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on February 8, 2004
Several years ago, my wife and I attended a seminar by Vancouver psychologist, Dr. Gordon Neufeld. It was one of those rare educational experiences that really altered the way we related to our children. The subject of that talk, "Hold on to Your Kids", is now expanded in this wonderful new book, co-authored with Vancouver MD, Gabor Maté.
The first two-thirds deal with a cultural malaise that the authors claim is sweeping North America, making both parenting and teaching more challenging. With a wealth of both cited research and personal stories, the authors tie together issues such as bullying, early promiscuity, general aimlessness, learning difficulties, and the "flatlining of culture".
Despite the usual association with peer concerns, this is not just a book for parents of teenagers. There is something here for every age group, from preschool through high school. It's also most assuredly not just a catalog of problems, but a well-developed thesis leading to the insight necessary for solutions. Several chapters in the final section would be worth the price alone. "Discipline That Does Not Divide" is an excellent parenting primer, while "Create a Village of Attachment" will help both parents and teachers ensure that their charges profit from their school experience.
We who attended Dr. Neufeld's seminars in Vancouver had been waiting several years to see his ideas in print. The book does not disappoint. I will be rereading mine many times in the coming years. And perhaps more to come from this master of parenting.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 6, 2008
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.
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on March 3, 2004
As a concientious, caring parent I have been reading parenting books for years only to be frustrated again and again by prescriptive methodologies that run counter to my intuitions, and read like behaviour modification suggestions for experimental lab rats. We have been told time and again by various experts that if we give the right rewards, and enforce the right sanctions our children will behave and develop as we wish them to. Or, on the contrary, we have been told that we need not give our children any boundaries or guidelines, but must encourage them to find their own way without our input, trusting to "natural consequences" to provide them with direction. We have been told that if we are clear with our expectations our children will live up to them, only to find tht they don't. These methodologies have infiltrated the culture, and yet we have more violence, aggression, suicide, and depression, lack of direction, and boredom among our young people today than has ever been the case before.
Gordon Neufeld's book is not another prescriptive "how to" manual. He reminds us that our children are more than their behaviour. He turns our gaze to their relationship needs, and shows us clearly what happens for children when those needs are met, and describes the disastrous results for a child's emotional, social, and intellectual development when they aren't. Dr. Neufeld helps us to see what is going wrong with our children, and what needs to be done to make it right. This book touches the heart of parenting in a way no other parenting book I have ever read does. it rings true begininning to end; I can't recommend it strongly enough.
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on April 19, 2004
The author of this book was my professor 30! years ago and he was interesting then. I heard him speak a year ago and could hardly wait to read his book. It was heavy going, filled with fascinating and very important ideas about how our children grow and develop and how to hold on to them until they are fully formed - also how crucial it is to hold on to them in order for them to develop fully. This book was very important for me in terms of my own children and I'd like to buy a case of them to distribute to all of the professionals in my life who deal with kids.
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on April 16, 2007
I purchased this book after attending a 2 hour lecture by Mr. Neufeld which was a huge eye opener and was profound enough to change how I parent.This book has an impactful message, focusing on cultivating a connected relationship with your child and insight into the negative impact that occurs when children become more connected to their peers than their parents.

Read all the 5 star reviews to find out about the good side of this book BUT- here is the downside- as much as I appreciated the message, this book is not an easy read and I am a true die hard reader of non-fiction books (esp. parenting books!) Had I not attended the lecture I never would have persevered through to finish the book.

It felt to me that the author was more focused on proving his theory to other scholars rather than relating to the average parent. I love to pass on books that have made a difference in my life, yet I know this one would sit half read on my friends night stands due to the fact that it was too long, too wordy, and points were repeated to the point of being redundant.

In terms of message I rate this book a 5 star, because of how it was written I must give it a 3 star rating.
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on February 12, 2004
As important as are Dr. Neufeld's insights into how peers can replace parents, even more valuable is the comprehensive framework for understanding psychological/emotional development that he outlines, showing what fosters healthy development, how development can get stuck and what to do when it does. These insights alone were more than worth the purchase price of the book and truly answer the question *why* parents matter. I've read other books that say some of the same things, but don't explain *why* they are true. This book is more comprehensive and more in-depth than any other I've read. It is truly the most important book on parenting that I've ever read. Hold On To Your Kids is not an overtly religious book, but those familiar with the Bible will recognize references to scripture, and those who believe in "grace-based discipline" (a la Biblical Parenting) will find much to agree with, although there are some differences.
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on June 27, 2014
I have been in the field of youth justice (Ontario) for 25+ years so I thought I knew how to navigate the teenage years...until my teenage son got into marijuana. This book is homework for parents at the treatment program we eventually had to admit him into because he had spiralled so far from our control. I couldn't believe this book....had I read it when my son was first in trouble, I would have done so many things differently and he may never have needed the program he's in now. And I can see it's applicability for so many of the kids we see in our business. I've never believed in parenting books. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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on April 1, 2012
While I agree with most of what the authors have to say, I have some reservations about it. Never has the family been so child centered; we're having fewer kids, having them later, understanding better our roles as parents and questioning how we were raised ourselves. I think there is some fear-mongering in this approach. 'Better not allow your kids to ever get angry at you or ever be told, "because I say so" or show your own ambivalence about parenting or else the kids will reject you, your influence, your ideas, your values and turn completely to peers to fill them up.' I do understand that there is more stuff outside of the home to lure kids away and never have children been so targeted by media and shopping and gadgets and peer pressure. But the generation gap is not new; kids have been rejecting parents openly since the fifties when 'dating' emerged as an activity not necessarily leading to marriage and media and the automobile gave kids a freedom that was unprecedented. I'm pretty sure this generation didn't invent eye-rolling and sighing and disobedience and pushing limits.

Parents are more stretched than they were a few generations ago. Dual incomes are the norm. Kids are 'raised' in daycares and often outside their homes. Divorce is common. But I also don't think these phenomenons are wholly new. Go back far enough and women were all working - who filled all the low paying factory jobs during the industrial revolution? Poor people have always had to work - women inside and outside their homes. Large families meant lots of siblings - lots of kids that were expected to shut up and contribute and certainly not cause any waves. To be fed and clothed and educated meant the parents were doing a good job. I'm sure these parents didn't have the intelligence or luxury to worry about their offspring's emotional balance. They had to cope. Period. Women died in childbirth and second or third marriages and step-families and half-families and kids being separated and divided among relatives were not unusual.

I'm not suggested for one moment that there isn't much more to child rearing than providing food and shelter and education. I think intelligent parents should be concerned with their children's self esteem, their core feelings of trust and safety, have friendly, positive, open, communicative relationships with their kids. I think, whenever possible, kids should be raised in their own homes or have daycare situations that are as stable as possible. But I don't think 'time outs' or 'removal of privileges' are akin to child abuse. I don't think the average child will be annihilated from a temporary loss of favor. Good grief! Dr. Spock talks about setting limits right from the start. I totally respect his opinion - it seems a great balance between the needs of the parent and the child. If your 6 month old is biting you, it seems reasonable to put them down and tell them no. Not sure the authors of this book would agree. That would be cruel - the child needs more cuddling, more affirmation, more affection.....Really? Children need limits and boundaries and reasonable expectations and they get this through confident loving leadership. How can children learn how to handle disappointment if they are never disappointed? How can they learn the value of their privileges if they never earn them?

So I found this an interesting read overall. I think from a 'social anthropology' perspective it's very intriguing. Always interesting to read about trends and differences in generations. But I do think most of these theories can be easily taken with a grain of salt. All parents have their own styles - some naturally strict, others more permissive. All can raise happy, well adjusted kids that value their family connections for their whole lives. This is something else Dr. Spock mentions - it's more the tone and spirit of your parenting that matters. So I have both books on my shelf. When I become a grandmother I'll lend out both to my daughter. She turned out ok and we have a fabulous relationship. I think I've always naturally adopted the approach of non-punitive parenting. My home was always a place where her friends liked to be.
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on July 22, 2012
I bought this book because one of its authors was Gabor Mate. Also, because my daughter was a challenge, especially as a teen, and I read every book I could to stay sane while helping her go through these turbulent years.

This book explains why raising kids in the current North American society is such a challenge. I always felt this way, but did not know what to do about it. I had an experience in another country, as we immigrated to Canada when my daughter was only 8 years old.

I just wish I read this book much, much earlier. This way, I would have had more strength as a parent, and more compassion to what my daughter is facing in her everyday life. I would be able to help her better without stressing myself out about things that are not true or don't matter.

This book is not your easy to read popular set of parental anecdotes. It is deep. For a thinking person, a parent who wants to raise his or her kids and keep them close to his or her heart, I highly recommend this book. It will make your job easier.

There is another, very old, book that I give to every parent who asks me for an advice. Robert and Jean Bayard, "How to Deal With Your Acting-Up Teenager:Practical Help for Desperate Parents." This book is THE BEST help when you are in a tough situation. "Hold on to your kids" gives you strength to act every day so that you potentially can prevent getting there in the first place.

My daughter, by the way, turned out all right. You kid will, likely, too. But you can make this journey easier and more pleasant for the both of you with the help of this book :)
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Gordon Neufeld, a prominent Canadian child psychologist, has written a very timely and informative book on why and how parents should attempt to stay connected with their children right into adulthood. He believes many children have become socially endangered by the questionable relationships they foster with their peers at the expense of their parents. According to Neufeld, it is absurd to think that an immature teenager can derive personal security from fostering friendships with other equally immature peers. Hence, making friends with one's peers is not a high priority in Neufeld's thinking, However, the concept of filial attachment - the effective bond between parent and son or daughter - is the critical core of Neufeld's thesis. It is incumbent on parents to learn how to direct and nuture their children to eventually becoming mature adults. To that end, he offers some very practical ideas by which Mom and Dad can effectively offset or counter any negativity or immaturity arising from peer orientation. There is plenty of evidence out there to show that this generation of children/teens (Y) are rapidly disconnecting with parents and family in a misguided effort to assert its own independence. More than ever before, the casualties from this mad rush for freedom is a growing number of teen-age pregnancies, a greater incidence of sexually transmitted diseases,and a rising tide of youth violence. In this book, Neufeld shares not only the practical intervention strategies that allow parents to reconnect with their children, but also the wisdom and compassion that is needed to make sure they happen. Kudos to Neufeld for leading the way in offering hope to parents who feel powerless to help their struggling child. The one caveat here is that any solution that Neufeld may offer comes with a large demand on one's time to rebuild the broken bridges and cisterns. This doesn't mean that parents are given a blank check to manipulate and control their chldren's lives. Such extensive dominance can have an equally disastrous effect as having no influence at all. Moderation, persistence, and wisdom are the secrets to being successful in saving your child from a life of misery and disorientation.
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