Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

NEW 2024 edition purchase info: We do not sell Hold On to Your Kids directly on our website – instead, please follow the links below to purchase the 2024 English edition on Amazon.

This book by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, with writing help from Dr. Gabor Maté, is about the pivotal importance of children’s relationships to those responsible for them and the devastating impact in today’s society of competing attachments with peers. However, it is much more than a book on peer orientation: it is about parenting with relationship in mind. This book restores parents to their natural intuition, confronting such relationship-devastating devices as time-outs and using what children care about against them.

Offering effective strategies for preserving and restoring the child-to-parent relationship, this book provides refreshing natural alternatives to today’s contrived methods of behaviour control. The content is relevant to parents of children of any age, from infants right through to adult children. Readers have commonly commented on how much hardship and confusion they could have avoided had this material been available to them right from the beginning.

Hold On to Your Kids is the rare book that has become more, rather than less, relevant as the years have passed. Dr. Neufeld’s highly readable exploration of the phenomenon of peer orientation–what it is, how it impedes healthy development and what we can do to reverse its adverse effects–has transformed the lives of many families with its vital message. 

The original edition was released in 2004; just before the emergence of Facebook and other social media. In retrospect, the book amply foreshadowed, but could not fully have pictured, the impact of the digital revolution that followed. The book was re-released in 2013 with additional chapters on raising children in a digital world.

The book was re-released once again in 2024 with an additional chapter on the roots of the current crisis of mental health in our children.  This chapter was necessitated by the shocking revelation coming out of the pandemic that an alarming number of children are suffering from mental health issues. Without the insights provided by this book, experts were wrongly assuming that the problem was isolation from their peers, the opposite of what was the case. This chapter explores the roots of emotional well-being and confirms the paramount importance of the healthy child-adult relationships. 

Hold On to Your Kids has now been translated in over thirty-five languages. See below for a partial list of available translations, with links to publishers.

Study Guide

Created in October 2021, the Hold On to Your Kids Study Guide includes chapter-by-chapter discussion questions as well as an abundant collection of additional resources.

Visit our Study Guides page to request a FREE copy.

Book Introduction & Excerpt

We invite you to read Dr. Urška Žugelj’s introduction to the Slovenian translation of Hold On to Your Kids. She is a professor of attachment in Europe and a Neufeld Institute faculty intern. She conveys the book’s essence beautifully, explaining its uniqueness, relevance, and importance.

To download Chapter One of the second edition (the Canadian paperback and American publications), click here.

We hope this introduction and excerpt will give you enough of the feel and content of the book that you will be able to judge whether it is worth your time and energy to read. If it whets your appetite for more, the full edition can be purchased from the links above, or found at a bookstore near you.

Reviews & Testimonials

…meticulous exploration of the problem… numerous solutions for reestablishing a caring adult hierarchy. Beautifully written, this terrific, poignant book is already a bestseller in Canada.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

…visionary book that goes beyond the usual explanations to illuminate a crisis of unrecognized proportions.

Peter A. Levine Ph.D., International teacher and author of the best selling books: Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma and It Won’t Hurt Forever, Guiding Your Child through Trauma

The thoughts and perspectives presented by the authors are informative — even inspirational — for those who choose to dedicate their lives and energy to students.

Bulletin of the National Association of Secondary School Principals

With original insights on parent-child attachments and how parents can restore them, this is a book for revitalizing families and rekindling the song in their children’s hearts.

Raffi, children’s troubadour, founder of Child Honoring Society Institute

His approach has the power to change, if not save, the lives of our children.

National Post

Rare and refreshing. . . . Here you will find family stories, an accessible description of brain development and sound information. You will also find hope.

The Globe and Mail

The authors present doable strategies to help parents help their kids. If their advice is taken to heart, there’s hope there will be more warmth and security all round.

The Georgia Straight

Your book has transformed my life and my parenting. The most incredible thing is that once I started following your suggestions, my daughter’s behaviour changed almost immediately. I am so convinced of the soundness and naturalness of your ideas that I have sent information about the book to all of my friends and family members – not just parents, but also teachers and people who have children in their lives generally.

A wonderful book and a powerful wakeup call to parents.

The Mall

This book represents a great step forward in grasping the sorrow and suffering that our kids are experiencing. Gordon Neufeld locates this suffering in the child’s loss of attachment to parents and increasing preoccupation with peers. Neufeld’s mind is powerful, capable of understanding the disastrous direction in which our culture is going. This is a brilliant book on the level of Paul Goodman’s Growing Up Absurd. Give a copy of this book to every parent you know.

Robert Bly, poet and author of The Sibling Society and Iron John

I thoroughly enjoyed your book on holding onto your kids. I have never read a more informative book on parenting ever. As a child who did not connect with my parents I was passing this legacy onto my children with little success of reaching my six year old daughter. She was well on her way to the eyeball rolling attitude you describe in your book. Lately I have implemented some of your techniques and have met with great results. I feel your book is ahead of its time and have recommended it for Dr. Laura’s “reading corner” online. I really hope you’ll write more books and enlighten parents in the future. Thank you!!!

I am weeping with relief, feeling truly understood for the first time in 60 years. I feel like I think Helen Keller may have felt when she suddenly had language to articulate her inner life. I can feel a lifetime logjam of anger and frustration loosening and letting go. Thank you.

As important as are Dr. Neufeld’s insights into how peers can replace parents, even more valuable is the comprehensive framework for understanding psychological/emotional development that he outlines. These insights alone were more than worth the price of the book and truly answer why parents matter. This book is more comprehensive and more in-depth than any other I’ve ever read.

As a counselor, parenting coach and mother of four, I was reading it from both a professional and personal perspective and found it hit home in many areas. It’s one of the best books on parenthood that I have read in a long time.

Your work has been of enormous benefit to all of us who have children or who work with kids in schools, etc. The biggest change may be in having HOPE that eroded relationships can be rebuilt, or that tentative relationships with our kids can be strengthened in enduring ways.

Table of Contents

This is the outline for the fourth edition of the book (released in 2024). It is the same as the third edition except for the addition of Chapter 21 – In the Wake of the Pandemic: Peer Orientation and Mental Health.



The Phenomenon of Peer Orientation
1 — Why Parents Matter More Than Ever
2 — Skewed Attachments, Subverted Instincts
3 — Why We’ve Come Undone


Sabotaged: How Peer Orientation Undermines Parenting
4 — The Power to Parent Is Slipping Away
5 — From Help Turned to Hinderance: When Attachment Works Against Us
6 — Counterwill: Why Children Become Disobedient
7 — The Flatlining of Culture


Stuck in Immaturity: How Peer Orientation Stunts Heathy Development
8 — The Dangerous Flight from Feeling
9 — Stuck in Immaturity
10 — A Legacy of Aggression
11 — The Making of Bullies and Victims
12 — A Sexual Turn
13 — Unteachable Students


How to Hold On to Our Kids (or How to Reclaim Them)
14 — Collecting Our Children
15 — Preserve the Ties That Empower
16 — Discipline That Does Not Divide


Preventing Peer Orientation
17 — Don’t Court the Competition
18 — Re-create the Attachment Village


A Postscript for the Digital Age
19 — The Digital Revolution Bent Out of Shape
20 — A Matter of Timing
21 — In the Wake of the Pandemic: Peer Orientation and Mental Health


English Editions

released 2024Fourth Edition
A chapter was added on the attachment roots of well-being with special focus on the role of peer orientation in mental health. With current sensitivities regarding the mental health of children, if this book was written now rather than twenty years ago, it probably would have begun with this topic as the starting theme. We would have then followed up with the implications of improperly aligned attachment instincts of children on parenting and teaching. In Canada, the publisher is Vintage Canada and is available in most major Canadian bookstores. It can be purchased through amazon.ca. The ISBN is 978-0-307-36196-7. The book is 368 pages in length. In the United States, the publisher is Ballantine Books (a division of Random House) of New York. The paperback is available, or can be ordered, in most major bookstores in the United States and on the internet through amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. ISBN: 978-0-375-76028-0 (paperback), ISBN: 978-0-307-48596-0 (eBook). In the United Kingdom, the publisher is Vermilion (a division of Penguin Random House UK). ISBN:978-1-785-04219-5 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-4735-6317-9 (eBook), ISBN: 978-1-473-59367-1 (audio download).
released 2013Third Edition
When the original edition was released in 2004, it was just before the emergence of Facebook and other social media. In retrospect, the book amply foreshadowed, but could not fully have pictured, the impact of the digital revolution that followed. In fact, is is impossible to make sense of the shape of the digital universe without a working knowledge of the constructs of attachment and peer orientation that are the subject of the book. With this in mind, the book was re-released in 2013 with two additional chapters on raising children in a digital world.
Second Edition
The objective of the second edition was to create a shorter manuscript that was more accessible to the general readership. According to reader response, this goal was successfully accomplished. This second edition is two chapters and some 20,000 words less and has been reorganized so that the reader does not have to wait so long to get to the how to parts. This is the edition that has been translated into most of the other languages. The second edition was only ever available in paperback. It is this second edition that has been translated into most of the other languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Swedish, Norwegian, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Hungarian and Portuguese (both Brazilian and Portugal versions)
out of print, available usedFirst Edition
Despite the advantages of the second edition, the first edition has a committed following of readers who prefer to get the full gist of Dr. Neufeld's logical arguments and the full enjoyment of Dr. Mate's eloquent writing style. Unfortunately this edition is now out of print but used books are available through the internet. ISBN:0676974716. The original edition is published by Knopf Canada in hardcover under the title: Hold On To Your Kids: why parents matter. This edition was never published in the United States.


Arabicتمسك بأطفالك: لماذا يحتاج الآباء إلى أكثر من أقرانهم
BulgarianДръжте се на децата си: Защо родителите трябва да са по-важни от връстниците си
Chinese (Simplified)紧紧抓住你的孩子:为什么父母需要比同龄人更多
CroatianBudite Tu Za Svoju Djecu
CzechDrzte Si Své Deti
DanishDit barn har brug for DIG
DutchLaat je kind niet los
FrenchRetrouver son rôle de parent
Currently out of print
GermanUnsere Kinder Brauchen Uns: Wie Eltern Sich Ihre Rolle Zurückerobern
GreekΚρατήστε τα παιδιά σας: Γιατί οι γονείς πρέπει να έχουν μεγαλύτερη σημασία από τους συνομηλίκους
Hebrewאיחזו בילדכם
HungarianA család ereje
ItalianI vostri figli hanno bisogno di voi: Perché i genitori oggi contano più che mai
Korean아이의 손을 놓지 마라
LithuanianNepraraskime savo vaikų. Kodėl ryšys su vaiku toks svarbus, kokie pavojai jam gresia
NorwegianVær til stede i ditt barns liv
Portuguese (Brazilian)Pais Ocupados, Filhos Distantes
Portuguese (Portugal)O seu filho precisa de si
RomanianȚine-te de copiii tăi
RussianНЕ УПУСКАЙТЕ СВОИХ ДЕТЕЙ. Почему родители должны быть важнее, чем ровесники
SerbianBUDITE OSLONAC SVOJOJ DECI: Zašto Roditelji Moraju Biti Važniji Od Vršnjaka
SlovakDržte sa svojich detí
SlovenianOTROCI NAS POTREBUJEIO: Zakaj so starši pomembnejši od vrstnikov
SpanishRegreso al Vínculo Familiar
SwedishVåga ta plats i ditt barns liv
Currently out of print
TurkishÇocuklarınıza Tutunun
UkrainianТримайтеся за своїх дітей