Book Review: Hold on to Your Kids

by Neseret on November 1, 2011

Parents' joy

“Our son was then eight years old. We thought we had a problem kid on our hands. Gordon showed us, in short order, that there was no problem with the child or with ourselves, only with our approach to our relationship with him. A few years later we became concerned when our second son, as a young adolescent, no longer seemed to accept our authority or even want our company. Again, we consulted Gordon, whose response was that we had to woo this son into the relationship with us, away from his peers.” ~ Gabor Mate, MD, co-author of Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers ~

Does this sound familiar? Do you sometime wonder if you have “a problem child”?

Perhaps you find yourself strongly questioning your parenting skills? You say to yourself afterall if I was so effective at parenting my kids would behave better. You constantly find yourself feeling frustrated or worse yet feeling like you’re failing as a parent.

Know you are not alone. Many parents at one point or another are faced with these same thoughts and feelings. Parenting in the best of times is challenging but especially when you feel like you’ve lost complete control over your children and their behaviour.

Your eight year old doesn’t listen to you. Your 11 year old rolls her eyes when you ask her to do something that you know she doesn’t need to be asked to do in the first place. Your 14 year old daughter is experimenting with alcohol or is sexually active.

What do you do to cope in these types of situations?

Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, ph.D and Cabor Mate, MD does a great job addressing the core issues in troubled parent child relationships. One of the book’s premise is based on  a growing phenomenon the authors call “peer orientation” which refers to the tendency of children to look to their peers for direction and guidance instead of their parents. This undermines parental authority and interferes with the natural and healthy development of parent-child relationship.

Peer oriented children are seeking a sense of direction from other children who are incapable of providing that guidance. Therefore a void is created in a peer oriented child’s life in the place of attachment and connection to caring and nurturing adults – parents. Another premise of the book is that the authors believe that

“parenthood is above all a relationship, not a skill to be acquired.”

In today’s world where parents receive so many conflicting messages about parenting Hold on to Your Kids brings refreshing and real perspective.

It can be overwhelming and confusing at times for parents to see the forest from the trees when it comes to their child’s behavioural problems. There is much being written and publicized in the media about “problem children” or children suffering from “ADHD” or some other childhood disorder. In a the cookie cutter school system that doesn’t often take individuality in to consideration it can be easy to label a child who doesn’t fit the mold. Many children end up being misdiagnosed and put on very powerful medications.

“They assume complex behaviour problems of many children can be explained by genetics or miswired brain circuits. They ignore scientific evidence that the human brain is shaped by the environment from birth throughout the lifetime and that attachment relationships are the most important aspect of the child’s environment.”

Hold on to Your Kids is a book that helps you take your power back as a parent.

It gives you information and tools to help you reestablish your attachment and strengthen the relationship you may have lost with your child. This book actually advises you to pay attention to your own intuition as a parent.  The writers believe you have everything you need within you to naturally attach to and parent your child in the best way and for their highest good. There are no new skills to learn here. What you need to do is focus on the relationship you have with your child. Find ways to reconnect. It is ALL about the relationship.

Some ideas and ways of reconnecting with your child and strengthening your relationship from Hold on to Your Kids


1. Get in the child’s face or space in a friendly way

The idea here is twofold. The first is to be in your child’s space, physically speaking in a positive way and the second is to have a friendly, positive interaction with them. When children are small it is easier to do this. We literally “get in their face” and smile and talk to them, cuddle and hold them. It is easy to do this when they’re little. However as they get older it seems as though the only time we get in their face and space is when they’re doing something we don’t like. As well we tend to be less affectionate towards older children even though they need us just as much as they did when they were younger.

2. Provide Something for the child to hold on to

“Attention and interest are powerful primers of connection. Signs of affection are potent. Researchers have identified emotional warmth, enjoyment and delight at the top of the list as effective activators of attachment. If we have a twinkle in our eye and some warmth in our voice, we invite connection that most children will not turn down. Hugs and embraces were designed for children to hold on to, and can warm up a child long after the hug is over.”

3. Invite Dependence

Children come to us completely dependent. As they get older and mature they become more independent. That said it seems more and more that parents want their kids to become independent perhaps too soon. “Only when the dependence needs are met does the quest for true independence begin.” The authors advocate about the need to let kids grow at their own pace. In instances such as toilet training, being tucked in at bedtime, reading together or whatever the milestone maybe, don’t try to push your kids to become independent before they’re ready.

4. Act as the child’s compass point

“Since children depend on us to get their bearings, we must assume the role of compass point and act as their guide.” This could be simple as introducing them to a friend, showing them how something works, or educating them on a certain topic. The idea here is that children need guidance and direction often and we need to be the ones providing that for them. We can not leave that responsibility to anyone else. This is basically part of assuming our authority and responsibility as a parent.

Please share your questions and comments and experienced below. What are the challenges you are facing as a parent right now? What have you found most helpful in your parenting journey? Do you pay a lot of attention to your intuition in your parenting? How has that helped you?

If you found this article helpful please share it on facebook or twitter. Thank you. Wishing you many blessings and peace.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

judy jbrittain August 8, 2016 at 6:40 am

Hey, great share…..

Hold on to Your Kids looks like an amazing books to read. I really liked the review and eagerly waiting to read this.

Thanks for sharing this post. Keep sharing more….


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: