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July 21, 2007

Ezzo Week QotD: Older Children?

I am curious about the older child Ezzo stuff...........GKGW, I guess, or whatever the name is now. I have read the baby/toddler wise books but I don't know anything about how they suggest parenting preschool/elementary aged children.

Good question. . . Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo have written several books/programs for older children, the core of which was orginally called Growing Kids God's Way. I've heard the Ezzos themselves refer to it recently in an interview as such, though the revamped name is now "Let the Children Come Along the Virtuous Way." Still GKGW is an easier acronym to type, so I'll use that to refer to the core curriculum for older children past and current. (Look here for an attempt at compiling a full list of Ezzo titles.)

To be completely honest, I have more concerns about the materials written by the Ezzos for parents of preschoolers and older children than I do about the infant/toddler materials. Often it is easier to discuss Babywise/Prep/Along the Infant Way the problems often manifest quickly in physical ways. Also, it can be easier to discuss with parents who are new to Ezzo parenting the problems with the materials, than it is to bring up the flaws in the older children materials when parents have already been using them for such a long time.

What I've seen to be the heart of the problem with Ezzo's materials? Neglecting the Gospel. In striving to teach children the "moral reason why," what is neglected is coming alongside children when they sin, helping children acknowledge that sin, and pointing to their need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Among Rebecca Prewett's many insightful writings related to Ezzo parenting, includes a review of GKGW in which she summarizes:

"The crux of GKGW philosophy is the belief that a child's heart is molded by external factors, and it is molding by the parents that will lead the child to Christ. . . . A secondary concern here is that, in the end, it seems that behavior modification is what is really being taught as the key to success and Christianity."

While that is sufficient reason in my experience for parents to reject the Ezzo's materials for older children, there are some other concerns that need to be mentioned. Each of these points will be linked to an outside resource for those who want more information.

1. Misuse of the Bible

2. Tendency towards Legalism

3. Isolationism / Divisiveness

4. Misinformation on Child Development

And for further reading on GKGW, I recommend:
Whose Way, After All? by Barbara Curtis
GKGW: Myths and Misconceptions by former Contact Mom, pastor's wife
Evaluation of Ezzo Parenting Programs by Dr. Kent McClain
AwareParent.Net Discussion Board
Chewymom's GFI Experiences

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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We never used the Babywise material. All of our negative experiences with Ezzo material was the GKGW series. Without making this too long of a comment, what we found was that the Ezzos focus too much on outward compliance, saying that the inward embrace of the principle will come later. We have an eighteen year old daughter who was very, very compliant and would have been considered a model GKGW child. Today, she is rebellious and we have agonized over her behaviour these past six months. We were too focused on outward compliance rather than helping her to recognize her own heart condition. We feel now that we were led to believe that if we did everything right up until the age of 13 (when the Ezzos say a child reaches "moral maturity) then we wouldn't have rebellion. We did.

The Growing Kids material, in my opinion, tries to make parenting "convenient."

Somewhere at Ezzo.info, there is a link to a blog post that I did about the subject.

Posted by: Kim in ON at July 22, 2007 09:40 PM

Kim, I'm so, so sorry for the struggles your family is walking through right now. *hug* I take great comfort in seeing how I've seen God work in families, covenant families, over time. . . Even though there may be some very, very difficult seasons, it gives me hope.

And I wanted to link to what you've shared in the past about GKGW. Need to hunt down that link.

(Found and added them. Thank you, Kim, for sharing from the heart.)

Posted by: TulipGirl at July 22, 2007 10:06 PM

TG: Thanks so much for linking to the article by Dr. Barbara Francis regarding Ezzo's misinformation on child development. It has been a long while (pre-kids) since I read it. It was thought-provoking and sometimes convicting.

Given my own impatience, pride and demanding nature, I pray I don't fall into a trap of expecting more of my children than what is appropriate for their ages. This is a daily, sometimes hourly, battle for me. Also, that I would strive to understand what is going on at each stage of their development and respond with wisdom and grace!

Posted by: Ana at July 22, 2007 11:56 PM

I'm sure you've probably seen these links before, but I'll include them just in case. This was the page that helped me so much when I was trying (unsuccessfully) to push my first baby into an Ezzo routine:


How I grieve thinking of those first few months of his life. There were so many times I stifled my instincts in order to go "by the book," and I missed some precious moments. I'll never get those months back.

Posted by: Rocks In My Dryer at July 22, 2007 11:58 PM

put you on my blog today

Posted by: anne sokol at July 23, 2007 06:22 AM

I have been thinking about the whole idea of behovior modification / the gospel / discipline books like the Ezzo's and others.

Please forgive me if I am on a rabbit trail or not making any sense.

I think when you say "Neglecting the Gospel" you mean that they (the parents and the children, I suppose) are holding themselves responsable for the forgivness of sin. The whole idea that we (as parents) are responible for our children's sin really bothers me, does this also mean that we are responsible for their redemption as well?

I am afraid that I am not articulating my question here very well, but I would love to talk about this some more. I am going to link to you and post on my blog........

Thanks TG :)

Posted by: Amie at July 23, 2007 10:12 AM

Thank you for this entire 'awareness week' on the Ezzos and for linking to me (crunchycrazy) as I was unaware of this blog and a few sites you have listed. Most of the mom sites I've attended are either totally secular or arminian and VERY Pearlesque.

It is truely behaviour modification without reasoning or teaching to reason. We are still relearning ourselves. But I know this journey will be a blessing to our children and future generations.

Posted by: APuritanLady at July 24, 2007 10:53 AM

I have never been a fan of GKGW, and yet, when my first was born I found myself needing at least some guidelines for the baby routine/schedule. So I borrowed an ancient copy of the Prep for Parenting workbook.

Since I had heard so much about how legalistic they were, I was shocked to keep reading them give the parents the freedom to vary everything as needed for their child, and to NEVER let your crying child go hungry even if it isn't the "scheduled" meal time (despite what I've heard so many claim). The definately revered a parent's wisdom for their child over any method, as I was surprised to find.

I'm not a very structured person, so their recommendations were actually just what I needed to make sure that my child was getting enough to eat, getting enough sleep, and giving our baby months some much needed routine and sanity. I didn't take what they said as gospel, but my oldest was a textbook child, and fell right into the schedule quite naturally. She now LOVES going to bed when it's time, though she's so used to a dark, quiet room with a crib, that when these aren't available, it's pretty hopeless to try and force substitutions on her. Other than that, she's a VERY flexible child.

So, it worked for the first year, but I don't intend to continue using them for a resource beyond that, exactly for the reasons all of you have listed.

But the baby schedules worked for my first. My second will be coming along shortly, so we'll see if it's as much a fit with this next one as it was for big sister. =o)

Posted by: Alisa at July 24, 2007 11:46 PM

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