Focus on the Family Transcript

Dr. James Dobson--Transcript of Brief Remarks

The following question and answer were broadcast on Focus on the Family, August 25, 1999. Note: Minor changes that do not affect substance have been made to enhance readability, i.e. the deletion of repeated words and expansion of contractions.


Dr. Dobson I certainly appreciate your ministry and also the family values that you have presented over the years. In fact, I remember listening to your radio program while I was growing up, and that relates to my question. In the last couple years, there’s been some differences of opinion about raising children and there’s particularly—I’ve heard through the church work that I do as well as the studies—a certain program, Growing Kid’s God’s Way.

Dr. James Dobson:



And I was wondering, if you’re familiar with that program, if you could comment on that.

Dr. James Dobson:

I am familiar with it, and we get asked that question so often that we have a statement that we’d be glad to provide for you that will tell you what our concerns are about it. I’ve never attacked it, but I don’t endorse it. I don’t feel real good about it. To start with, I’m concerned with the title of the program, which implies that there’s only one way to deal with all the myriad of circumstances that come up in the realm of child rearing. You know, there’s interpretation of God’s way; otherwise we’d all see everything exactly the same, and we don’t. So it’s a little dogmatic in that regard. And secondly, there is a rigidity to it that worries me about young children. Children differ tremendously in temperament, as you know. They come into the world differently. And some of them are easy to raise and some of them are tougher than nails. And you try to take one of those ADD kids or one of those very aggressive youngsters and try to put them in a box like they recommend, and I think you can create some problems. So I’m not out campaigning against the Ezzos; I’m just not their greatest fan.

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  • Professionals Say
  • Signs of Hunger
  • Recent Research
  • A Mom Says

Rosemary Shy, MD , FAAP
Director, Children's Choice of Michigan Ambulatory Pediatrics
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Wayne State University, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Mich

"It is dangerous to do it the way he describes," Pediatrician Dr. Rosemary Shy says of Ezzo's technique. "It puts these babies at risk for jaundice, at risk for dehydration, and at risk for failing to thrive, all of which we’ve seen." -- Wilson, Steve, "Baby Care Controversy," WXYZ-Detroit, November 14, 2004


Arnold Tanis, MD, FAAP
1999 recipient, John H. Whitcomb Outstanding Pediatrician Award, presented by the Florida Pediatric Society and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

"There is no scientific basis whatsoever in their philosophy....It is contrary to what nature intended.

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Watch Your Baby's Signs of Hunger

Although Babywise says to feed a hungry baby, it usually instructs parents to observe a time interval between feedings, or a certain order of events, such as only feeding the baby after she wakes up. There's another way to tell that your baby is hungry. You can watch your baby for her own signs of hunger.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends watching for the following early signs or cues by which your baby lets you know when she's hungry.

  • Small movements as she starts to awaken
  • Whimpering or lip-smacking
  • Pulling up arms or legs toward her middle
  • Stretching or yawning
  • Waking and looking alert
  • Putting hands toward her mouth
  • Making sucking motions
  • Moving
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Maternal use of parent led routines associated with short breastfeeding duration.

Published Feb 12, 2014
Brown A, Arnott B (2014) Breastfeeding Duration and Early Parenting Behaviour: The Importance of an Infant-Led, Responsive Style. PLoS ONE 9(2): e83893. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083893

"Results: Formula use at birth or short breastfeeding duration were significantly associated with low levels of nurturance, high levels of reported anxiety and increased maternal use of Parent-led routines . Conversely an infant-led approach characterised by responding to and following infant cues was associated with longer breastfeeding duration."

Raising Emotionally Healthy Children - 2014 Video

This KET Special Report looks at the importance of social and emotional development in the first years of life, featuring experts on infant and child development in Kentucky.

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Our first child was born in the summer of 09, and I promptly began trying to apply the Babywise method. The book had been highly recommended by a distant relative, and promised structure and sanity amidst the exhaustion and upheaval I felt as a new mother. However, our baby did not respond the way the book promised he would if we followed the schedule. All my attempts to adhere to the book led to deep frustration, arguments with my husband (who knew better than to let a book dictate our newborn's schedule), feeling like a failure, and the worst--resentment of my infant. Why couldn't he sleep and eat like the book said he should be doing? The Ezzos presented their arguments as infallible.
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Babywise and Preparation for Parenting

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Key Documentation

Excommunication Statement

Statement about Ezzo - Materials

Statement about Ezzo - Character

"The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International"
(originally titled "More than a Parenting Ministry")

(orginally titled "A Matter of Bias?")

Unprepared to Teach Parenting?

Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation

Media Alert