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Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers Paperback – August 15, 2006
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"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."
"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.
From the Inside Flap
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.
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I usually "eat up" good parenting books, especially "radical idea" parenting books, but this one made me nauseous at each subsequent "bite." The authors do have many MANY good points, and I feel somewhat bad only giving it two stars, because there is a lot of good thinking in here, but I had to because their delivery/writing style was so incredibly painful, I could barely read the thing.
I found the tone extremely negative, sometimes "alarmist", often condescending, and most frustrating was just how repetitive they were in making their points. I found myself starting to skip sentences, then paragraphs, then sections, then almost whole chapters. (Though I had to consciously convince myself to not do that, as I did feel I might miss something...)
The main take aways from this book are:
a) encourage your children to be very emotionally close to you - not just as babies (where they are by default) but as children and teens too, be a big part of their lives - a bigger part than their peers.
b) if you don't...you AND your children could be in for tough times later on.
I'd say about 90% of the book describes those tough times and then the remaining 10% addresses how to resolve the issue.
I'd also like to see more references to peer-reviewed research too.
I am a mom and a teacher of high school students, and if I weren't a teacher, I would be terrified of the next generation. In the book, high school students are portrayed as amoralistic, guided only by gossip and the latest fashion. Nothing is farther from the truth. Almost all high school students hold the adults in their lives in high regard and look to them as moral compasses. Even the "troubled" teen will look to an adult if given half a chance.
The authors mention the "natural" way to raise children. In their point of view, it's not natural for children to be educated away from their parents. If we want to really get down to it, the most natural thing for humans is for the teens to be starting families of their own once they are adolescents. They are biologically impelled to pull away from the parental unit.
And as for the dire warnings regarding public education. We are so lucky to have this gripe. In many previous generations, only children of the very wealthy were fortunate to be educated. We cannot forget how privileged we are to have education for all students, no matter what the background of the family. Not too long ago, most kids had to work at a young age--away from the family.
The authors seem to suggest that the only way to prevent the corrosive influence of youth culture is to keep your kids at home, to limit your kids' exposure to their peers. They make it sound like every teen will be easily seduced into thinking other people's ideas, and again, as a teacher, I rarely see this problem. Most teens love to question ideas and figure out what their own stances are. They may end up questioning a parent's idea or value, but that is a result of the child thinking for him or herself having done some research or being educated about a topic. Not because their current BFFs told them what to think. (And according to the authors, teens don't have deep conversations with each other anyway. Again, not what I've seen.) Children shouldn't automatically be ideological mimics of their parents. But I will say that in general, the child will espouse the values he or she has been taught at home.
The book is good on talking about attachment, how to maintain it or repair it, as well as a reminder to stay tuned into your kids, even as they begin to reject you. But I think the portrayal of the general teen population is very skewed.
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. He's also sensitive to even the most subtle withdrawal of my affection, and this drives him to attach more quickly to others who will fill the void. If he's around his peers when we've been having a rough time with our mother-son relationship, any authority and influence I may have had disappears and all hell breaks loose. If this keeps up, I'll lose him completely by middle school.
I've struggled with how to handle these difficulties. Mainstream parenting philosophy dictates that firmer boundaries and punitive measures are necessary to nip negative behavior in the bud. Attachment theory suggests the opposite. I've waffled between the two, leaning toward attachment and then chickening out in the face of parental and societal pressure. Intuition always leads me back to attachment, though. And when I doubt myself, I end up with a book like this one to give me the support I need.
The following is a quote from the book that seemed to sum up the prescription for me:
"The key to activating maturation is to take care of the attachment needs of the child. To foster independence, we must first invite dependence; to promote individuation we must provide a sense of belonging and unity; to help the child separate, we must assume the responsibility for keeping the child close. We help a child let go by providing more contact and connection than he himself is seeking. When he asks for a hug, we give him a warmer on than he is giving us. We liberate our children not by making them work for our love but by letting them rest in it. We help a child face the separation involved in going to sleep or going to school by satisfying his need for closeness."
For me, this translated to:
* Playing more with him and watching him play, especially when he hasn't asked.
* "Spending time" at bedtime, (laying next to him until he falls asleep) even if it's inconvenient for me.
* Satisfying his need for closeness - saying yes unless there is a really good reason to say no - even if it means going with him every time he needs to go to the bathroom or find a sock or wash his hands.
* Allowing our daily "quiet time" to be spent in the same room together.
* Being unconditionally loving in my tone and words. Reaffirm that I love him no matter what.
* Do what it takes to manage my own frustration in healthy ways (exercise, meditate, sleep, etc.) so I don't take it out on him.
In essence, I need to consider his attachment needs ahead of my own needs for space, quiet, control, approval or whatever it is I'm seeking at the moment. I am a mature adult, and I can be creative in finding other healthy ways of getting those needs met. Lucas is not, and he won't be for a long time. If left to his own devices, his choices are not going to be smart ones. Just look at most adolescents.
This book was just the right wake-up call to get me back on track.