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September 14, 2005

Call Me -- Skeptical

This is a comment that was recently made on a previous thread here. It brings up some very interesting points. Welcome, Skeptical. I hope you don't mind me highlighting your comments. I believe they will stimulate some interesting discussion.

I surfed over here from a parenting board, and I just have to comment. I'm everything people like you despise - politically progressive, committed to attachment parenting, and extremely wary of people who call themselves "Christian."

I have to ask, in the spirit of respectful inquiry - what responsibility do Babywisers *themselves* bear? I hear so frequently now from former Babywisers who deeply regret their abusive parenting practices. They blame the man, the book, the principles, the schedule, their church. But what about *them*?

I can tell you that there is no book, no man, no group, no "groupthink," that could EVER make me starve my children, ignore their nighttime cries, physically bully and intimidate them, and teach them that relationships are all about domination and emotional violence. I'm so weary of former Babywisers who want to abdicate all moral and ethical responsibility for their actions. Maybe the program is ill-informed and harmful. So what does that say about the people who follow it to the letter?

Sorry, but formerly abusive parents don't get my sympathy. That's reserved for their grievously wronged children.

--Skeptical

And to continue the discussion, from Skeptical. . .

Hmm. Okay, that comment came out sounding meaner than I intended. I truly don't want to be unkind to parents who genuinely regret their prior behavior, and who seek to become better, kinder, more gentle caregivers. So I apologize for sounding like a *insert inappropriate word here*. But my initial confusion still stands. If someone told me to turn my heart away from my children, I'd tell him to go *blank* himself. I cannot imagine any such hateful doctrine taking root in the community of which I am a part. So why has it taken up residence in yours?


Now I'm verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

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First of all, I don't think politics needs to be a determinant of parenting philosophy. Conservatives, liberals, whoever, can be overindulgent, too strict, negectful, or great parents. Let's not muddy the waters!

Skeptical's question is (if I'm understanding correctly), "How can you hurt your children and not take responsibility?" I don't think that pointing out where you were misled is an attempt to cast off all responsibility. By confessing that you were misled and you did these things, you ARE taking some responsibility, though obviously not to everyone's satisfaction.

Many (including our gracious hostess) are, in fact, taking the additional responsibility upon themselves to warn others against a snare they fell into. Which is to say these parents never intended to hurt their children in any way, but were led to believe that the things they were doing were ultimately in the best interest of their children. Although I was duly warned away from Ezzo long before my son was born, I still believe that discipline which involves unpleasant experiences (spanking, time-out, whatever) is necessary to children and I just don't think it's so obvious that all this is wrong. Which means, the blame should not rest solely on the parents' shoulders. Sorry, that was a sentence fragment!

Posted by: Lenise at September 15, 2005 09:36 PM

Ok, I'll bite...."I hear so frequently now from former Babywisers who deeply regret their abusive parenting practices. They blame the man, the book, the principles, the schedule, their church. But what about *them*?"

Well, I do not for a minute regret my abusive parenting practices, because they were not abusive. Contrary to the picture you have painted, I did not "starve my children." I did use a schedule with my first children. The first two were quite plump. With the third, when I realized that he was not getting enough to eat, I switched to formula.

I did not "ignore their nighttime cries." I heard mine when they cried. I *did* sometimes set a timer for 10 minutes to be sure they were really fully awake. This was not 10 minutes of screaming, but 10 minutes from when they whimpered. For me, "training" mine to sleep through the night was not a difficult process. In fact, that made it hard for me to help mothers when I was a contact mom, because the nighttime "training" really had not been traumatic for us.

I did not "physically bully and intimidate them, and teach them that relationships are all about domination and emotional violence." I'd love to hear exactly what you are referring to when you say that. I'm not sure at all. But my children were never physically bullied, they do not think that relationships are all about emotional violence (what is that??).

I *do* have regrets. I *did* have to work with my children to retrain them in some areas. (Specifically, I had to help one child gain confidence in his decision-making skills.) I regret the time *I* lost that I could have been using a sling (I LOVED that with my dd), nursing more and using nursing to comfort instead of a paci, etc. Most of the regrets are my own. It is not because my children have life-long scars.

Yes, I do have responsibility for my mistakes in parenting. I began as a more authoritarian parent and have had to learn to parent from the heart. A parent who starts out too permissive also has responsibility and should not entirely blame the culture, although that is certainly a cultural trend. But if you are "into" a system, it can be very hard to think outside of that particular trend. That is true either way.

And YES Gary Ezzo DOES have responsibility for what he teaches, because he teaches that it is God's truth, which it is not. It is sprinkled with enough Scripture to sound good. And it makes his program carry more weight for Christians who desperately want to parent in a way that is pleasing to God and that is biblical.

As for the formerly abusive parents, if it is truly a former thing, I do have sympathy. Many of them were once abused themselves and it is all they know. It doesn't excuse what has happened. But I can show grace to that person because I have been shown grace in areas where I have done wrong.

That's what is amazing. Christ can love the abuser anyway. He came to forgive the self-righteous who thinks he has no need of Christ and who scorns those whom he believes is undeserving of grace, and He also came to forgive the abuser. And yes, even the former GFI parent. And EVEN Gary Ezzo.

Posted by: chewymom at September 15, 2005 09:40 PM

Hmm. Okay, that comment came out sounding meaner than I intended. I truly don't want to be unkind to parents who genuinely regret their prior behavior, and who seek to become better, kinder, more gentle caregivers. So I apologize for sounding like a *insert inappropriate word here*. But my initial confusion still stands. If someone told me to turn my heart away from my children, I'd tell him to go *blank* himself. I cannot imagine any such hateful doctrine taking root in the community of which I am a part. So why has it taken up residence in yours?

Posted by: Skeptical at September 15, 2005 10:11 PM

I think a quick-skimmed study of sociology and history will do more to answer that last question than anything else would.

Bluntly, hateful (and evil, and wrong) beliefs take place, have taken place, and will continue to take place in almost every people group known to human history.

Man is fallible, prone to error just as much as he is to truth, drawn to evil just as much as he is to good, able to be decieved and decieve, just as much as he is able to be delightful and to delight. How DO we get Ghandi and Hitler, Mother Theresa and the child abusing priest, Stalin and good mommies out of the same human race???

This has very little to do with Christianity and more to do with people in general. (That's assuming Ezzo is as evil as some people say he is, of course). It's just a fact of humankind.

As for (somewhat) claiming the Christian community is at fault for Ezzo, that argument is flawed from a logical perspective. I would hardly dare to suggest that because some politically progressive people have made mistakes in childrearing that it implies something is catagorically wrong with ALL political progressives.

Many parenting theories abound in Christian circles, Ezzo's being one of many opinions and practices. In the meantime, NON Christian groups promote the same parenting theories [ie, similar to Ezzo] with great gusto, and have been doing so for quite some time. (I believe the earliest book I read advocating strict infant feeding schedules was written in the 1800's).

Perhaps the problem dwells more within a modernistic society than anything else, Christianity being made up of people from that same society who bring with them internalized modern principles.

Modern thought tells us that there is a step by step solution to any problem, that a scientific formula will solve whatever issues you have, that robotic response is best, etc... So we take our little baby and we apply that worldview to our parenting, just as we have applied it to every other aspect of our life. It's just the way moderns *think.*

The Scriptures speak of babies as being WHOLE PERSONS, not little machines to regiment, but whole people to love and nurture and guide and help form and fashion into joyful thriving fruitful adults.

Yes, Christian Scripture speaks very positively about routine and order, about discipline and reproof...but it also speaks very highly about comforting an infant with the breast, about dandling babes on the knee with delight, about treasuring children, about rejoicing in them and with them. So faulting Christianity for Ezzo's existance is barking up the wrong tree.


...
From a woman who doesn't do Ezzo (but wanted to answer your question anyway)...

Posted by: molly at September 16, 2005 02:30 AM

An OT told me a little bit about Babywise when our son was an infant. She liked it, but from what she told me about it, I would not have chosen to follow it. It sounded/felt totally wrong to me.
I cannot get inside another parent's head to judge, although I do not understand why they would choose Babywise.
Also, there are other things I have done wrong, and later regretted.

Posted by: Julana at September 16, 2005 08:32 AM

TG, I'm sorry for hogging your blog, and I'll go away after this last comment, because I think it's rude for people to monopolize other people's blogs.

Ladies, with all due respect, many of your points are factually and scientifically incorrect. There is a large body of empirical research on the parenting practices that produce the best developmental outcomes in children.

For example, spanking has been shown to increase aggression, and decrease compliance, in children over the long term. It also prevents them from learning *why* they are/are not supposed to engage in a certain behavior, because cognition (learning) can't take place in the presence of fear (neuronal excretion of cortisol and norepinephrine).

Similarly, even medical professionals who advocate the "crying it out" approach (e.g. Weissbluth, Ferber) note that you should never leave your child to cry if he or she is less than six months old (due to the developmental damage that's sure to occur), and if the child becomes excessively distressed, you should comfort the child and resume "sleep training" at a later time. Again, fear is known to inhibit learning. You can't "teach" a child to sleep when that child is experiencing terror. Children under six months have no object permanency skills, and cannot comprehend where you are or why they have been left alone.

Scheduled feedings in children under one year of age are known to produce malnourishment and - in very young children (e.g. under six months of age) - acute distress. Research shows that infants (who don't have the capacity to regulate themselves or their internal states) experience hunger as an intensely painful condition. Their heart rates soar, their cortisol excretion increases, they begin to sweat, etc. In other words, hunger is extremely stressful for them.

We also know that an authoritarian style of parenting produces children who are insecure, anxious, and self-critical. Research has shown the wisdom of Haim Ginott's long-ago statement about the parent-child bond: "In a loving relationship, there is no room for punishment." (Please note that discipline is different than punishment). Optimal developmental outcomes are achieved when parents help their children learn to regulate their emotions with calm, loving words and touches; place firm limits on behavior, with natural consequences attached to transgressions; and explain those limits in language children can understand. Physical pain doesn't teach kids anthing. I'm sure that if your husband smacked you every time he disagreed with you, then claimed that it was for your own good, you'd experience less trust and joy in your marriage.

But don't take my word for it. Please, I implore you, read the research for yourself. Read the research by Margot Sunderland, James McKenna, Diana Baumrind, and - most importantly - read John Gottman's empirical investigation into optimal parenting practices (summarized in his book, "The Heart of Parenting").

Lastly, I have to ask - and as I'm not a Christian, please excuse any mistakes in terminology I might make - who is your God? Is He not all-loving and all-nerciful? Does he not confer grace precisely because He embraces you, instead of punishing you? When you've been alone and frightened, when you've cried out to Him in the middle of the night, is He not there to comfort you? Has He not led you and taught you with gentleness, forgiveness, and love?

Then what, exactly, do you think your children will learn about God's mercy from a parent who withholds needed nourishment, beats them to "teach them a lesson," and leaves them alone in the darkness of the night?

Posted by: Skeptical at September 16, 2005 09:19 AM

If the mother listened to the many signs and guilty feelings while she was letting her baby cry-it-out, I think she would recognize the wrong. (Although some are in denial). I think it is the same with spanking, the same with yelling at one's children, the same with ignoring one's children when on the internet. It is even the same with having an abortion. Inside, we know better. It doesn't mean we always do better. We may even think what we are doing is right. We often miss the mark – by choice, by following the wrong shepherd, by ignorance, by human tradition, by deception. We may try to put the blame on circumstances, or other people, or "I didn't know", but we are still guilty. Also, none of us are in a position to say, "I wouldn't do that", because we are just as likely to sin, although perhaps in another area. Keep in mind, the very first sin on earth was as a result of deception. Adam made a choice to sin, but Eve was deceived.

I believe it is a responsibility to warn others about dangers. Learning a lesson the hard way and sharing your experience with others will help prevent a lot of pain (and in this case, can even save lives).

Posted by: Carol at September 16, 2005 10:15 AM

I want to point out that Dr. Sears calls himself "Christian."

I understand Skeptical's confusion, though. When I read the Babywise book I was given, it made me so thoroughly sad. I am grateful that his method is contrary to the instincts and wisdom I credit God for giving me in my mothering. We all make mistakes, though, and God's grace covers them. For me, God's grace is at the core of attachment parenting.

Posted by: Leslie at September 16, 2005 10:27 AM

i am not a former ezzoite--he came after my time. maybe that is why i read "skeptical's" question differently than some of you. maybe i read it differently b/c of my own personal quirks. my reading of the question was, "how can you call yourselves 'christian' and treat your kids the way this man told you to treat them?"
i didn't think politics played any role in her question except as an adjective to describe how different she was from the majority who read this blog. i tho't it was a very good question but a very uncomfortable one.

of course, the teacher (ezzo) is responsible for what he has taught. scripture says that teachers bear the most responsibility b/f God--especially if they didn't teach truth. however, we are not going to change gary ezzo AND we are not responsible for him. justice will come for him--i think it has started already.

we are responsible for ourselves! have we forgiven him for what we may feel is something unforgiveable? are we "stuck" in what we perceive is a past mistake? do we believe God is sovereign in our lives and the lives of our children and had good purposes for them and us in this bad experience? in some of the anti-ezzo readings, i pick up the forgiveness and awareness of what people learned and how they have moved on. in others, there is this huge amount of vitriol and bitterness that concerns me. are you just mad that you made a mistake?

i think ezzo attracted many perfectionists--people who wanted perfect kids. maybe we need to recognize what our motivation was and deal with it. if not, we could fall into another parenting problem b/c we haven't dealt with a deeper issue. are we raising our kids to be perfect(pharisees) or are we raising our kids to glorify God (with hearts that are tender toward Him)? b/f you answer too quickly, which makes you more upset, when your child does an offence in public or in private? when your child does something overt (tells a lie) or sneaky and underhanded (picks at younger brother or sister until they hit him and get in trouble). in God's eyes, both are sinful. both need to be dealt with. both take wisdom...that only God can give.

for many, this ezzo problem would have been solved if people would have worked with older women/couples in the church who had raised their children well. you might have had to make the first contact, but wouldn't it have been worth the stress of asking for the help? the embarrassment of having them say that there WERE some things you needed to change? (b/c their ultimate concern was for your best.) having the church BE the church is a two way street. it takes risk on both sides. b/c we are afraid to take risks personally and go to teachers like ezzo (who for awhile looked good from a distance), we hurt ourselves, our families and our witness to people like "skeptical". she is very insightful--like many around us. she is looking for people who truly love (as in I John), and forgive and give evidence to the world around us that the Gospel is true.

i speak as a child who was raised to be a good little self-righteous pharisee. it is no easier for me to live the christian life than it is for the christian who came from a completely pagan background. i look better on the outside, but God looks on my heart and often is not pleased with what He sees. it has been a challenge to raise children (all daughters) to be genuine rather than perfect. as a pastor's wife, i had to learn to raise them with integrity rather than to please people. (a huge pressure.) as a child who was not very loved or encouraged (my parents were busy doing God's work) to learn to love and encourage my children. child raising has been a huge challenge. i don't see how anyone can do it without the wisdom that God gives from His Word (used wisely!) and His wise people in the local church that you are able to observe. they are imperfect, as we all are, but they go to God for forgiveness over and over again and find help. these are the people we go to for help in community.
pardon this lengthy blog. i couldn't let skeptical's question go. it was too good. i'm sorry my answer is way too overwhelmingly long.
martha

Posted by: martha at September 16, 2005 10:33 AM

I couldn't have less at stake personally in this, which some will take to mean I should shut up, but others, hopefully will see that I have probably less bias to control.

I have observed debates about this in several churches where I have lived, and apart from my bewilderment at the CERTAINTY that people have about such things, I think Skeptical's questions are incisive ones.

But it's the very certainty and discipline that are part of evangelical culture that make it fruitful soil for a number of "doctrines" to take root. Conviction and discipline can be wonderful things and to make it personal, I suspect Skeptical, in her love for her children, disciplines them in a variety of ways. She clearly has convictions given her tone and content here.

But conviction untempered by humility is harmful. Discipline is itself loving in ways, but in other ways discipline is, as she says, hateful.

Perhaps the competing factions in these and other disputes within evangelicalism could be more humble in the convictions and listen more.

Posted by: GL at September 16, 2005 02:44 PM

I am a Christian, and I did a blend of attachment parenting and some techniques that might be termed "ezzoian." I wore a sling and rarely used a stroller. I nursed my children until they were around 18-20 months (I did seem to find that most of my friends that did the Ezzowise plan tended to not breastfeed much beyond 7-8 months because the demand wasn't high on the supply). We purposed to speak in kind voices, with gentleness. Our children are kind, funny, intelligent, thoughtful kids. I thought that the Ezzo's overemphasized children being enjoyable for the sake of others, but I found that those who were as into AP were too child centered- I saw moms do absolutely everything the child wanted, including leaving a restaurant just because the child wanted to leave. Moderation seemed to work best for us.

P.S. Hey, TG, how are ya? :D

Posted by: Rae at September 17, 2005 12:08 AM

Dear Skeptical,

I am not an Ezzo lover and never was but since God is merciful I am willing to not only warn those who practice this style of parenting but forgive them and help them find courage to change. Thankfully it is easy for many of them to change since they were going against their own better judgement anyway.

But let us say for a minute that tomorrow you woke up and all your "empirical" evidence was proven wrong; that researchers relooked at these areas and found that they were wrong in their original conclusions. It would not be the first time in modern history that we were told research said one thing and 20 years later found out it said something else?

Would you be repent of your parenting practices? Would you change them? My guess is that you would not because there is something deeper inside you than empirical evidence that causes you to respond to your children a certain way.

And that is why the "quality of mercy is not strained." You are fallible, I am fallible, empirical evidence is even fallible, Gary Ezzo is fallible and every parent on the planet is making mistakes this morning.

You are right "Babywise" is bad theology.
God is merciful because we need mercy. For we all have sinned. Apart from Christ there is no hope for you, I or Babywisers.

Posted by: Cindy at September 17, 2005 09:09 AM

Skeptical,

Thank you for your comments, and allowing your thoughts to be the jumping in point for this conversation. You bring up some very key questions. I'm going to summarize your thoughts into a few questions:

1. "[W]hat responsibility do Babywisers *themselves* bear?"

2. "Maybe the program is ill-informed and harmful. So what does that say about the people who follow it to the letter?"

3. I cannot imagine any such hateful doctrine taking root in the community of which I am a part. So why has it taken up residence in yours?


Before I go on and add my thoughts on these questions, I want to let you know that I don't "despise" people like you--". . .politically progressive, committed to attachment parenting, and extremely wary of people who call themselves "Christian."

I'm wary of people who call themselves Christian--though there are a great many individual Christians I respect and trust. I'm committed (now! *grin*) to attachment parenting, and find it strongly supported by empirical research as well as supported by my Christian beliefs. And while I'm politically conservative, I appreciate those who are progressive, and often more willing to be vocal about problems as they are beginning to develop. You are welcome here, and I really appreciate the thoughts you've brought to my blog as well as the conversation you've helped develop here.

More soon. . .

Posted by: TulipGirl at September 17, 2005 02:21 PM

TG-
I'm wary of people who call themselves Christian--though there are a great many individual Christians I respect and trust.

Just so I don't misinterpret here, you find nothing wrong with people simply identifying to which faith they subscribe, and thus identify themselves as a "Christian" right? I understand that there are many who may call themselves such, and very well aren't, but I just need some clarification on that subject.

Posted by: Rae at September 18, 2005 10:52 AM

I simply mean that the label "Christian" does not automatically mean it is a trustworthy source / person.

Posted by: TulipGirl at September 18, 2005 11:00 AM

1. "[W]hat responsibility do Babywisers *themselves* bear?"

Full responsibility, but not sole responsibility.

I believe we are all responsible for our own children, and accountable to God for how they are raised. We are all responsible for the decisions (and non-decisions) we make in how we raise and treat our children. I don't believe ignorance is an excuse, but I do believe that ignorance can explain poor choices.

For example, objectively we can see that breastfeeding has so many health benefits for infants that it is obviously the best choice for new mamas/babies. Implementation of breastfeeding can be more difficult--and not having good support/information on breastfeeding can undermine a mother's ability to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is still objectively superior, even if it is not what a mother chooses to do. . .

Fr me, I do accept full responsibility for our decision to use the faulty ideas from Gary Ezzo with our first two children. However, I don't accept sole responsibility.

Gary Ezzo has been confronted with the medical and Biblical misinformation in his materials and has not accepted responsibility for them. (While acknowledging that they exist, in that he continues to release "updated" versions with some of the worst offending misinformation changed.) Gary Ezzo (and many of his supporters) instead blame parents who do not have ideal results as being "legalistic" or lacking "common sense."

Posted by: TulipGirl at September 18, 2005 11:07 AM

2. "Maybe the program is ill-informed and harmful. So what does that say about the people who follow it to the letter?"

That the parents were ill-informed and vulnerable? Or well-informed, but still vulnerable?

The majority of BW parents I've known have been told by multiple trusted people "Oh, this is a great program!" I know I was. . . So I went into it assuming that the information was trustworthy. My spidey-sense wasn't on high-alert. Oh--and this was before I was online and had research access to the problems of Babywise that are available now. . .

Babywise (and even more so its "Christian" counterpart Prep for Parenting/Along the Infant Way) is written in a very persuasive style. Sure, when you know to look for its strawman arguments and false statements, it is obviously flawed. But for new parents who are expecting the information to be trustworthy, it's easy to overlook things that are obvious to others.

For example, I was involved with pregnancy centers and had a great interest in pregnancy, birth, infant care and breastfeeding long before I was ever pregnant. Read tons about it--mostly medical resources and AP-leaning resources. When BW was recommended to me, there were quite a few things that were contrary to what I had read before--but enough that seemed okay for me to *see* how they could be in harmony. Ezzo talks about how the demand/supply works in breastfeeding and how quality/quantity of the demand with schedule feeding works well to keep up suppply--even if frequency of demand was reduced. Other statements like that *seemed* to make what he was teaching in line with what was accurate medically (even though now I know it's not.) Have you been to his website? Ezzo has an AAP/Babywise comparison chart. Yeah, it's a bunch of crud, but it can be very convincing. . .

And as was stated before in this thread, the biggest motivator I've seen among BW parents is the desire to do the RIGHT thing that is BEST for their baby. And Ezzo can be persuasive that what he is teaching is really BEST.

On the flip side of that is what martha pointed out--"i think ezzo attracted many perfectionists--people who wanted perfect kids. maybe we need to recognize what our motivation was and deal with it." That was definitely the case with me, and something I am still dealing with in my own life and in my parenting. I'm trying to now be mindful of passing along to my children the opposite of perfectionism--grace and reliance upon the Lord, the willingness to admit mistakes and begin again.

Posted by: TulipGirl at September 18, 2005 11:21 AM

"3. I cannot imagine any such hateful doctrine taking root in the community of which I am a part. So why has it taken up residence in yours?"

Honestly, ya know. . . I'm just not sure. Ezzo's teachings aren't consistent with a Christian philosophy. In fact, Gary Ezzo's most vocal critics are Christians who point out that he both misuses the Bible and has displayed serious character concerns.

I know the motivation for me, was to do the "right" thing and the "best" thing for my baby. And the way his materials were presented to me and the endorsements by people I trusted. . . well. . . I thought I was doing the right thing. And it broke my heart when I heard my baby cry and cry and cry. But I thought I was doing it to really help my child learn good sleep patterns. (What a crock--I know that now. But then, well. . .)

And as Molly pointed out, it isn't *just* Christians who are vulnerable to deception and buying into harmful philosophies. I recently returned to the States from living in a country that had spent 70 years of atheistic communisim and the havoc it wreaked. Talk about a hateful doctrine taking root. . .

Though you are right--it is especially sad that people who believe in an almighty Creator don't pay attention to His designs. The studies you point out--yes, we can learn much about the way God designed babies to grow and children to develop from research. And we'd do well to heed what we can learn from observing God's creation.

Posted by: TulipGirl at September 18, 2005 09:08 PM

"Lastly, I have to ask - and as I'm not a Christian, please excuse any mistakes in terminology I might make - who is your God? Is He not all-loving and all-nerciful? Does he not confer grace precisely because He embraces you, instead of punishing you? When you've been alone and frightened, when you've cried out to Him in the middle of the night, is He not there to comfort you? Has He not led you and taught you with gentleness, forgiveness, and love?"

As time has gone by, I've come to see that I need to apply the Gospel in all of my relationships--most importantly, the relationships I have with my husband and children.

The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And our children. God has shown me such amazing grace, seeing Christ's righteousness when I am not. . . You are right--how can I not approach my children with the same attitude? These smallest disciples of His?

You may be interested to know that while Ezzo has become popular (both within the Christian and non- communities), his is not the only voice.

Here are some Christians who you may find to parent from a more gentle, grace-and-gospel point of view:

Gentle Christian Mothers
Parenting Decisions: Discipline
Graceful Mothering
Family Issues
Arms of Love Family Fellowship
Joanne's Positive Discipline Resource Center

Posted by: TulipGirl at September 18, 2005 09:20 PM

As a former GKGW parent, I am just furious at being characterized as a child-abusing, ignorant, violent, immoral, unethical parent. I'm so happy for you, Skeptical, that you had perfect role-models and teachers available so that you could be the perfect parent. That in your high-and-mighty tower you can look down upon all of us unenlightened peons and wonder where we went wrong.

You know, some of us were looking around, desperately grasping at something, anything to give us a foundation that was NOT abusive. For something to give us a plan so we wouldn't default to the emotional blackmail and utter fear that our parents used to keep us in line. So that we could end a 100-year-old cycle of beating and psychological abuse. We happened first upon a man and his wife, a kindly older couple with adult children who offered to share their parenting experience with others in order to give them some kind of idea of how parenting can work. Beccause, you see, parenting does NOT come naturally to everyone, particularly to those whose own childhood is so warped that it takes them 8-10 years of marriage to even consider bringing a child into the world. All we knew was what we DIDN'T want to do.

And some friends of ours said, "We found this class taught by Gary and Marie Ezzo. They have some ideas that really worked for us." So we took a class. I didn't agree with everything they said, but a lot made sense to me as a first-time parent. What did I know? He said that AP-ers were letting their children rule the home. I knew I didn't want to beat my children into submission, but I did still want to be the parent. I know now that he mis-characterized the whole idea of AP as basically un-parenting. I didn't blindly follow him. I charted my babiess weight gain, bowel movemets, wet diapers, just like they said to do. They didn't fail to thrive, they were plump little darlings, as Chewy said above. So we took a couple of more classes.

The first chink in my belief in the Ezzo theories came early. He believes in original sin, that chidren are inherently sinful. This is not an uncommon Christian belief, just not one of mine. So I didn't go along with the "if it's natural, it's not of God" line he taught.
So maybe I didn't get brainwashed all the way or whatever.

The second chink was my colicky second daughter. The Ezzos basically don't believe in colic. If you're feeding your child properly and doing the sleep/feed/wake cycle, colic simply doesn't happen. Bullcrap! So guess what? I nursed her on 'demand' and that didn't help either. Nothing made her happy until she was 3 months old or so and it went away. After that, I was a lot more lax about schedule.

With baby number 3, I had found Tulipgirl and the whole Ezzo plan went right down the toilet. I have demand fed, and held my son whenever he needed it -- and guess what? He doesn't run the house. I still have a few ideas that work for us from the Ezzos -- 1st time obedience, I am my children's authority on mandate from God, couch time, room time. But these are not rigid rules to be followed at any expense. They are guidelines that help me and my children keep control of ourselves, to solve conflict calmly. Which is a lot better than the way I was raised.

I realize the bar is a lot higher than that, that we need to have loftier goals than "at least I'm better than my parents were". I'm just saying that I'm getting a start there. I constantly search for better parenting ideas, for better ways to communicate with my children, for better ways to discipline and keep order in my home. If that's abuse, then come and lock me up.

Posted by: Gem at September 18, 2005 09:35 PM

Gem, you mentioned the specific things that I took away from watching other parents use Ezzoian technique: first time obedience, couch time, room time.

I recall a dear friend, a mentor, once correcting me in telling my young daughter to "choose to obey." She told me that I ought not say that because she has no choice. I disagreed. I wanted my daughter to realize that even at three directly doing what mommy has asked you not to do has a consequence and was wholly her own choice.

Anyway, I demand fed, and our children (as babies only) would end up sleeping in our bed at around 2 a.m. When I was doing the trying to sit up at night and stay awake to nurse, I was exhausted all day long. When we attempted the Ferber method, I was exhausted and so was the baby. Guess what made everyone more rested and thus have better, sweeter attitudes the next day? Bringing the baby into our bed. Now, so that no one freaks out, we always put the children to bed in their own beds, and by around 2 they had weaned themselves and were sleeping all night in their own beds, unless a frightening dream awakened them, in which case they would simply make their way to our bed for comfort. I always slept with my right arm extended and lightly touching my husband's back so that he wouldn't do the old wives tale of "rolling over onto the b_by and suffocating it."

Terrific dialogue, TG and thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: Rae at September 19, 2005 09:31 PM

Rae, you reminded me, that was another Ezzo no-no that we just gave up and did anyway with Dd5, and then did (without guilt this time) with Ds when he came along. They slept so much better with me, and Dd could be fed before she really woke up and realized she was supposed to be unhappy. It never lasted past 2 or 3 months, they were in their beds by then. Good thing, Ds is a squirmy worm. He had terrible ear infections -- 6 his first year -- so I would try to bring him to bed with me. Then neither of us slept, lol! I only tried that a couple of times once he was old enough to crawl! He got tubes in his ears and is almost sleeping through the night now.

Posted by: Gem at September 22, 2005 03:14 PM

"Ladies, with all due respect, many of your points are factually and scientifically incorrect. There is a large body of empirical research on the parenting practices that produce the best developmental outcomes in children."

All the points you listed may very well be true (and I myself believe them to be) but unfortunately that information is NOT readily available to most people. And most of those things are not supported by our society.

Heck, putting the Ezzos aside, there is still a wealth of terrible parenting advice out there! Weissbluth, Ferber, Hogg, Spock....and the list goes on.

These so-called experts aren't as radical as Ezzo, but harmful nontheless. And the people being sucked in aren't just Christians - they come from all walks of life! In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why it's called "mainstream" because that's how the mainstream parents!

Seriously, take breastfeeding for example, even with all the scientific info that proves that breastfeeding is best, women STILL do not have readily available access to that info and the support that they need. Heck, some of the worst breastfeeding advice I got was from the lactation consultant herself!!

I'm sorry, but it's just not as cut and dried as you make it appear to be.

Another thing to think about is how our society teaches people more and more to abandon their instincts and use logical thought instead. Anyone can fall prey to that - certainly not just Christians.

I think the reason so many of us "pick on" the Ezzos so much is because of their mis-use of scripture in order to validate their views and techniques.

The parents that I know who have used Ezzo in the past aren't whining about their experiences and trying to pass the blame. I truly feel they are trying to educate others who might fall into the same trap.

I really appreciate your thoughts and insights. I just wish you would try to support and encourage those parents who have had a bad start, realized the error of their ways, and seek to share their wisdom with others.

Posted by: Jenn at September 24, 2005 10:48 PM

Hi all, I'm a friend of TG and the fam, trying to contribute. I'm not a parent, and I'm a guy, so... I'll be staying away from lactation questions.

What I thought I could add was more along the lines of what is good parenting from the recipient's POV (raised in a semi-Christian home). My parents spanked me on rare occasions and, if I don't include childhood squabbles with my bro, I can count the number of times I remember getting in fights on one finger. I was afraid of spanking as I was of righteous retribution, because my parents never used it without just cause. Spanking worked for me.

You try to sound flabbergasted that anyone would take advice to spank their children or fiddle with breast feeding plans, and maybe you are. But that is because you aren’t trying to understand, as proven in this sentence: “I'm sure that if your husband smacked you every time he disagreed with you, then claimed that it was for your own good, you'd experience less trust and joy in your marriage.”

You don't slap adults for the same reason you don't spoon feed them or change their diapers. My wife doesn’t have to slap me when I act like a knucklehead, because my parents used a wide variety of means, including spanking, to make sure I learned what was wrong and how to behave when I was a kid. If they hadn’t done so, I would only be able to hope that an institution had imposed discipline in my life, including physical punishment. If no one had, then no amount of slapping would avail her now (nor would she have been foolish enough to marry me).

And about advice: When I was one year old, I ended up in the hospital twice with asthma attacks. Why twice? Because when I was curled up in the fetal position with troubled breathing in front of general practitioners, they still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Only after the second time did someone make the offhand suggestion that I be allergy tested. I tested allergic to 114/120 foods tested, including many my parents had already begun feeding me. Later, the asthma and many allergies disappeared. None of us is sure why, and believe me, we are experts on allergies.

It wasn’t a matter of having advice from “experts” (the GP’s gave my parents advice that was not just wrong but harmful, and some allergy cures turned out to have been counterproductive). They were lucky enough to meet a great up-and-coming allergist and they worked hard, and then we were lucky some more. What you miss in saying that “There is a large body of empirical research on the parenting practices that produce the best developmental outcomes in children,” is that no parent, yourself included, can perfectly determine whom to trust, when to trust them, and about what.

“Lastly, I have to ask... who is your God? Is He not all-loving and all-merciful?”

Thank God for easy questions. From Pslam 23, which I was fortunately reading just this morning: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

Staffs are for sheep to run towards and congregate around, rods are for swatting behinds when the sheep get out of line. Both are a comfort, because together they keep the sheep from being lost in the darkest valley.

Please come comment more. There are half a dozen respondents here, you're only monopolizing our time if we choose not to read anyone else's post.

Posted by: Dan at September 25, 2005 07:29 PM

After just reading Dan's idea of the shepherd's rod being used for whacking sheep...I have to laugh because this is the other screen I have open right now:

http://joanneaz_2.tripod.com/positivedisciplineresourcecenter/id4.html

Very seriously, I was just lurking around the 'net and had both of these sites open :)

Enjoying this discussion, I'll leave you all to it!

Posted by: BluegrassMama at September 26, 2005 12:31 AM


 
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