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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.