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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Audiobook Review: Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Gabor Maté, M.D.

PUBLISHER: Post Hypnotic Press Audiobooks
PUBLICATION DATE: 2012 (first published 2004)
FORMAT: Unabridged MP3 Digital Download, 12 hrs and 17 mins
GENRE: Non-fiction, Family and Relationships
ISBN: 9781927401255
Like countless other parents, doctors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté have had to confront their children becoming secretive and unreachable. Focused more and more on their friends, they recoiled or grew hostile around adults. Why? The problem, Neufeld suggest, lies in attachment; children are increasingly forming stronger attachments to their friends than to the adults in their lives.

Dr. Neufeld has dubbed this phenomenon peer orientation, which refers to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for a sense of right and wrong, for values, identity and codes of behaviour. This peer orientation undermines family cohesion, poisons the school atmosphere, and fosters an aggressively hostile and sexualized youth culture. It provides a powerful explanation for schoolyard bullying and youth violence; its effects are painfully evident in the context of teenage gangs and criminal activity, in tragedies such as in Littleton, Colorado; Tabor, Alberta and Victoria, B.C. It is an escalating trend that has never been adequately described or contested until Hold On to Your Kids. Once understood, it becomes self-evident - as do the solutions, none of which are impossible or even costly to undertake.

Hold On to Your Kids will restore parenting to its natural intuitive basis and the parent-child relationship to its rightful preeminence. The concepts, principles and practical advice contained in Hold On to Your Kids will empower parents to parent and satisfy their children’s inborn need to find direction by turning towards them for their source of authority, contact and warmth.

Daniel Maté’s warm and sensitive narration, gift with dialogue, and engagement with the authors writing make this an enjoyable and informative listen.


I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

This is an invaluable resource for any parent who is concerned about the effects of peers on their children.

The advice given by Drs. Neufeld and Maté really resonated with me, and it validated my instinctual parenting practices. I have always been a proponent of attachment parenting, and I consider my children's attachment bond to me (and vice versa) to be extremely strong. However, this book still gave me some useful advice on what I can do to improvement our relationship even further. I found the psychology of attachment as explained by the authors to be very interesting.

As a mother, I am extremely concerned about the influence of peers. It is harder to be kid nowadays than it was when I was growing up. This book holds the key to helping parents to foster the attachment to the parent and not to the peers. For most parents, the desire to foster attachment to babies is automatic: They respond to a baby’s needs, soothe and comfort the baby as needed, talk to baby about what is in her environment to help the baby relate to what is around her, and so forth. As the baby passes on into the toddler stage, many parents feel that the child needs to interact with other children so that they “learn to get along with others.” The torch of teaching is unwittingly passed, so to speak, from the parent to a child's peers at any early age and the child is put into situations (for example, through play-dates and daycare) where they are expected to attach to their peers. The authors explain why socializing is not equivalent to socialization:

“The belief that socializing begets socialization persists in the absence of any evidence to support it. Despite its popularity, this assumption cannot stand up to even the most cursory examination. If socializing with peers led to getting along and to becoming responsible members of society, the more time a child spent with her peers, the better the relating would tend to be. In actual fact, the more children spend time with each other, the less likely they are to get along and the less likely they are to fit into civil society. If we take the socialization assumption to the extreme – to orphanage children, street children, children involved in gangs – the flaw in thinking becomes obvious. If socializing were the key to socialization, gangs and street kids would be model citizens.”

Drs. Neufeld and Maté discuss a study conducted by Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner and his research team at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York which found that “the children who preferred spending time with their parents demonstrated many more of the characteristics of positive sociability” compared to the children who gravitated to their peers. “The kids that spent the most time with each other are the most likely to get into trouble.” Not surprising! 

The authors are not against peer bonds but suggest that the manner in which they are made (socialization via maturation versus socialization via attachment) is the key:

"True social integration requires not only a mixing with others but a mixing without losing one's separateness or identity." 

The authors also describe a process of “collecting” our children or making a connection with them at the outset of each interaction with them. I know that I have sometimes asked my children multiple times to do something and they say “okay” but still don’t do it! It is so frustrating! If I follow the advice of the authors, I should “get in the child’s face – or space – in a friendly way” which entails making a connection with the child through eye contact, trying to evoke a smile, and if possible a nod of the head. Rather than calling from the kitchen and asking one of my kids to do something, I should go to the child to “collect” her first: Get her attention and establish eye contact (a touch on the shoulder or bending down to eye level makes it easier), try to evoke a smile and a nod of the head (I might say something like, “That game sure looks like a lot of fun!” which will probably get a smile and maybe even a nod of the head). Once I have “collected” her and have her attention, I can ask her to do whatever it was that I needed her to do: “Could you please go downstairs for me and bring up a jug of milk from the refrigerator?” It takes a little bit more effort on my part, but it also saves me the headache of asking my kids to do something repeatedly with no response. It is such a simple thing, yet very effective.

Collecting the child in this manner is the first step in trying to re-establish a connection to a child who is already showing signs of “peer orientation,” where peer bonds have replaced parental bonds. There is an entire section of the book devoted to educating the parent on how to reclaim the child.

The information is presented in a manner that is very easy to follow, and the authors include real-life examples for further emphasis. This book should be required reading for all parents! Highly recommended!

The narrator of the book is Daniel Maté. His pace was very good, and his style was engaging. My only complaint is that there is often “dead air” at the end of each chapter. The first time it happened, I had to glance down at my iPod because I thought the battery was dead. No, it was just dead air. It was as long as 44 seconds in one instance! Other than that, there were no technical glitches.

5 stars!! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it! Thanks to Post Hypnotic Press and Audiobook Jukebox for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as: 


  1. Awesome review! I am definitely going to look for this one.

    1. Thanks, Kelly! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


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