“Hold On to Your Kids” introduces the concept of “peer orientation” and how to reconnect with your children

Those of you who have known me for sometime, know that my passion is in helping individuals, couples and families. A lot of us have had unstable childhoods and we try our best with the information we have available to us at the time, but some cycles are hard to break… behaviour is a big challenges for most people, add in different communication styles and we have can have a dogs breakfast. My work is really in education and implementation in hope that people experience more pleasure and less pain in life. In this newsletter I start with the purest bond of all, the attachment with a child.

I understand that the challenges of parenting in today’s world can often leave us feeling confused and overwhelmed. In a rapidly changing society, it is easy to question how we can truly connect with our children and ensure they grow up feeling secure and loved.

Today, I want to share some valuable insights inspired by the book “Hold on to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté. This book delves into the impact of social changes in childcare for young children, and it offers a roadmap for building strong attachments with your kids, even in the face of modern challenges.

1. Early Separation from Parents: In today’s fast-paced world, it is common for children to spend a significant amount of time away from their parents due to daycare, preschool, and extracurricular activities. This early separation can disrupt the natural parent-child attachment. We must be aware of this and find ways to maintain strong connections.

2. Peer Orientation: “Hold On to Your Kids” introduces the concept of “peer orientation,” where children become more emotionally attached to their same-age peers rather than their parents. This shift can occur when children spend excessive time apart from their families. Understanding this concept is vital for regaining influence in your child’s life.

3. Challenges of Peer-Oriented Attachment: Peer-oriented attachment can lead to various challenges, including behavioural issues, emotional instability, and difficulties in forming meaningful relationships with adults. It is crucial to address these challenges by prioritising parental connections.

4. The Importance of Parental Attachment: The book underscores that strong parental attachment is fundamental to a child’s emotional security, self-esteem, and resilience. Your role as a parent matter immensely in your child’s development.

5. Quality Over Quantity: While modern life often dictates busy schedules, it is the quality of time spent with your child that matters most. Being truly present, engaged, and emotionally available during the time you have together is what fosters a strong bond.

6. Parental Influence: As parents, you are the primary influencers in your child’s life. Your guidance, support, and mentorship help them navigate the world around them. Note: Looking back at your own attachments may help

7. Balancing Social Changes: Recognise that societal changes have brought about the need for childcare and early education. However, the book advocates for a balanced approach where parents remain central in their child’s life, maintaining a strong emotional bond despite these changes.

8. Rebuilding Attachment: If you are facing challenges due to early separation or peer orientation, the book offers strategies for rebuilding attachment. It involves reestablishing a strong emotional bond and prioritising the parent-child relationship. Note: I have written a story to help understand how we can improve our attachments with our children

In the book “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, the concept of “polar attachments” or “vertical attachments” is discussed as a fundamental aspect of healthy parent-child relationships. The authors argue that in traditional societies, children naturally formed strong attachments to their parents, creating a “vertical” bond. However, they propose that modern society has shifted towards “horizontal” attachments, where children become more attached to their peers than to their parents. Here is what the book says about polar attachments:

1.    Traditional Vertical Attachments: The book contrasts traditional societies, where children primarily formed attachments to their parents and other adult caregivers. In these societies, parents played a central role in a child’s life, providing guidance, security, and emotional connection.

2.    Shift to Horizontal Attachments: The authors argue that in contemporary society, there has been a shift towards horizontal attachments, where children prioritise their relationships with peers over their relationships with parents. This shift can lead to a range of challenges, including behavioural problems, emotional instability, and a lack of parental influence.

3.    Peer-Oriented Culture: The book suggests that the rise of peer-oriented culture, driven by factors such as increased time spent with peers, early entry into group settings like daycare and school, and the influence of media and technology, has contributed to the shift away from vertical attachments.

4.    Impact on Parent-Child Relationships: The authors contend that this shift towards horizontal attachments can weaken the parent-child bond. When children are more attached to their peers, they may be less receptive to parental guidance and influence. This can lead to parents feeling disconnected and struggling to maintain a meaningful connection with their children.

5.    Importance of Reestablishing Polar Attachments: “Hold On to Your Kids” emphasises the importance of reestablishing strong vertical attachments between parents and children. The authors believe that doing so is essential for a child’s emotional security, healthy development, and resilience.

6.    Strategies for Reconnection: The book offers strategies for parents to reestablish vertical attachments. These strategies involve spending quality time with children, nurturing open communication, providing emotional support, setting appropriate boundaries, and actively engaging in their lives as mentors and role models.

In summary, the concept of polar attachments or vertical attachments in “Hold On to Your Kids” highlights the shift in modern society away from traditional parent-child relationships and towards peer-oriented attachments. The book emphasises the importance of recognising and addressing this shift to ensure that parents can maintain strong emotional connections with their children, thereby fostering their emotional well-being and development.

Creating a secure attachment with your children requires effort and patience. You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the demands of parenting in today’s world. By implementing these insights and strategies, you can strengthen the emotional connection with your child, ensuring their well-being and resilience.

I am here to support you on this journey. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need guidance in nurturing these essential parent-child connections.

Wishing you strength and success in building secure attachments with your children.

Her is a story to help with communication moving forward, whilst I have used a female name in this story, please feel free to apply a male name or a non-binary person as the adult in this story.

Once upon a time in a bustling neighbourhood, there lived a dedicated mother named Sarah and her bright-eyed, curious son, Ethan. Sarah had read the book “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, and she was determined to build a strong bond with her child, despite the challenges posed by a peer-oriented culture.

One sunny afternoon, as Ethan returned home from school, Sarah decided to put some of the book’s strategies into action. She wanted to make sure her connection with her son remained unbreakable, even in a world where peer influence seemed to dominate.

First, Sarah decided to spend quality time with Ethan. She put her phone aside and engaged in a heartfelt conversation with him. They talked about his day at school, his dreams, and his fears. Ethan felt heard and valued, knowing that his mother was fully present with him.

Open communication was another key strategy Sarah embraced. She created an environment where Ethan felt comfortable sharing his thoughts and feelings. She listened without judgment and provided a safe space for him to express himself openly. This encouraged honesty and trust in their relationship.

Physical affection was never neglected in their household. Sarah showered Ethan with hugs, kisses, and cuddles. These moments of physical closeness reassured Ethan of his mother’s love and care. He felt secure and cherished.

Sarah also maintained consistent routines and age-appropriate boundaries. She explained the reasons behind rules and consequences, helping Ethan understand the importance of structure while nurturing their trust.

Quality over quantity became a guiding principle for Sarah. She realised that it was not about filling every moment with activities but making the time they spent together meaningful and memorable. She cherished their shared experiences.

Recognising her role as the primary influencer in Ethan’s life, Sarah continued to provide guidance, support, and mentorship. She served as a positive role model, and her actions spoke volumes about the values she held dear.

As Ethan grew, Sarah encouraged his independence. She allowed him to explore, make age-appropriate decisions, and learn from his experiences. This empowered him to develop a sense of autonomy while knowing his mother was there to support him.

Whenever Ethan achieved something, no matter how small, Sarah celebrated his accomplishments. She acknowledged his efforts, boosting his self-esteem and motivating him to keep striving for success.

Respecting Ethan’s individuality was crucial to Sarah. She recognised his unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses, never pushing him into paths that did not align with his true self. This respect strengthened their connection.

Sarah also taught Ethan the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions. When she made mistakes or reacted inappropriately, she did not hesitate to apologise. This modelled humility and accountability.

Through patience and dedication, Sarah and Ethan embarked on a journey to build a strong parent-child attachment. They understood that trust and connection took time to develop fully. Together, they faced the challenges of a peer-oriented culture, confident in their unbreakable bond.

And so, in the heart of their bustling neighbourhood, Sarah and Ethan continued to navigate life’s adventures, their love and attachment stronger than ever, as they held on to each other in a world where children and parents were learning to rediscover the power of their connection.


Warm regards,

Darleen Barton Family Therapist and Meditation Practitioner

Brochure and what others have experienced- https://tinyurl.com/u9xwmj9z