Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon NeufeldHold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld

Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

byGordon Neufeld, Gabor Mate

Paperback | May 10, 2005

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A psychologist with a reputation for penetrating to the heart of complex parenting issues joins forces with a physician and bestselling author to tackle one of the most disturbing and misunderstood trends of our time -- peers replacing parents in the lives of our children.

Dr. Neufeld has dubbed this phenomenon peer orientation, which refers to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for a sense of right and wrong, for values, identity and codes of behaviour. But peer orientation undermines family cohesion, poisons the school atmosphere, and fosters an aggressively hostile and sexualized youth culture. It provides a powerful explanation for schoolyard bullying and youth violence; its effects are painfully evident in the context of teenage gangs and criminal activity, in tragedies such as in Littleton, Colorado; Tabor, Alberta and Victoria, B.C. It is an escalating trend that has never been adequately described or contested until Hold On to Your Kids. Once understood, it becomes self-evident -- as do the solutions.

Hold On to Your Kids will restore parenting to its natural intuitive basis and the parent-child relationship to its rightful preeminence. The concepts, principles and practical advice contained in Hold On to Your Kids will empower parents to satisfy their children’s inborn need to find direction by turning towards a source of authority, contact and warmth.

Something has changed. One can sense it, one can feel it, just not find the words for it. Children are not quite the same as we remember being. They seem less likely to take their cues from adults, less inclined to please those in charge, less afraid of getting into trouble. Parenting, too, seems to have changed. Our parents seemed more confident, more certain of themselves and had more impact on us, for better or for worse. For many, parenting does not feel natural. Adults through the ages have complained about children being less respectful of their elders and more difficult to manage than preceding generations, but could it be that this time it is for real? -- from Hold On to Your Kids

From the Hardcover edition.
Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Vancouver. He has spent much of his professional life creating coherent theories for understanding child development. He is nationally recognized for his work on aggression and violence among children and youth and appears regularly on radio and television, both in...
Title:Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than PeersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.02 × 6 × 0.81 inPublished:May 10, 2005Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0676974724

ISBN - 13:9780676974720

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fellow Interesting view. Yet another problem assosiated with cultural homogenizing through modern media.
Date published: 2014-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Resource Book, Not Great Writing I give this book 4 stars as a resource book. Quite frankly some of the material in here is fantastic and deserves a higher rating. However the book would be 2 stars at best if I ranked it for enjoyable reading. It reads more like a textbook. Gordon Neufeld shares his work on the problems of kids and their relationships with their parents which he attributes to not enough time spent together. Their is a price to pay for daycare but there are ways to overcome it. There are a number of stories, statistics and advice that are interesting, shocking and illuminating in the book. There just aren't enough of them. Too often as you get into the second half of the book you feel you have read the same argument with a different twist and it gets bored and tiresome. To be honest I don't even think I finished the book. I did highlight many chapters and sections and think it is a great resource. But it can also cure insomnia.
Date published: 2013-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An invaluable resource for parents! I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. This is an invaluable resource for any parent who is concerned about the effects of peers on their children. The advice given by Drs. Neufeld and Maté really resonated with me, and it validated my instinctual parenting practices. I have always been a proponent of attachment parenting, and I consider my children's attachment bond to me (and vice versa) to be extremely strong. However, this book still gave me some useful advice on what I can do to improvement our relationship even further. I found the psychology of attachment as explained by the authors to be very interesting. As a mother, I am extremely concerned about the influence of peers. It is harder to be kid nowadays than it was when I was growing up. This book holds the key to helping parents to foster the attachment to the parent and not to the peers. For most parents, the desire to foster attachment to babies is automatic: They respond to a baby's needs, soothe and comfort the baby as needed, talk to baby about what is in her environment to help the baby relate to what is around her, and so forth. As the baby passes on into the toddler stage, many parents feel that the child needs to interact with other children so that they "learn to get along with others." The torch of teaching is unwittingly passed, so to speak, from the parent to a child's peers at any early age and the child is put into situations (for example, through play-dates and daycare) where they are expected to attach to their peers. The authors explain why socializing is not equivalent to socialization: "If socializing with peers led to getting along and to becoming responsible members of society, the more time a child spent with her peers, the better the relating would tend to be...the more children spend time with each other, the less likely they are to get along." Drs. Neufeld and Maté discuss a study conducted by Dr. U. Bronfenbrenner and his research team at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York which found that "the children who preferred spending time with their parents demonstrated many more of the characteristics of positive sociability" compared to the children who gravitated to their peers. "The kids that spent the most time with each other are the most likely to get into trouble." The authors are not against peer bonds but suggest that the manner in which they are made (socialization via maturation vs socialization via attachment) is the key: "True social integration requires not only a mixing with others but a mixing without losing one's separateness or identity." The authors also describe a process of "collecting" our children or making a connection with them at the outset of each interaction with them. I know that I have sometimes asked my children multiple times to do something and they say "okay" but still don't do it! It is so frustrating! If I follow the advice of the authors, I should "get in the child's face - or space - in a friendly way" which entails making a connection with the child through eye contact, trying to evoke a smile, and if possible a nod of the head. Rather than calling from the kitchen and asking one of my kids to do something, I should go to the child to "collect" her first: Get her attention and establish eye contact (a touch on the shoulder or bending down to eye level makes it easier), try to evoke a smile and a nod of the head (I might say something like, "That game sure looks like a lot of fun!" which will probably get a smile and maybe even a nod of the head). Once I have "collected" her and have her attention, I can ask her to do whatever it was that I needed her to do: "Could you please go downstairs for me and bring up a jug of milk from the refrigerator?" It takes a little bit more effort on my part, but it also saves me the headache of asking my kids to do something repeatedly with no response. It is such a simple thing, yet very effective. Collecting the child in this manner is the first step in trying to re-establish a connection to a child who is already showing signs of "peer orientation," where peer bonds have replaced parental bonds. There is an entire section of the book devoted to educating the parent on how to reclaim the child. The information is presented in a manner that is very easy to follow, and the authors include real-life examples for further emphasis. This book should be required reading for all parents! Highly recommended! The narrator of the book is Daniel Maté. His pace was very good, and his style was engaging. My only complaint is that there is often "dead air" at the end of each chapter. The first time it happened, I had to glance down at my iPod because I thought the battery was dead. No, it was just dead air. It was as long as 44 seconds in one instance! Other than that, there were no technical glitches.
Date published: 2012-10-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unless you have a dictionary ready, don't bother! It's a hard read. I was dissapointed. I've read lots on the topic of parenting. I also attended, " The Power to Parent ". A parenting class via videos, also by Dr. Neufeld. I have to say I was very surprised. The difference of understanding the material was night and day! I also watched the " Hold On To Your Kids " video. All I was able to understand. The hold on to your kids book I had to read with a dictionary. I don't have time to read like that so needless to say I got to the end of the second chapter and called it quits. What a shame! I really beleave in Gordon Neufelds philosophy.
Date published: 2008-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing Thought Provoking Book Last summer I picked up Hold On To Your Kids. Quite honestly, it has taken me a while to get through it (finally did today!). Part One The Phenomenon of Peer Orientation was fascinating. Part Two Sabotaged: How Peer Orientation Undermines Parenting scared the crap out of me. Part Three Stuck in Immaturity: How Peer Orientation Stunts Healthy Development was a tough read as Neufeld regurgitated the same points from part one & two with just a slightly different theme, though I still highly recommend reading this part. Part Four How to Hold On To Our Kids (How to Reclaim Them) was inspiring and motivating for raising children in a loving parent-child bond while providing gentle discipline. Part Five Preventing Peer Orientation gives great advice on how to avoid an overabundance of peer-peer socialization, however a lot of it is common sense which many parents could formulate after reading the previous chapters. Basically, Neufeld & Mate feel we’re in a state of crisis concerning our children. Children are bonding with their peers, putting them first. We're letting our children be raised by other children. Children need adults to show them correct morals and values on how to become a good human being. Children do not learn that from their peers. Adults, mainly parents, grandparents, and teachers, provide unconditional love, while peer bonds usually have many conditions. In his book, Neufeld & Mate give the reader many wonderful tools to use to help create the parent-child attachment (part four). Basically, be attentive, connect, be supportive, offer unconditional love, and guide instead of dictate.
Date published: 2008-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best Parenting Book I've Read I have read all of the “Popular Parenting” books and have found them to be very general and without any clear and sensible solutions. I was frustrated as I continued to struggle with several issues concerning my pre-teen children and had a sense that their peers were becoming too strong of an influence. Fortunately, I read a Vancouver Sun book review at it's first printing and immediately purchased a copy. It quite simply caused me to change and qualify both my relationship and role with my children. Without laying blame, the book acknowledges that our North American Career and Individualist culture have contributed to our children’s loss of connection to parent and family mentors. At a very young age children look to a mentor to “imprint and attach to”. Throughout our history this has been provided by parents, extended family and “villages”. For a variety of reasons we no longer have the extended family support needed. During their development children (including teens) continue to seek attachments. When this is not provided, peers will fill this void often with devastating results. Peers aren’t stakeholders in the child’s welfare nor have the maturity to be. While this may sound rather depressing, the authors acknowledge that the problems exist and recommend real solutions. This includes the importance of joining Community and Church groups which can help to create a modern village. I wished it had been available when my children were younger but found it both relevant and very helpful and continue to refer to it. You can also attend a workshop. These are held frequently by Community groups for a very minimal cost. Go to www.gordonneufeld.ca Shelley Smirfitt
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read for all parents I wish I had had the opportunity to read this book a few years ago. We would have increased our efforts to limit time with friends and/or find creative ways to have the friends interact with our family. The challenge at this point is finding family activities that will engage and interest a teen who is now more interested in hanging with her friends. I wish the politicians would read this book and realize that parents need more control over 16 and 17 year olds, they should NOT be able to leave home if they choose. Teens of this age still need us and are not yet ready to leave home to live in the company of their peers! We can try to hold on to them, but in tough situations it would help if the law was on the side of the parents.
Date published: 2005-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read for Parents, Teachers, Grandparents, This is such an important book for our generation. Dr. Neufeld's explanation of the trend is dead on in my opinion. It is also scary, we need to once again go back to being a family in the true sense. We need to be with our children and not leave raising our children up to someone else. We can fix what has gone wrong, are we up to the challenge?
Date published: 2005-07-07

Read from the Book

PART ONE: The Phenomenon of Peer Orientation Chapter One: In Our Own Backyard Something has changed. We can sense it, can feel it, just not find the words for it. Children are not quite the same as we remember being. They seem less likely to take their cues from adults, less inclined to please those in charge, less afraid of getting into trouble. Parenting, too, seems to have changed. Our parents were more confident, more certain of themselves and had more impact on us, for better -- or, sometimes, for worse. For many today, parenting does not feel natural. Through the ages adults have complained about children being less respectful of their elders and more difficult to manage than preceding generations, but could it be that this time it is for real? Today’s parents love their children as much as parents ever have, but the love doesn’ t always get through. We have just as much to teach them as parents ever did, but they seem less interested in following our direction. We can sense our children’s potential but do not feel empowered to guide them toward fulfilling it. Sometimes they live and act as if they have been seduced away from us by some siren song we do not hear. We fear, if only vaguely, that the world has become less safe for them and that we are powerless to protect them. The gap opening up between children and adults can seem unbridgeable at times. We struggle to live up to our image of what parenting ought to be like. Not achieving the results we want, we plead with our children, we cajole, bribe, reward or punish. We hear ourselves address them in tones that seem harsh even to us and foreign to our true nature. We sense ourselves grow cold in moments of crisis, precisely when we would wish to summon our unconditional love. We feel hurt as parents, and rejected. We blame -- ourselves for failing at the parenting task, or our children for being recalcitrant, or television for distracting them, or the school system for not being strict enough. When our impotence becomes unbearable we reach for simplistic, authoritarian formulas consistent with the do-it-yourself/quick-fix ethos of our era. The very importance of parenting to the development and maturation of young human beings has come under question. “Do Parents Matter?” was the title of a cover article in Newsweek magazine in 1998. “Parenting has been oversold,” argued a book1 that received international attention that year. “You have been led to believe that you have more of an influence on your child’s personality than you really do.” The question of parental influence would not be of great moment if things were going well with our young. They are not -- and many of us feel that instinctively, even if we cannot explain exactly how and why. That our children do not seem to listen to us or to embrace our traditions and culture as their own would, perhaps, be acceptable in itself -- if we felt that they were truly self-sufficient, self-directed and grounded in themselves, if they had a positive sense of who they are and if they possessed a clear sense of direction and purpose in life. We see that for so many children and young adults those qualities are lacking. In homes, in schools, in community after community developing young human beings have lost their moorings. Many lack self-control and are increasingly prone to alienation, drug use, violence and a general aimlessness. They are less teachable and more difficult to manage than their counterparts of even a few decades ago. Many have lost their ability to adapt, to learn from negative experience and to mature. The crisis of the young has manifested itself ominously in the growing problem of bullying in the schools and, at its most extreme, in the murder of children by children, whether in British Columbia or New York, Quebec or Colorado. Committed and responsible parents are frustrated. Our cues are not being taken, our directives are ineffective, and it appears our children would rather be elsewhere than at home. Despite our loving care kids seem highly stressed. Parents and other elders no longer appear to be the natural mooring point for the young, as used to be the case with human beings and is still the case with all other species living in their natural habitats. Senior generations, the parents and grandparents of the baby boomer group, look at us with incomprehension. “We didn’t need how-to manuals on parenting in our days, we just did it,” they say, with some mixture of truth and misunderstanding. This state of affairs is ironic, given that more is known about child development than ever before. More courses and books are available on child rearing, and we can offer our children more things to do and explore. We probably live in a more child-centred universe than our predecessors did. So what has changed? The problem, in a word, is context. Parenting is not something we can engage in with just any child, no matter how well intentioned, skilled or compassionate we may be. Parenting requires a context to be effective. A child must be receptive to our parenting for us to be successful in our nurturing, comforting, guiding and directing. Children do not automatically grant us the authority to parent them just because we are adults, or just because we love them or know what is good for them or have their best interests at heart. Those who parent other people’s children are often confronted by this fact, be they step-parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies, daycare providers or teachers. Less obviously but of great importance is the fact that even with one’s own children the natural parenting authority can become lost if the context for it becomes eroded.From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents


The Phenomenon of Peer Orientation
1 -- In Our Own Backyard
2 -- A Matter of Attachment
3 -- An Attachment Affair
4 -- Why We’ve Come Undone

The Legacy of Peer Orientation (Why We Must Hold On)
5 -- The Power to Parent Is Slipping Away
6 -- Help Turned to Hinderance
7 -- Obedience Turned to Resistance
8 -- The Dangerous Flight from Vulnerability
9 -- Stuck in Immaturity
10 -- A Faulty Assumption
11 -- The Flatlining of Culture
12 -- A Legacy of Aggression
13 -- Bullies Begotten
14 -- A Sexual Turn
15 -- Unteachable Students

How to Hold On to Our Children
16 -- Collecting Our Children
17 -- Don’t Court the Competition
18 -- Preserve the Ties That Empower
19 -- Discipline That Does Not Divide
20 -- Create a Village of Attachment


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"Hold on to Your Kids blows in from Canada like a Blue Northern, bringing us genuinely new ideas and fresh perspectives on parenting. The authors integrate psychology, anthropology, neurology and their own personal and professional experiences as they examine the 'context' of parenting today. This is a worthy book with practical implications for mom and dad."—Dr. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other"Hold on to Your Kids is visionary book that goes beyond the usual explanations to illuminate a crisis of unrecognized proportions. The authors show us how we are losing contact with our children and how this loss undermines their development and threatens the very fabric of sociey. Most importantly they offer, through concrete examples and clear suggestions, practical help for parents to fulfill their instinctual roles. A brilliant and well written book, one to be taken seriously, very seriously."—Peter A. Levine Ph.D., International teacher and author of the best selling books: Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma and It Won’t Hurt Forever, Guiding Your Child through Trauma "The thoughts and perspectives presented by the authors are informative — even inspirational — for those who choose to dedicate their lives and energy to students."—Bulletin of the National Association of Secondary School Principals"With original insights on parent-child attachments and how parents can restore them, this is a book for revitalizing families and rekindling the song in their children’s hearts."—Raffi, children’s troubadour, founder of Child Honoring Society Institute"With simple ideas and steps, this book is directed not only to parents, but to all those — educators, social workers, counselors — whose lives and work bring them into contact with children."—Quill & Quire"Though this is Neufeld's personal theory, Maté (Scattered Minds, When the Body Says No) has expressed his colleague's ideas in precise and hard-hitting prose that makes complex ideas accessible without dumbing them down. The result is a book that grabs hard, with the potential to hit many parents where they live."—The Edmonton Journal"[M]ay serve as a loud wake-up call for mothers and fathers….this one offers what many of the others do not — that rare commodity known as common sense."—Winnipeg Free Press"With the benefit of 30 years of research and experience, Neufeld has crafted a coherent, compelling theory of child development that will cause an immediate frisson of recognition and acceptance in its readers. His approach has the power to change, if not save, the lives of our children."—National Post"The authors present doable strategies to help parents help their kids. If their advice is taken to heart, there’s hope there will be more warmth and security all round."—The Georgia StraightPraise for Scattered Minds by Gabor Maté, M.D."Rare and refreshing. . . . Here you will find family stories, an accessible description of brain development and sound information. You will also find hope."—The Globe and Mail"An utterly sensible and deeply moving book written for a general audience."—The Vancouver SunFrom the Hardcover edition.