Hold onto your kids

Author: Gordon Neufeld, PhD and Gabor Maté, MD

6 Hours to read

This book by Canadian developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld and physician Gabor Maté explains why connection to our kids is critical. It also offers a counter-intuitive approach to growing mature and independent adults.

Parents strive for their children to be independent. The logic they sometimes follow is that putting their youngsters into situations where they have to be independent will make them more resourceful. A sort of push-the-chicks-out-of-the-nest-so-they-learn-to-fly approach. However, if a parent frequently places the child in situations where there are only peers to turn to, or very few adults on the periphery, the guidance, love, care and discipline that our kids need is absent. Children want connection, so they bend themselves to attach to their peers.

Spoiler alert, the peers cannot provide what our children need. I believe this is one way that people-pleasers are born. This means that our kids do not grow the independence muscle. In fact, the opposite is the case and children can remain stuck in immaturity. If we adopt a reverse, and counter-intuitive, approach, we ensure there are regular situations where we are one-on-one with our kids. By doing this, we remind our children that they matter.

This is not achieved by throwing maths equations at them while driving to school. Or discussing with them how their towel may soon need to grow legs and walk to the laundry basket. This is about spending time with our kids without agenda, ideally doing something that they enjoy to build a lasting bond. This approach grows independence and maturity in our kids This is the essence of the book. And my brief description has not done it justice. However, if I were the Minister for Families and Community, I would give this out to parents free-of-charge. If you are staring down the teenage years, or just about to embark on that chapter, this book could be very helpful. I am not advocating throwing yourself under a truck and being a slave to your children. We need to maintain a sense of self.

However, our relationship with our kids is probably one of the most important relationships of our lives. This is our legacy. Stay in the game of parenting and be present to grow the adult you want in your life. Don’t exit stage left. You will always love your kids, and it would be great if you liked them as well.

I really love this book as its concept is genius. If you can’t be bothered to read it and you live in Brisbane or on the Sunshine Coast, I will happily come and give a talk about it to your group.