Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté
This book has been the most important book in my parenting life.
Neufeld and Maté raise a challenge that parents be the people that their children are primarily attached to even through the adolescent years. They dismantle the idea that kids naturally shift their attachment to peers and that we should let them. Rather, they soundly argue that we should do everything in our power to keep the focus of kids’ attachment.
Neufeld and Maté make a strong case for the idea that our children’s peers are not mature enough to be a focal point for their primary attachment. If our children become peer-focused, then their primary attachment is inherently insecure. This leads to a state of chronic psychological fatigue as the child or adolescent seeks an unconditional connection from a source that cannot provide it. In such a context, a child cannot safely navigate the developmental challenges of establishing his or her own sense of self.
If there is one parenting book that I wish my clients who are parents and the parents of my clients would read, it is this one. Critical developmental steps are being missed in a huge percentage of an entire generation because they are growing up without a sufficient stable attachment. Psychotherapists are seeing it in their offices all the time and are trying to teach psychological flexibility and maturity in clients who were very likely peer-oriented and missed out on the stable attachment. So do your kids this favor. Buy this book. Read this book. Allow yourself to be challenged by this book. And heed its title; hold on to your kids. Don’t let their attachment slip away from you. This will be the best gift you can ever give them.
Now, I would be remiss if I did not warn you that Neufeld and Maté are presenting far more than a parenting strategy. Their book challenges our entire economic and educational systems alongside attitudes about childcare. Their hope is to call into question all the factors that contribute to us, as a society, entrusting the care of our children to people other than parents and primary guardians. Reading their critique of and vision for a new way of conceptualizing raising children is challenging and overwhelming. I can get a little depressed in discussions like this because the vision is so broad that I loose hope. But as Neufeld and Mate unfold their case, they bring it back to the relationship in a deeply stirring way. My blog this month is a way I have attempted to give an accessible application to Neufeld and Mate’s concepts. (CLICK HERE to read “The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Got….”)