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Hold on to Your Kids summary

Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Maté

Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

4.5 (90 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté explores the importance of parental attachment in child development. It highlights how modern society undermines parents' role and how parents can regain their position to raise resilient children.

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    Hold on to Your Kids
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    Imprinting Your Ducklings

    Defiance, anger, yelling, destruction of property, cutting, bullying, being the victim of bullying, risky behaviors – what happened to that sweet, happy little baby that you brought into the world?

    Are you one of the millions of parents who feel like you’re failing at parenting? Have you tried all the chore charts, the disciplinary strategies, meditation and mindfulness, dietary adjustments, educational changes … to no avail?

    It can feel incredibly hopeless to love a child and see them pull away and make harmful decisions. On top of that, the guilt of your own feelings when you’re struggling to enjoy your kiddo’s company can be overwhelming. You just feel like a bad parent.

    Let’s take a step back from all the parenting strategies and advice, all the methods and tactics, and instead look at this from a different angle. Here’s a radical suggestion to consider: It doesn’t matter what you do as a parent – it matters who you are to your child.

    We’re going to dig into this idea in the course of this Blink. But first, let’s talk about attachment and orientation.

    Maybe you’ve heard of attachment theory. If you’re aware that a duckling will imprint on the first moving object it sees in the absence of its mother, then you understand attachment.

    Our babies are very similar. They attach in several different ways throughout their early life.

    The first way they attach is physically. Most of us don’t struggle to hold and kiss and snuggle our adorable babies. It’s even fun at times. But it’s also crucial to their development and serves a survival purpose – babies can’t exactly fend for themselves.

    The second way children attach happens in toddlerhood, when the child begins to imitate you. They recognize that you are their guide in life, so they model their actions and behaviors after you.

    The third form of attachment is through a sense of belonging. Your child identifies you as their person, and they want to feel they belong to you. This can also lead to obedience and loyalty.

    The fourth attachment is to feel that they’re important. A child needs to know that they matter in your life.

    The fifth form of attachment is closest to what we define as love. It’s the warm, comforting feeling we get when we’re hugged or soothed by someone we’re attached to. 

    The sixth and final form of attachment is the desire to be truly seen and known. A child who is attached to you will share their fears, curiosities, insecurities, secret longings, and other important parts of themselves. They want to be understood by you.

    Now that we’ve talked about types of attachment, let’s define orientation. This is the crux of everything else we’re going to discuss in the next sections.

    Orientation has to do with knowing where you are, who you are, and how to get where you want to go. For a child who is still forming their identity and activating the maturation process, their parent should be the compass that helps them navigate the world.

    The reason that compass has to be a parent (or an attached adult) is because children are still forming important inner structures like identity, the ability to choose responsibility over impulse, and an understanding and acceptance of the world they live in.

    Unfortunately, due to many factors including societal changes, technological shifts, and a misunderstanding of what it means to be a parent, many children are making their primary attachments with peers. This means that their compass is their peer group. 

    And that’s a problem.

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    Key ideas in Hold on to Your Kids

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    What is Hold on to Your Kids about?

    Hold on to Your Kids (2008) is an important warning to parents on the danger of allowing peer influence to dominate children’s upbringings. Backed by research, it offers parents a path to rebuilding attachment with their seemingly lost children.

    Hold on to Your Kids Review

    Hold on to Your Kids (2004) explores the importance of attachment in raising healthy, happy children and offers powerful insight into the challenges of modern parenting. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With practical strategies and advice, it provides parents with valuable tools to strengthen their bond with their children and foster healthy development.
    • By combining psychological research, personal stories, and real-life examples, the book offers a comprehensive understanding of the impact of peer orientation on child behavior.
    • Engaging and thought-provoking, the book sheds light on the issues of peer parenting, offering a fresh perspective on the role of parents in shaping their children's lives.

    Who should read Hold on to Your Kids?

    • Parents (and people considering becoming parents)
    • Children’s family members
    • Teachers and social workers

    About the Author

    Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a clinical psychologist and expert on child development and the parent-child relationship. Gabor Maté is a speaker and best-selling author of books, including Scattered Minds, on subjects ranging from addiction to attention deficit disorder to child development.

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    Hold on to Your Kids FAQs 

    What is the main message of Hold on to Your Kids?

    The main message of Hold on to Your Kids is the importance of parental attachment and connection in raising resilient and emotionally healthy children.

    How long does it take to read Hold on to Your Kids?

    The reading time for Hold on to Your Kids varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Hold on to Your Kids a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Hold on to Your Kids is essential for parents and caregivers. It provides valuable insights and strategies for nurturing strong parent-child relationships in today's digital age.

    Who is the author of Hold on to Your Kids?

    Hold on to Your Kids is written by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté.

    What to read after Hold on to Your Kids?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Hold on to Your Kids, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Good Inside by Becky Kennedy
    • The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté with Daniel Maté
    • The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene
    • Scattered Minds by Gabor Maté
    • Parenting by Andy & Sandra Stanley
    • In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté
    • Raising Good Humans by Hunter Clarke-Fields
    • Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Zero Sugar / One Month by Becky Gillaspy