Aug 16 2012
In their parenting book Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, author and physician Gabor Mate and psychologist Gordon Neufeld collaborate to address one of the most pervasive problems that parents experience today. They connect the deterioration of the attachment relationship between parent and child with everything from inattentiveness in children, impulsive and disruptive behavior to all kinds of psychological disorders and even the rise in bullying and youth suicide.
The first three sections of the book diagnose the problem. The tendency for children to orient to their peers in place of their parents provides a far less stable emotional and psychological background against which they live their early lives and develop their sense of self. This trend stunts healthy development and children remain immature longer. In the first place, the influence of the parent is undermined and their authority is eroded. Children become less teachable, and they also become hardened inwardly â€“ less vulnerable. Further down the road these children may act out aggressively and sexually, but without the maturity to secure the meaningful attachments they seek.
Mate and Neufeld paint a wide and bleak picture of childhood that can make a parent reader feel, at first, hopeless and overwhelmed with the challenges at hand. After all, our entire culture is geared in a way that drives children towards their peers and away from parental influence.Â But the doctors also offer a through explanation of how and why these problems develop, which arms the parent with understanding. Finally, the last two sections of the book offer solutions: how to reattach with a child who is already peer-oriented, and how to prevent these problems in the first place.
This is one of the most overarchingly helpful parenting books Iâ€™ve read (and Iâ€™ve read lots) because it just makes so much sense in the context of our society and because it provides a helpful paradigm shift, a new way of seeing the parent-child relationship and how it affects so many aspects of family life and our childrenâ€™s lives.
This review is brought to you by Danica, Mom to two girls (9 and 8)