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July 16, 2007

Ezzo Week QotD: Social Discomfort

How do you handle it when you hear that someone uses and promotes Babywise? I was recently in an uncomfortable situation where someone was praising Babywise to a pregnant first-time mom. I was at a bit of a disadvantage because I was the "new kid on the block" and didn't want to come across as snooty toward someone who is an established leader in the group. On the other hand, I could not let this clueless soon-to-be mama think Babywise was OK. I just said that I had friends who loved it and others who had terrible experiences. Then I shared a bit of your story. What do you do? Or what do you recommend?

It's not easy being in a situation in which Babywise is being praised, when you know the very real problems associated with it.

The communication technique of feel-felt-found has helped me share my concerns while being respectful of other mothers. With this pattern you can acknowledge the very real fears that new mothers have--ones that Ezzo plays upon to persuade parents to use his materials. At the same time, it isn't being disrespectful to other mothers who have used Babywise. It can provide an opportunity to share more either at that moment, or in the future.

Some examples:

"Sounds like you feel nervous about not knowing what to do with a new baby. I felt uncertain, too, before my first was born. I found that when I watched baby's cues and responded with the care he needed, I became more confident."

"You feel worried about how a new baby will change your marriage. I felt like my husband and I had no clue just what it would mean to our relationship to have a baby. But then we found that our love grew and we each gave to each other and to the baby so much. The dynamics changed, but our love didn't." (Babywise and other Ezzo materials very much plays on the fears of how baby will change the husband/wife relationship.)

"You feel fearful baby will never sleep and you'll go crazy. When I heard about babies waking at night, I felt like that meant I'd be sleepless all the time. I found that even when baby still needed to nurse once or twice a night, I got enough rest--if I was careful not to stay up too late blogging!"

"When you hear about Babywise, you feel like it sounds great! A friend of mine felt the same way, but she found that it caused more problems than it was supposed to help."

"You feel like Babywise will be great for your baby. I felt like it was a potential resource, too. But then I found Ezzo.info and the problems associated with Babywise."

It sounds like you handled it well--considering the context, considering your relationship, and sharing what you could.

What other ideas do y'all have for when you're in a socially uncomfortable position because of how Ezzo parenting is being promoted?

Do you have a question for our Ezzo Week Question of the Day? E-mail me! EzzoWeek@gmail.com . Please let me know whether you want to be anon or if you want me to identify you and your blog.

This post is part of the Ezzo Week 2007 series, raising awareness about the concerns with "philosophy" of parenting promoted by Gary Ezzo.


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There have been times when I have not been diplomatic :-)

However, what I tend to do now, is begin with something like, "Well, I know a lot of people have had success with Babywise, but I have some reservations considering some of the feeding issues..." And then I go on to share how we managed with infants without the use of Babywise. I usually try to encourage the young mothers to rely more on their instincts with their own children, and encourage them that getting to know their babies is a process. After all, even though we carry them for nine months, it is only after the birth that we get to see their personalities. I try and remind young mothers that the Ezzo parenting method assumes that all babies are the same, and that simply isn't true.

Posted by: Kim in ON at July 17, 2007 09:09 AM

My wife and I used Babywise with our son, Jaxon, and it was awesome for us. Our son was (and still is) a happy baby, sleeping through the night by 8 weeks...all while being extremely well fed.

Posted by: nathan g at July 17, 2007 09:52 AM

This just happened to be yesterday! (Again). I know I haven't handled it as well as I wish in the past and I once had a new mom respond by asking "What ELSE do you think I'm doing wrong?" Lots of apologizing followed and things worked out fine. Yesterday happened to involve a friend of a new mom that was struggling with Babywise methods. I agree that empathy is always a strong tool. Also, the fairly "neutral" book Baby 411 provides a short list of book reviews in it (Dr. Ferber, Sears, Ezzo, etc.) and gives a general synopsis of the Babywise concerns. Referring to the American Academy of Pediatrics (or to the baby's own pediatrician) is usually helpful too. I've found Dr. Sears' materials to meet many of our needs, but regarding sleep, I love Dr. Marc Weissbluth's book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" to be the best. He really addresses the importance of temperment in sleep.

Posted by: Kaethe at July 17, 2007 10:52 AM

I mention some of the reservations I've heard, along with some of the horror stories.

I agree with others---it can be very hard to be the "negative" person in a social situation, and I also hate to risk relationships, yet some of the dangers of Ezzo are of enough concern that it's worth a little risk if it means it can help a baby.

Though I never scheduled (tried for two months with one of my babies, though) I did use a Babywise idea with great success---the feed, play, sleep routine is awesome, I think, with a newborn (though not using a clock---I mean, I never waited 3 whole hours between all feedings---I usually nursed way more than that!).

So as another commenter shared, it's a great tool to be able to have something positive to say about the Ezzo's stuff instead of all bashing. And by beginning with positives, a lot of times it really opens the doors to share a few of the concerns in a productive manner. :)

Posted by: Molly at July 17, 2007 08:40 PM

Great input, Molly, Kim, and Kaethe!

Nathan, I have a couple of questions, but I don't want to put you on the spot or turn this into an antagonistic exchange--so reply only if you feel like it. . . What drew you to Babywise?

Posted by: TulipGirl at July 17, 2007 10:27 PM

I always say that we used it with our first baby -- who came out as if she had read the book -- and thought that we were really great Ezzo parents. Then we had our second baby, colicky (which Ezzos deny exists) and fussy and wholly loveable, and we realized it wasn't the book, it was the baby. By the time our third came along we had thrown the book out and learned to listen to baby's cues, using logical consequences and age-appropriate expectations and boundaries. It was hard, though, because we had to un-learn a lot of our Ezzo expectations.

Posted by: Gem at July 17, 2007 10:48 PM

I tread lightly at first and put it all back on myself. I say how I read Babywise several years before I had kids, and in theory it all sounded like a great idea, but as time as passed and I've had my own kiddo, it turns out that I'm an attachment-type after all.

Also that I have not found the "sleeping through the night" to be the holy grail many make it out to be. This is big because I'm known as someone who needs her sleep to function well. Someday I will get back to my 8 continuous hours, but even if my son doesn't wake me in the night, my breasts do, and I've worked too hard for my milk supply to let it decrease now! In the meantime I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and I sneak in afternoon naps on tired days. And I really think we're all doing fine--we are loving being a family so I'd say things are a huge success so far!

Then if they want to talk further I go into the research I've done on Ezzo and his programs, and the bad vibes I got the more I dug into Ezzo's own website, the people I've known personally who take Ezzo to an extreme and have (physically) healthy kids but some seriously messed up family dynamics, etc.

Most of all I tell them to be careful with any 'program,' to not be afraid to let their intuition overrule advice in any book, and to find a doctor they trust, to whom they can defer with any concerns.

Posted by: skerrib at July 17, 2007 11:21 PM

I always try to be respectful, and I unfortunately don't often let on how seriously I disagree with Ezzo's materials. But I do have the fortunate position of being the family friend of the chief witness in all of the Child Abuse cases is our county, who is also a well seasoned pediatrician. I usually tell moms that this friend of our left a church after taking the GKGW class, because he believed the church to be promoting an abusive parent/child relationship.

Though I have discovered that people who are determined to use the method are not detoured by that information. Especially when they are very active in the church that uses and teaches the materials.

Posted by: Devona at July 19, 2007 12:24 AM

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