Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

genre: non-fiction, parenting

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 how this "peer attachment" can undermine parenting and what happens to children when they are learning their values from people their own age instead of from their parents and grandparents. "Bullies" and their tactics are pieced apart. But not only do we read the gloom and doom of what can happen to peer-oriented children - the entire last section is how, if they're already "lost," we can win them back. And if we still have our children attached to us, we learn ways to help them be truly independent and mature young adults.

The structure of the book is very linear - the lead author makes a generalized point and then several smaller sections expound on different portions of that general point. This worked for me, but some folks might find it pretty repetitive. I usually need that in non-fiction, otherwise I forget important things. The writing is very readable and I loved all the anecdotal stories, they made the things I was learning much more concrete - even though some of the examples made me feel terrified for my children to grow up any more than they already have.

I must have underlined half of this book, I found so many statements that rang true in a new way - it took me to places in my parenting mind that I have just never thought about, at least not consciously. Some sections gave me chills, they hit so close to home. I read so slowly that I had chances to try out some of the ideas as I read and I actually saw it - I actually saw that helping my son move from anger over something into sadness over it actually dissipated their frustration.

I have already passed on the name of this book to four people. I want to pass it on to everyone. I am looking at my kids and the way I deal with them in an entirely new way. And what does that mean? It means more parenting for me. More time invested in the three people that will give me the most satisfaction in the end: my kids.


Lahni said...

I tried to read this book, I really did. I agreed with the premise but something about the writer's tone really turned me off. Somehow I felt that he was going to turn all extremist on me (probably doesn't help that the person who recommended it to me have extremist tendencies) and I just had to put it down. It sounds like I might need to give it another chance though! You don't have extremist tendencies do you? :)

Corinne said...

Ha! Lahni, no I DON'T have extremist tendencies, I don't think :)

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