Like many other parents, doctors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté have had to confront their children becoming secretive and unreachable. Focused more and more on their friends, they recoiled or grew hostile around adults. Why? The problem, Neufeld suggest, lies in attachment; children are increasingly forming stronger attachments to their friends than to the adults in their lives.
Dr. Neufeld dubbed this phenomenon peer orientation, referring to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for a sense of right and wrong, for values, identity and codes of behavior. Peer orientation undermines family cohesion, poisons the school atmosphere, and fosters an hostile and sexualized youth culture. It provides a powerful explanation for schoolyard bullying and youth violence; its effects are painfully evident in the context of teenage gangs and criminal activity, in tragedies such as in Littleton, Colorado; Tabor, Alberta and Victoria, B.C. An escalating trend that has never been adequately described Hold On to Your Kids, once understood, it becomes self-evident - as do the solutions, none of which are impossible or even costly to undertake.