Being a parent is hard. Children have not changed for the worse, but the culture and context of parenting have become a challenge. In Hold on to Your Kids, authors Gabor Maté and Gordon Neufeld argue that peers have become the primary influence on children’s behavior, leading to numerous social and emotional challenges.
Attachment: The Foundation of Parenting
Attachment is a primal bond that forms between a child and their primary caregivers. This bond is established through physical touch, eye contact, and emotional attunement. Children are born with a strong need for attachment, and their survival depends on their ability to form a strong bond with their caregivers. However, parental attachment has been replaced by peer attachment in recent times, which has become a problem.
The Troubles of Peer Orientation
For the first time in history, young people are turning to their peers for instruction and guidance, not to responsible adults that they model. This shift can have negative consequences for children’s emotional development, as peer relationships do not provide the same level of emotional support, guidance, and security as a strong attachment with a caregiver. Signs of peer-orientation include an insatiable hunger for acceptance, an obsession with instant messaging, and disdain for adult values such as schoolwork and learning.
Vulnerability is the Enemy
In groups of peer-oriented teenagers, vulnerability is the enemy. It is attacked wherever it is perceived, even in a best friend. This hampers the individualization of peer-oriented kids, making it hard to find a sense of self when creativity, exploration, and vulnerability are frowned upon by the peer group.
How to Hold on to Your Kids
To promote individuation, we need to provide a sense of belonging and unity. To foster independence, we must first invite dependence. For the child to separate, we must assume the responsibility to keep the child close. Attachment needs to be satiated so that the child does not need to work to get his needs met for contact and closeness. Connection before direction is essential.
Hold on to Your Kids is a must-read for parents who want to improve their relationship with their children and reclaim their authority. It provides tools to address the foundational attachment needs of children, rather than just managing their symptoms. As a parent, I found this book both enlightening and frightening, but ultimately, it was a helpful tool that gave me a better understanding of my children’s needs.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5
Further Reading – Gabor Maté
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Review
- This book examines addiction from a holistic perspective, exploring how addiction is often rooted in childhood trauma and societal factors. Maté draws on his experience as a physician who has worked with drug addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and shares stories of his patients to illustrate his points.
- This book delves into the world of attention deficit disorder (ADD), exploring how it manifests in individuals and how it can impact their lives. Maté argues that ADD is not solely a genetic condition, but can be influenced by factors such as childhood trauma, environmental toxins, and parenting styles.
When the Body Says No – Review
- This book explores the link between emotional stress and physical illness, drawing on both scientific research and personal anecdotes. Maté argues that repressed emotions and unaddressed trauma can lead to a variety of physical ailments, and emphasizes the importance of addressing the mind-body connection in healing.