I saw a program on the news the other night that has promted me to do a lot of research. It was about Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo's book "Babywise". What a temptation that book is. They promise to help get your baby on a schedule that will allow you to sleep through the night. And their child rearing books offer to give resources essential to raising Godly children.
As a mother of a newborn who would really like to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time, and as the mother of a toddler who's behavior I would like to change, these books seem sent from heaven. What mother wouldn't like more control in her home? But the thought has a negative side. Do I really want to control my children? Or do I want them to be strong individuals capable of making decisions not based on what big-bad-mommy will do, but based on their conscience and their knowledge of the will of God. How do I want them to see God? As a loving Father, or a dictator?
I pick up my child when she cries. I kiss ouchies. I am attempting to teach through example and direction. I'm not perfect, but I'm not giving up. There are a couple of great articles from a Christian perspective at the Christian research Institute. I did a search for Growing Families International and found a 15 page article with lots of documentation. It was wonderful. I also checked out the Ezzo's webpage here. The Ezzo's page seems reasonable, but it doesn't seem to discuss all of the things that they believe. It seems middle of the road, but they have other writings that are not so, and can be confusing. I have come to the conclusion that while the Ezzo's have some good ideas, they can be highly destructive and divisive. Their feeding schedules have sent many babies to the hospital and they believe that those whose ideas oppose theirs are less Christian.
A few interesting facts about the Ezzo's and their program:
Babywise is not endorsed by any lactation experts or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Despite saying that their program is backed by pediatricians, the Ezzo's refuse to name any.
Mr. Ezzo has been excommunicated from not one but two churches including the one where his program started.
The intial publishers of the Ezzo's books have discontinued it based on very real fears regarding the programs safety for infants.
Growing Kids God's Way, and the Babywise program is opposed by such solid Christian organizations as Focus On the Family.
Several original leaders of GFI left the Ezzo's organization because of concerns about integrity and the content and effect of the program on children.
There is so much more that I have found troubling about this program, and I encourage anyone who is interested to do some research. Also, I am going into prayer for the Ezzo's who are leading many really good parents away from what they know and into a system that may in fact be ultimately harmful to their children.
This is one more thing that has caused me to really think about my own parenting ideals. I have always believed that my children do not belong to me, but have only been placed temporarily in my care for teaching and love. My children are individuals with thoughts, feelings, dreams, and ideals of their own. It is my job to create an atmosphere of safety in which they can begin to explore. As they learn to make good decisions for themselves within the safe boundaries I've created, the boundaries will expand. My goal has always been to raise adults who are capable of thinking for themselves, making good decisions, and living lives in conformity to the will of God. I look forward to knowing the adults my children will become.
While I will continue to turn to scripture for answers, I must remember to be vigilant about not blindly accepting anyone's parenting plans. I will continue to evaluate my children's needs based on my own observation and assessment, scripture, and prayer. I hope people remember not to follow anyone's advice without thought and research, especially when it goes against everything they instinctively know about their own children. Despite Mr. Ezzo's feelings about instincts, I believe they are a God-given gift allowing us one more tool to understand our children.