former. Read more

Setting a Realistic Adaptation Level

Having fun at Romp n' Roll!When your child is frustrated or disappointed on occasion, does that make you feel like a failure as a parent?  Well, you should know that whatever you have done or haven’t done is actually beneficial for his mental health. Read more

A Happy Place

Young Child Popping Bubbles

Have fun at our famous Bubble Dance Party!

I hope you noticed the entry on the Romp n’ Roll Facebook page about it being impossible to say the word “bubbles” in an angry way.  While that is quite amusing, it also makes an important psychological point.

Being a parent isn’t always easy.  There are times when anger and frustration can overwhelm you.  Furthermore, it isn’t always easy to be a citizen of this world.  The condition of the economy, terrorism, and all sorts of other stuff with which we are bombarded by the news can produce a lot of fear and anxiety.  And all that negative emotion obviously is not good for your mental health.

So what can you do?

Read more

Changing Majors

Climbing at Romp n' RollI have two granddaughters who started college last year and are now beginning the second semester of their sophomore term.  One has changed her major twice, the other has changed her major three times.  Both are very bright and both are doing quite well academically.  So what is their problem? Read more