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

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,764 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
International authority on child development Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., joins forces with bestselling author Gabor Maté, M.D., to tackle one of the most disturbing trends of our time: Children today looking to their peers for direction—their values, identity, and codes of behavior. This “peer orientation” undermines family cohesion, interferes with healthy development, and fos ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 2004)
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Apr 19, 2008 Genet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all parents, and anyone thinking of becoming a parent!
Recommended to Genet by: Alison Bennett
My favorite parenting book of all time. While it is not extremely well-written (in a literary or organizational sense), I absolutely love and believe in the ideas presented in this book. Neufeld very clearly identifies the underlying problems in our culture that pull our children away from us. Children need to attach to parents, grandparents, and other adults who can help them develop a true sense of self. We are robbing our children (and ourselves) when we push them too quickly out into the wor ...more
Dec 14, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
I definitely underestimated this book. This is why it languished on the shelf for a few years before I picked it up. I expected yet another underwhelming parenting book. Instead I encountered a revolutionary interpretation of the role of attachment in the lives of our youngsters and an exploration of the implications of this on our culture and our role as parents. The basic neurodevelopmental role of attachment in the establishment of natural authority is explained and the toxic influences of mo ...more
May 05, 2009 Wendee rated it really liked it
Polarization occurs in relationships, which explains why youth shun their parents when they attach to their peers... they can't see how to have both connections. It is soooo important for parents to spend plenty of time with their kids in fun engaging activities.

For me, this is one of the main reasons I homeschool... I could never find enough time to spend with my children when they were gone from 8am to 4pm and then racing off to other activities when they weren't at school. Now, I can actually
Heidi Thorsen
I thought the first part of the book where the author gives examples of the horrors that can result when kids are "peer oriented" went on a bit too long, but did find the chapters where he eventually got around to explaining concrete steps to take to maintain parental attachment while avoiding or reversing peer attachment to be useful.

Before reading this book, I thought kids would "attach" to their parents based largely on the sheer quantity of time they spent together, but the authors have exp
Dec 20, 2011 Thystle rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Thystle by: API
Here is a copy of the review I did for API:

I will honestly state that I did not agree with large portions of this book and had a hard time finishing it. Because I did disagree with so much of it and knew I would need to do a review of it, I took lots of notes and I tried to analyze the authors claims and why I did or did not agree with them. So as a critical thinking exercise it was very enjoyable. It also sparked an interest in reading more scientific research directly on attachment theory (I'v
Oct 15, 2010 reed rated it it was ok
I picked this up because I heard about the author's concept of counterwill - that innate human tendency to resist when someone tries to control you. But I was turned off by his "kids these days" rhetoric. Didn't make it past the first chapter.
Jekaterina Dmitrijeva
Sep 16, 2015 Jekaterina Dmitrijeva rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Šī ir viena no lietderīgākajām grāmatām par bērniem un to audzināšanu, ko esmu lasījusi. Tā fokusējas uz to, cik svarīga ir bērnu un pusaudžu drošā piesaiste (secure attachment) ar vecākiem (vai citiem pieaugušajiem), kā to izveidot un uzturēt. Bet galvenais grāmatas vadmotīvs ir - kas notiek ar mūsu bērniem, ja mēs šo piesaisti neveidojam/pazaudējam. Piesaistei ir jābūt, un ja tā nav ar vecākiem, tā rodas ar draugiem, kas veido situāciju, kad bērnus audzina bērni. Grāmatā detalizēti aprakstītas ...more
Eszter Pálmai
Jul 19, 2015 Eszter Pálmai rated it did not like it
This book was a huge disappointment to me. I'd love to quote paragraphs or terms exactly from the book, but I only have it in my mothertongue, so i may free-translate it's statements i'm going to refer to.
Well, I was really interested in the idea of peer-orientation itself, as it is an existing, serious issue nowadays, but my big hopes started perishing as early as the 3rd chapter, that is about the reasons why children prefer their peers to their elders.

The author blames such abstractions like
Aug 21, 2010 Ruth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-nonfiction
This is probably the best parenting book I have ever read. It explains so much about peer-dominated culture, why it keeps getting worse, and why kids succumb to it at younger and younger ages.

As our kids grow up, they are put into far too many situations where they are expected to develop dependent relationships on their peers rather than on mature adults. Classroom sizes are too big, parents are too busy with work or life stresses or only one parent is present, families are often isolated from
Jan 11, 2010 Jen rated it it was amazing
Here's what I put on my blog about it:

A few months ago a friend blogged about a book she had read. Seeing how it seemed to have an impact on her and respecting her as a seriously amazing mom, I decided to pick it up. She was right. It was one of those books that I would try to relay to Ryan after every chapter I read. (And he even listened, which is sort of, um, rare.) It's obviously a little older than the stage my kids are at, but I'm glad I read it before I get to that point where your kids a
May 27, 2013 Connie rated it really liked it
This book is so different from any other parenting manifesto I've come across. Gabor Mate is a brain research person so I admire his take. I didn't agree with every point and suggestion and theory but it's an important angle to consider in terms of how busy we get and how we forget what's important. Childhood is short and parental influence should be the dominating factor. If you find yourself feeling like other people think you are over-protective as a parent and you shy away from being as nurt ...more
Jen Holman
Sep 29, 2012 Jen Holman rated it it was amazing
Hands down one of the most important parenting books I have ever read. If you considered yourself an "attachment" style parent when your child was a baby, this philosophy is a perfect extension of that. The authors propose that we "let our kids go" too early, and therefore switching their natural attachment from their parents to their peers before kids have had the chance to benefit from our raising of them. Very interesting. The author discusses the extensive ramifications of this phenomenon - ...more
Craig Howson
Jun 22, 2013 Craig Howson rated it it was amazing
If you believe socialization happens through the peer group and not through deep relationship with parents and other mature adults, this book is the antidote. A must read for all parents!!!!
Sep 25, 2015 farmwifetwo marked it as to-read

This book is mentioned in this article, hence why I am writing here. My goal is to one day read the book, for now I will address the article.

From the standpoint of a parent of nearly 16 and 14 year old children, I think daycare is the "whipping boy" but not the cause. We went 2 days/week. This allowed for a smooth transition for 2 ASD children into SrK. They knew about behaving without Mom around, being around other children and routines. They attended pub
Jan 06, 2014 Badlydone rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I am not a fan of parenting books at all, but I very highly recommend this one to all parents, no matter if your child is a toddler or a teen. The main point that the book makes is the importance of parents over peers in a child's life. In the name of independence and socialization, parents these days are pushing their children to spend more time with their peers (playdates for babies?) without recognizing that this practice ultimately backfires on them and leads to challenges in many different ...more
Keren A.
Dec 29, 2014 Keren A. rated it really liked it
This book seems like a rather lengthy tome to say, "attachment between children and parents is important in establishing and maintaining long-term relationship." However, the final portion of the book was particularly and practically helpful. Probably the most valuable once you're a few years into parenting.

I found it interesting that this book essentially stressed many of the concerns about American culture and family that the NFIC (National Family Integrated Church) does, yet without some of
Tara Hendricks
Jan 19, 2008 Tara Hendricks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Children need to know in very concrete ways that you and the other adults in their lives are available to them always and for all things. I really liked this book because it gave me good ideas for ensuring that my children turn to me (and other adults that I trust), lean on me and stay attached to me as they grow. This book shows how very important it is for children to be attached to the adults in their lives. Their parents, their teachers, their grandparents, or family friends. If they don't h ...more
Oct 15, 2013 Julia rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting, nonfiction
Really interesting. Definitely adds to the discussion on attachment parenting, which mostly centers around infants. This includes infants but naturally is much more geared to kids old enough to actually interact with their peers.

If you liked the book Unconditional Parenting or How to Talk so your Kids will Listen, you'll find this adds another dimension to the discussion in those books. And, oddly enough, it also adds another dimension to the discussion of the so-called "tiger mom": many of the
May 15, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This is an important book about maintaining your connection to your children as they grow older. Neufeld argues that having teens pull away from their parents and orient to their peers is not a natural process (only developing in the last few generations) and is very unhealthy for kids and society as a whole. I thought he spent too much time on his explanation of the problem, though. I would have preferred more discussion of strategies of maintaining and strengthening attachment.

I forgot to
Oct 14, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
if i could file-copy Neufeld's brain and upload it into my own I would be there in a heartbeat! lol. his passion seems to be in regards to the attachment of children to their parents, and the need for children to be attached to a caring adult rather than to their peers. his DVD seminars are great as well!

Neufeld is also against 'time outs.' i'll butcher the reasons he gave and you really ought to read the book, but basically he calls for a 'time in.' the need to re-collect our kiddos, kind of li
Aug 15, 2015 Trace rated it it was amazing
August 15th: Rereading it, I can see how much this work has actually influenced so many of my parental decisions. I discovered the attachment parenting movement through this book, from there I started looking into homeschooling and so on..

Such a profound work and I recommend that all parents read it. Still a 5 star book.


This will be a re-read for me. I already know that its one of the most influential parenting books I've ever read and has been the guiding force for many of our f
Chris Gard
Jan 02, 2016 Chris Gard rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely remarkable book. Dr. Neufeld thoroughly breaks down and beautifully articulates the imperative for social attachments of children to parents, extended family and other caregivers. Something that has been completely missed and overlooked for the past several decades.

The cultural breakdown that surrounds us - growing anonymity, increasing childhood violence, bullying, victimisation, delinquency, disengagement, detachment, suicides - are all thanks to our society's deeply impair
Marci Antoniuk
Jul 23, 2014 Marci Antoniuk rated it it was amazing
When I was at the parent link centre for play group, one of the coordinators and I started talking about a phase my kid was going through. She said, "I have a book you need to read." It turns out they lend this book out more than any other, by far. And I learned a ton.

Initally I was really enjoying the discussion about how crucial our connection with our kids is, but I was wondering when the actual disciplining techniques would come in. Turns out a strong parent-child bond is pretty much the cr
Jan 13, 2013 Jo rated it it was amazing
Ok so this is not the best written book ever but the ideas in it are essential for any parent wanting to raise their kids in the most conscious way. It explains the whys and how's of all of those niggly gut feelings over the years that told me something was amiss in society in supporting me to parent my son. As Nuefeld says, just because something is normal it doesn't make I natural or right. I am going to buy copies of this book for every friend I know. Please read this book.
Sep 23, 2007 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all parents, maybe educators
Neufeld suggests children lose attachment to their families as they slowly develop attachment to their peers. This makes perfect sense and the way he lays out the background of family/friend contact over history really seemed plausible. This whole topic fascinates me. I also agreed with his ideas about how to rebuild attachment. I did find myself disagreeing with a few things the author wrote -can't exactly remember them, sorry. But overrall, his ideas were inspirational to me.
Ali Mahmoud
Nov 13, 2015 Ali Mahmoud rated it it was amazing
My favorite parenting book of all time. Dr Neufold discusses the power of connection between parent and child and how the nature of today's society limits our interaction with our children. When at young ages children are placed in daycare or school and spend more time away than with their parents they are forced to bond with their peers.

There are two dangers in a peer relationship being the strongest bond a child has:
1 - Peers do not provide unconditional love. You stay in the good graces of y
Jan 06, 2015 Seiyul rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, I really did. The introduction of the concept of attachment is eye opening and thought provoking. However, the author is so repetitive and long-winded that by the time he moves onto his next point, I've already mentally checked out. Also, the undertone is one of arrogance, you parents are doing it all wrong, I am the guru you need to listen to me. I feel like this book could have been incredible, but ended up well short.
Aug 20, 2009 Laura rated it liked it
The premise that our children, even teens, need parents much more than their peers, is refreshing and convincing. This book, however, suffers from the same problem as most popular parenting and psychology books. I call it, "same song, 12th verse." The authors take a worthy premise and apply a "journalism lite" rubric, spreading a worthy idea too thin and thus blunting the effect.
Apr 11, 2014 Tricia rated it really liked it
Though the beginning part talks on and on about some of the problems with teenagers today, the last third of the book was very challenging and food for much thought. The subtitle, "why parents need to matter more than peers" resonated and this book talked about practical ways to make that happen. A book I will ponder for a while.
May 16, 2015 Averil rated it it was amazing
I would go as far to say this book was LIFE changing. Exceptional! Hubby and I are now working through Dr Neufeld's 'Power to Parent' DVD series. The best parenting advice I've ever heard, read or received and I recommend to all parents - whether new or old, jaded or keen!
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Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist who consults with parents and professionals regarding children and their problems. He brings to us his unique synthesis of the developmental literature and his exceptional ability to make children understandable. He has a widespread reputation for being able to make sense of difficult and complex problems and for opening doors for ...more
More about Gordon Neufeld...

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“Children learn best when they like their teacher and they think their teacher likes them.” 16 likes
“The key to activating maturation is to take care of the attachment needs of the child. To foster independance we must first invite dependance; 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 one than he is giving us. We liberate 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.” 15 likes
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