Focus on the Family statement

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Thanks for your note, Mr. Rein. In response to your question, we would like to re-state our position on Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo's materials on parenting. The following is the result of an extensive evaluation by our staff.

We are aware that many parents have implemented the Ezzos' materials in their homes with great success. We have heard positive testimony from a number of sources, including members of our own staff, about the many ways in which God has used Growing Families International (GFI) to help young families achieve greater harmony and stability. Dr. Dobson has no reason to doubt that this is true; he is, in fact, pleased to know that so many families have found the Ezzos' materials helpful.

On the other hand, we do have some concerns and reservations about the Ezzos' work, including the updated editions of _Preparation for Parenting_ and _Growing Kids God's Way_. First, it seems to us that their philosophy of childrearing is far too rigid. The very title of program, _Growing Kids God's Way_ has an unnecessarily exclusivistic sound about it, as if there were only one "correct" and godly way to raise children and that all other methods were "unbiblical." In contrast to this, Dr. Dobson believes that there are many different approaches to raising children which are both healthy and consistent with the teaching of Scripture.

Speaking of Scripture, the Ezzo's use of biblical texts is, in our view, a second cause for serious concern. They have, for example, cited Matthew 27:46 -- ". . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" -- in support of their teaching that mothers should refuse to attend to crying infants who have already been fed, changed, and had their basic needs met. "Praise God," writes Mr. Gary Ezzo in _Preparation for Parenting_, "that the Father did not intervene when His son cried out on the cross." We see no way to make such an application of this verse without completely disregarding its original context and purpose.

Also, we are aware that the authors' proposals regarding controlled feeding schedules for infants are highly controversial. Some critics have suggested that they might possibly result in child abuse if applied legalistically, inflexibly, and without regard for circumstance and the special needs of individual children. In fact, our ministry has received numerous letters from parents, pastors, midwives, physicians, and lactation professionals regarding cases of failure-to-thrive in infants subjected to the Ezzos' program. We don't believe their experience should be ignored.

For these reasons we have chosen not to recommend the Ezzos' material to Focus on the Family's constituents. In the final analysis, we would suggest that, if a parent decides to use the GFI curriculum, its principles should be implemented only in conjunction with generous measures of common sense, intuition, and natural parental affection.

We hope these thoughts prove helpful. Thanks again for taking a moment to write.

Grey Gunn
Focus on the Family

  • 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
Read More

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

Free downloadable parent education brochure

research-based answers
print and share with your pediatrician
leave some with your health department
Give one to your pastor or Christian ed department

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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