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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,486 ratings  ·  470 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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 ·  3,486 ratings  ·  470 reviews

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Dec 14, 2011 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
Nov 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Rebecca 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
Mar 23, 2009 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
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was one of the least helpful parenting books that I have ever read. It is partly an attachment parenting book and partly an "I miss the good old days" whine fest. To be fair, I know a LOT about attachment parenting. (I'm a foster mom and have parented kids with attachment disorder and had lots of classes, therapy sessions, and read many books on the topic. I get that I am a tough judge.). But really this books spends more time whining about modern America and romanticising pre WW2 America t ...more
Aug 18, 2010 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
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
Jul 01, 2009 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.
Jan 11, 2010 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
Alanna Truong
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The only parenting book I've read cover to cover (though I've started at least half a dozen this year!)! My first child was a preemie, and once I (finally!) got her home, she never left my side until I had to go back to work. I carried her in a wrap, she sat on my lap while she ate, and slept with us. I had thought that was attachment parenting, until just a few months ago, when trying to wrap my head around some family trials I was watching some loved ones go through. It was only then that I re ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am surprised at how highly this book is rated. I understand that it gives a somewhat alternative view to parenting to most mainstream "systems" and there are some interesting insights to be had. The problem is the authors make the same point repeatedly. By repeatedly I mean over and over and over and over and over again. I do not understand how an editor could have missed how dull and unnecessarily long this tome was unless they are getting paid by the page.

Let me save you the trouble of readi
Jen Holman
Jun 19, 2012 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
Christina Burt
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not just another parenting book! I think anyone could read it and gain an incredible understanding on the people we interact with every day.

It is very eye opening to the cultural shift that has happened over the last 70 years: peers have become the main attachment figures for many children and teens rather than parents and other adults which has lead, among many things, to children not really knowing who they are, having the inability to be vulnerable or to take risks or to stand out in
Eszter Pálmai
Jul 19, 2015 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
May 24, 2010 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
Craig Howson
Jun 22, 2013 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!!!!
Corinne Edwards
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The premise of this astounding book is that in today's culture, more and more children are living their lives being more attached to their peers than their parents. Sound mind-blowing? Maybe not, but at the soul of this book is the idea that our attachment to our children is the one crucial thing that our children cannot truly grow-up without. The book goes in-depth into attachment theory, but not so deep that you can't find your way out again and understand how necessary it is. We learn about h ...more
Mar 31, 2013 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
Jeff Yoak
"Even given the need to read this in paper, I think it will be worth it. I have no idea if it is any good or not, but it is the first book I've seen that formulates one of my biggest open parenting questions in the same way that I've personally formulated it, and that makes me think it is worth a read."

I wrote the above when I bought the paper copy of this book... gosh, it must have been a half decade or more ago. They eventually released it in audio, and I bought that and listened. This is cert
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I make an attempt at trying to read a few books that are also related to the teaching profession. My colleagues and I have attended Gordon Neufeld's talks and we have participated in professional development workshops on Anxiety and Aggression. So, you could say that we have readily accepted and have " attached" ourselves to his line of thinking. The audience is largely targeted to parents, but often references teachers and is certainly relatable to the classroom environment.

Like Neufeld, I s
Feb 19, 2013 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
Aug 20, 2009 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. The authors take a worthy premise and apply a "journalism lite" rubric, spreading a worthy idea too thin and thus blunting the effect.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Paradigm-shifting. One of the most important parenting books I’ve read.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. Not the best writing, but the content makes up for it. Provided a very simple answer for why parenting today is so much harder/different than it used to be years ago, why "kids don't respect adults like they used to", etc--being that our culture no longer supports or values the parent-child relationship which is the MOST important thing in raising children.

It reaffirmed a lot of what I already try to do, gave me a whole new perspective on them needing "friends", and has motivated me
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Ambivalent about this one. I think it's an important book to read, or better said, the concepts are important to consider and worth glancing over. The book itself is poorly written. It's repetitive, unorganized, and reads a bit like a college paper. It also has a little of the ol, "the kids these days" feel to it. However, I do agree there's truth in his premise, that kids today are overly peer-connected (perhaps the constant social media connection contributes to this?) which trumps our own par ...more
May 14, 2009 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
Jan 11, 2012 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
Oct 14, 2008 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
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Conceptually this book is well thought out and it gives solid examples of how connecting with our children in a mindful way is beneficial in the long run. This book explores our education system and culture and how it has influenced a more peer-oriented culture.
I always wish the authors of these types of books would give a more thorough look at an average week in their lives with their kids. The examples are helpful, but what are these author's doing to connect with their kids while they are bu
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Life changing. You'll never look at yourself, society or culture the same way. If you are struggling with behavior issues with children, or looking to understand your own upbringing in a new light look no further. Sometimes the answer lies neither directly with our child or ourselves, but actively cultivating the attachment relationship.
Daniel Mate does a phenomenal job narrating the audio book, amazing voice!

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

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Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
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“Children learn best when they like their teacher and they think their teacher likes them.” 27 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.” 24 likes
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