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Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers Paperback – August 15, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Like countless other parents, Canadian doctors Neufeld and Maté woke up one day to find that their children had become secretive and unreachable. Pining for time with friends, they recoiled or grew hostile around adults. Why? The problem, Neufeld and co-writer Maté suggest, lies in a long-established, though questionable, belief that the earliest possible mastery of the rules of social acceptance leads to success. In a society that values its economy over culture, the book states, the building of strong adult/child attachments gets lost in the shuffle. Multiple play dates, day care, preschool and after school activities groom children to transfer their attachment needs from adults to their peers. They become what the authors call "peer oriented." The result is that they squelch their individuality, curiosity and intelligence to become part of a group whose members attend school less to learn than to socialize. And these same children are bullying, shunning and murdering each other, as well as committing suicide, at increasing rates. The authors' meticulous exploration of the problem can be profoundly troubling. However, their candidness and exposition lead to numerous solutions for reestablishing a caring adult hierarchy. Beautifully written, this terrific, poignant book is already a bestseller in Canada.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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 Straight

Praise 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 Sun

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (August 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375760288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375760280
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

236 of 246 people found the following review helpful By Briana LeClaire on May 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've never seen this book's ideas put quite this way before, nor explained so thoroughly. Its time has definitely come.

Neufeld and his wife Joy have at least five children (he sprinkles their names through the book - he never adds them up for us) and he's had what sounds like a distinguished career first treating juvenile offenders, and then moving into family counseling. The overarching theme of the book is ATTACHMENT. To whom are your children more attached? Are they attached to you, their parents, and other adults? Or are they attached to their peers? To whom do they look for guidance? Whose star have they hitched their little wagons to? If children look to adults for guidance, in Neufeld's terminology they are "parent-oriented". If they reject adults in favor of their peers, they are "peer-oriented".

This book explained to me how the relationship between parents (all adults, really) and children has changed in the larger culture. This cultural change has made it difficult to talk to my parents and in-laws about our decision to homeschool. (Neufeld isn't necessarily pro-homeschool - he's pro-adult attachments as opposed to peer attachments.) There have been times when I've been reduced to vague, indistinct clichés like, "Times have changed, so we're homeschooling." They've been too polite to say so, but I just know they're thinking, maybe times have changed, but children haven't, and so you're saying your children don't need regular school? Well, yes, that is what I'm saying, and this book explains why better than I can.
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177 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I must say this book does stand on in that it presents a radically different view of parenting than most books I've read. It holds that the most important thing for kids is a very strong relationship with their parents, and that almost all of the woes of today's kids are caused by them being peer oriented instead of parent oriented. The authors make a very strong case for this being so. I was convinced by the time this part of the book was over. However, as with many books of this type, the section where we are told what to do about this problem is weaker. Most of the ideas would work best with a very young child that has not yet become peer oriented. If you already have a child who is rebellious and addicted to being with peers, I don't think that speaking to them kindly and looking them in the eyes is going to do much. The author gave an example with his own children of taking them away on a week's vacation with just the child and the parent. That sounds good, but I don't think his children had the severe problems of the other examples we are given.

The book also has the perspective of parents that are caring, kind, loving and have their childrens' best interests at heart. I know parents who read parenting books are more likely to fit this perspective, but I kept thinking that not all parents are that completely wonderful. I think many a child has been saved from a childhood that would otherwise be hellish BY their friends. The author also feels children's friendships are not really true friendships, that they are not mature enough to have true friendships. I respect their courage to say that peer relationships are not as important as we are always led to believe. But I do think that childhood friendships can be true ones.
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89 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Mary Ostyn on August 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an avid reader and a mom of 8 kids ages 0-18, I have read a ton of good parenting books, and this one is a new addition to my Top-5 list. It explains the foundational importance of attachment so clearly and also explains why there are so many troubled kids these days. This book give insights for all parents, working or not, whether your kids are 2 or 15, public-schooled or homeschooled, biological or adopted. To safeguard our kids, they need to be willing to value parental input *over* that from friends, and this books explains exactly how to keep them hearing us. I got this book from the library, but I am buying it so I can read it again and also loan it to all my friends and relatives. Dynamite.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Ahrens on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book. It makes a compelling case against the peer-oriented culture which has grown to dominate over the past few decades, especially as it pertains to parents losing their hold on kids as the primary nurturing and guiding force until they reach maturity. It goes as far as to claim that true maturity isn't actually occurring among those who are taking their cues solely from their fellow immature peers. It's the blind leading the blind, with disastrous results.

In today's culture which places a high value on peer interaction along with less time available for families to spend together, it's more difficult for parents to remain the primary orienting force in their children's lives. Children are encouraged to socialize with other children early and often. High student: teacher ratios in daycares and schools encourage attachment to peers instead of teachers. The extended family of loving adults that used to be the norm in children's lives is now the exception, and our mobile society creates isolation instead of community. Add to this mix the effects of media which perpetuates the culture of cool, and the result is that it's simply much, much harder to parent today than it was a few decades ago, and it's far easier for children to turn to each other to meet their attachment needs.

So ... what does all this mean to me, the mother of a three-year-old sensitive child? Actually, the implications are pretty direct. As a sensitive child, Lucas absorbs everyone's energy. He mimics everything and everyone. It already appears that he's very susceptible to influence by his peers, coming home from preschool with new behaviors and mannerisms all the time, to my enormous frustration.
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