“Hold On To Your Kids”

The above title is a book that I have recently found and devoured. This book has captured what I have been feeling for years: Because of societal upheavals, busy parents, and the distraction of technology, our children are increasingly looking to their peers for guidance, their ideals , and their codes of behavior. Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D, and Gabor Mate, M.D., explains the disintegration of our parental influence and shows ways to “reattach” to our children, realize the power we have as parents , and earn back our children’s loyalty and love. We as parents are up against so much. I kept reading, thinking, “Wow. So true, right on!”

Here are two powerful reviews from Amazon:

“I’m so happy to review this book because it absolutely changed my life and my daughter’s life forever! I will be honest with you and tell you that I was at my wit’s end. My 13 year old, who used to be a sweet kid became constantly defiant and depressed at home. The kid who obviously loved me, now ignored me and rolled her eyes. Her grades were suffering and she began stitching into her skin during school. This is when someone sews shapes into their skin with a needle and thread. So I got this book.’

“I read the book very quickly because it resonated so strongly with all I was going through. Our society values peer influence so highly and at such a superficial level that we are losing our kids to isolation and hopelessness disguised by technology and unhealthy friendships.’

“I pulled my daughter out of school in her last semester of 7th grade. This meant that she would have to repeat 7th grade and be a year behind. As a single mother with her and a baby, as well as a full-time career, I committed to homeschool her. We worked out a strange schedule of night and weekend study focused on real life skills and developing her values system. She was indignant…at first. After the first two weeks things started to ease. She began applying herself more, she softened, started taking great love and responsibility with her sister and with our home. I followed the advice of the book and rebuilt our relationship and the tenderness we have for each other. She was honest with me! She broke down and told me about all her fears and walls.’

“The girl that just wanted to be on the internet or texting in bed was now going to the gym several times a week, going for walks with the kids around the neighborhood, volunteering to help younger students learn to read and really working on improving our family relationships. She stopped yelling at me and ignoring me!! She reached a healthy weight, she was way too skinny.’

“During that one school year we did two years of work and caught her up. She entered high school today, right on schedule! She held my hand as we drove to the bus stop. She was excited about meeting new kids and really applying herself at school. This week she received an award for her volunteer service over the past year. Also, on a daily basis, I have people tell me what a remarkable and intelligent child I have. Last year, she was depressed and aloof, people were concerned about her.’

“Reading this book led me to make a very difficult decision that I thought was absolutely beyond my capacity as a mother. I believe if I hadn’t put her first and done everything I could to get her away from her unhealthy friendships that I would’ve lost her forever and her academic possibilities and life possibilities would have suffered severely. No one agreed that I was doing the right thing! (The school, her father, my mother, no one understood why I needed to this.) This book gives practical step-by-step instructions to get your kids back from unhealthy destructive behaviors that are becoming more and more prevalent as a result of our current culture. If you are losing your child to her friends, act fast and be brave. It was the best decision I ever made.”

The second review on Amazon:

“I’m a physician. An M.D. I’ve raised 3 children, ages 33, 30, and 28. I’ve struggled through multiple drug abuse with one child, and gross insecurity in 2 others. Although I have been a believer for several years in unconditional love, I struggled with the application in my relationships. Until this book. A parenting book that explains unconditional acceptance. With the book half-finished, convicted of its truth, and with tears in my eyes, I began practicing unconditional acceptance with my children several months ago as I slowly digested the remainder of the book. The rewards, especially with my child who was a drug addict for 14 years, have been nothing short of miraculous. If you buy only one book on parenting in your life buy this one.”

Hold on to your Kids was written in 2006, but it is so applicable as the world gets more skewed. It is a somewhat dense read, repeats itself, and has small text. I wanted to warn you it is not an easy read, but the insights of its authors have knocked me off my feet. I would like to review some of its principles in the next few posts. The idea of focusing on the relationship between me and my child, instead of the behavior of the child, has already impacted my relationships with my adult children. Instead of being reactive to behavior, I am finding myself being proactive in nurturing these relationships. On the back cover, one sentence says, “This book will empower parents to be for their children what nature intended: a true source of contact, security, and warmth.” This sentence resonates with me so much, and I am grateful for these brilliant insights that are inspiring me and reminding me of the power I have as a parent to connect with and impact my children in a positive way.

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