Healthy Selfishness

Healthy Selfishness

You have just enrolled your child in a parent-optional class at Romp n’ Roll. You are looking forward to getting a mani/pedi, enjoying a peaceful latte, or simply taking a shower in complete privacy. Suddenly you are overcome by a wave of guilt. Are you being a bad parent by “abandoning” your little one just so you can have some time for yourself?

Actually, it is quite the contrary. As a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project I was fascinated by one of our findings. In studying the traits of parents who were raising bright, happy, well-adjusted children, we discovered that they routinely demonstrated what we called “healthy selfishness.” While they took very good care of their offspring, they never hesitated to take care of themselves as well.

It’s like the instructions they give you on the airplane. They tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then help your child with his. After all, if you pass out, you are not going to be doing any good for anyone.

So go ahead and enjoy the mani/pedi, the latte, the shower, or whatever. And while doing so, forget about feeling guilty and take pride in the fact that you are doing precisely what a good parent should be doing.

Dr. Mike

Michael 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