How Ezzo's Child-Rearing Philosophy Impacts
Psychosocial and Physical Development
Cheryl A. Tyler
Peabody College of Vanderbilt University
In 1984 Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo began a small parenting
class at Sun Valley's Grace Community Church. Today,
Ezzo claims that his books and child rearing methods
have reached over a million homes. He uses words and
phrases to sway the reading audience to follow his rigid
method of feeding and discipline without question even
though he has no education or experience in pediatrics,
child development, neurology or lactation. The result
has been hundreds of babies who have suffered from failure
to thrive and have permanent physical damage. The long-term
emotional damage has yet to surface as Ezzo babies are
under the age of 20.
(Please note that references to the Ezzo & Bucknam
On Becoming series are made by the title rather than
the reference of Ezzo & Bucknam, 2001.)
How Ezzo's Child-Rearing Philosophy
Psychosocial and Physical Development
Gary Ezzo claims that his childrearing method has reached
over a million homes. Borders, Inc., the bookstore chain,
states the Ezzos are joining the ranks of the top-selling
baby authors such as Dr. Sears and Penelope Leach (Carton,
1998). The methods are packaged for two audiences: On
Becoming books are sold to the general public; however
the bulk of his support comes from the Christian community,
and the Growing Kids God's Way is laced in legalism
and heavy discipline for sinful children. Both books
present a rigid feeding schedule and pressure to not
naturally bond with the infant. This paper is a look
at Ezzo's philosophy and how it fails to meet the developmental
needs of children.
On Becoming An Ezzo Product: An Introduction
The Books and Video Tapes
Gary Ezzo and his wife Anne Marie began a small parenting
class in 1984 after church members commented on how
well-behaved their two daughters were. By 1989 Ezzo's
Growing Families International (GFI) became a for-profit
corporation. The original book was Preparation for Parenting.
That book became On Becoming Babywise I and On Becoming
Babywise II, with religious references removed (Webb,
January 2000). In his On Becoming books, Ezzo uses phrases
to set a mental tone and sway the reader (words in parenthesis
are used in Growing Kids God's Way): For a child-centered
(humanistic) home Ezzo uses the adjectives "strive"
and "yearn"; for the parent-centered (Godly)
home, the adjectives are "understand" and
"compliance" (On Becoming Babywise I, p. 25).
The Growing Kids God's Way series comes with video tapes.
On the tapes, as well as in the seminars, parents are
told to not question what they are being taught, nor
are the participants allowed to discuss this parenting
method outside of class. Furthermore, parents are not
to discuss this with health professionals (Babywise
Concerns, 2003: Prewett, 1994).
Many parents will not change the feeding program even
when health professionals warn that children must have
increased feedings. It is only after children are diagnosed
with a fatal outcome that parents will come forth with
the source of their parenting method (Webb, January
2000). Behavior like this has caused the Christian Research
Institute to state that GFI exhibits "a pattern
of cultic behavior with elements identified as Scripture-twisting,
authoritarianism, exclusivism, isolationism and physical
and emotional endangerment" (Stewart, 2000).
Dr. T. Berry Brazelton says, "I'm horrified. I'm
absolutely horrified . . ." (Krantz, 1999). Author
William Sears says "Babywise is probably the most
dangerous program of teaching about babies and children
that I have seen in my 25 years of being a pediatrician."
Dr. James Dobson has issued a statement of nonsupport
for Ezzo's child rearing methods (Webb, January 2000).
What are Gary Ezzo's credentials that cause physicians
and therapists to speak out against him?
Ezzo, the Man
The core theme of the On Becoming books is the moral
child. Yet, Gary Ezzo displays anything but a moral
man. The cover of On Becoming books states his authorship:
Gary Ezzo, M.A. However, he only has only earned a high
school diploma and masters of arts in ministry for persons
who get life-experience credit (Aney, 2001). Ezzo claims
to have a business degree from Mohawk Community College,
and states a major and grade point average. The school
says he never graduated. Ezzo has permitted persons
to call him "Dr. Gary Ezzo" in advertisements
and on the radio without correcting them, even when
shown a mock-up of the advertisement prior to printing
(Terner, 2000). Parents expect Ezzo to be a professional
whose credentials are truthful.
The second author, Robert Bucknam is a pediatrician
whose name was put on the first books only after they
were written (Aney, et al., 2001). Anne Marie Ezzo claims
to be a pediatric nurse, but in fact she only spent
two years in pediatrics at Concord Hospital in Concord,
NH over twenty years ago (Carton, et al., 1998). While
Ezzo states he has a review board of physicians and
specialists, he will not give their names because "they
are busy people who do not want to be bothered"
(Aney, et al., 2001; Terner, et al., 2000). Aney also
suggests that the research in On Becoming Babywise I
(p. 51) is not a random sample, but one of convenience
for Ezzo to prove his child-rearing method is successful.
In August 1999, it was confirmed by an accounting firm
that $500,000 was embezzled by Ezzo's son-in-law, Robert
Garcia, a GFI officer. Ezzo called auditors, but when
it came to light how much money was actually involved,
Ezzo changed his story and said he loaned Garcia the
money. Church officials at Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship
suggested that he take a leave of absence due to the
stress from the money-issue, and to allow time for the
rumors to subside. Ezzo began spreading lies about the
leadership to the point he was excommunicated on April
30, 2000, because of "truthfulness, Christian character,
and accountability" (Terner, et al., 2000; Babywise
Concerns, et al., 2003).
Gary Ezzo has also been in trouble at two other churches
over the last twenty years. At Sun Valley's Grace Community
Church, pastored by author John MacArthur where the
ministry originated, Ezzo served as a staff member and
elder at this church. He was undergoing a disciplinary
process at this church when he left. The church leadership
publicly rebuked him in October 1997 due to "divisiveness."
They stated that the Ezzo method of child rearing was
"fraught with danger
it obscures what is Biblical"
(Terner, et al., 2000). They state that he confuses
"biblical standards with personal preference"
(Rosin, 1999). More than 15 years ago, Ezzo was asked
to "step down as pastor-teacher in part due to
his divisive conduct" from his church, His Vantage
Point Church, in Laconia, New Hampshire (Terner, et
In February 2001 Multnomah began investigating the controversy
to defend Ezzo. Multnomah had no medical editors to
review the books' medical claims such as children who
are fed on Ezzo's schedule "rarely suffer from
colic" (Cutrer, 2001). After much research, Jeff
Gerke, the editor assigned to the books, declared Ezzo's
methods as dangerous. Integrity concerns heightened
Gerke's worry when he found that Robert Bucknam had
lied about being a faculty member at Colorado's Medical
School; the truth is medical students have only toured
his facility and nothing more. As well, when Bucknam
became a "co-author," he had only been in
practice one year and had met Ezzo in a parenting class.
One reference listed on the On Becoming Preteen Wise
was a marriage and family counselor who had an expired
license that was not renewable. Ezzo began to self-publish
in 2001 (Cutrer, et al., 2001).
Ezzo's response to media critics has been to: concoct
a disparaging interview transcript and demand that a
reporter be fired; ask that a critic of his materials
be criminally prosecuted. Another time he wanted to
obtain legal information to report Grace Community's
John MacArthur to the IRS. Professional critics are
called "anti-God." Christians who come against
Ezzo are called "wicked" and "humanistic"
(Terner, et al., 2000). Obviously, Ezzo is an example
of "do as I say, not as I do!" Yet, parents
and thousands of churches submit Ezzo's legalism without
question-like the followers of David Koresh and Jim
Due to the massive amount of information, I will limit
this paper to parenting issues in the first two years
of life, with only a few comments on the teen years.
The lines between physical and psychosocial are sometimes
almost blurred. For example bonding is a physical attachment
as well as mental. Ezzo's methods in these critical
first months of a baby's life have implications for
life-long physical and mental disorders, and even death.
The long-term emotional damage has yet to surface as
Ezzo babies are under the age of 20.
The Development of a Child
From birth to age one, developmental theorists generally
agree that infants learn to trust their caregivers.
Both Freud and Erikson concur that responsive parenting
is critical to the infant's development. The second
year a toddler's need is to assert their will and learn
to be autonomous (Sigelman & Rider, et al., 2003,
p. 29). Dreikurs (1990, p. 14) states that the child
is a social being and its "strongest motivation
is the desire to belong." He writes that much has
been said about shaping a child's character, but a child
is "an active and dynamic entity" (p. 32).
The Ezzo method of child rearing goes against all theories
of development, and beyond parental support to parental
control. There is behavior control in the area of responsibilities,
and then there is psychological control where the parent
takes control over "feelings, verbal expressions,
identity, and attachment bonds" (Barber, 2001,
p. 4). This psychological control counters healthy child
development (p. 15). It is defined as "patterns
of family interaction that intrude upon or impede the
child's individualism process, or the relative degree
of psychological distance a child experiences from his
or her parents and family" (p. 18). Ezzo does not
see a child as an individual, and his method is full
of psychological control.
Physical Concerns for the Ezzo Child
In 1998, the Santa Clara Valley Breastfeeding Task Force
issued a statement that said Ezzo's parent-directed
feeding (PDF) was "likely to contribute to serious
health problems for the infant most likely dehydration
and poor weight gain, leading to malnutrition, learning
difficulties and other developmental problems"
(Stewart, et al., 2000). Aney (et al., 2001) states
that: lactation professionals and other healthcare providers
have "noted an unprecedented increase of . . .
failure to thrive (among infants) on the Ezzo program."
Infants who receive inadequate nutrition show growth
retardation (Sigelman & Rider, 2003, p. 117).
Ezzo writes in On Becoming Babywise I (p. 47) that babies
do not know how to regulate their hunger, so the parent
must do that. When infants are fed on his parent-directed
feeding (PDF) program the hunger patterns will stabilize.
Ezzo asserts that the absence of a routine (i.e. feeding
on demand) will "confuse the baby and make him
insecure." He also states: "the quality of
breast milk is inadequate in 5 percent of women, and
that controlled feeding in the first weeks of life won't
lead to dehydration" (Stewart, et al., 2000).
The Ezzo feeding schedule is every 2 ½ to 3 hours
if the infant is breast-fed, or every 3 to 4 hours if
the child is bottle-fed. While Ezzo speaks of flexibility
in the schedule, he spends a greater amount of time
reminding the parents of the infant's me-ism demands
and need for the security of a schedule. The schedule
listed in the book as an example is 7:00 am, 10:00 am,
1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and finally 10:00 pm. (p.
48). Children are to nurse no more than fifteen to twenty
minutes on each side (p. 171).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that
a newborn should be nursed whenever "they show
signs of hunger, such as increased alertness or activity,
mouthing, or rooting. Crying is a late indicator of
hunger. Newborns should be nursed 8-12 times in a 24-hour
period" (Aney, et al., 2001).
So what happens after 10:00 pm for the Ezzo baby? The
Ezzo research states that 86.9% of the breast-fed girls
and 76.8% of the boy were sleeping through the night
between seven and nine weeks (p. 51). This is accomplished
through ignoring their infant's cry for up to 45 minutes.
By the age of six months an Ezzo baby is expected to
be on three meals a day with a bedtime bottle/nursing
and with no snacks or in-between fluids (Stewart, et
al., 2000; On Becoming Babywise II).
For babies who become dehydrated or need hospitalization
and intensive feeding, the Ezzos say that their feeding
schedule is not the problem. Instead, it must be something
else such as improper nursing techniques or failure
(on the part of the parent) to keep tabs on how much
the infant is eating (Carton, et al., 1998).
Highly educated people have followed Ezzo's feeding
program to the letter and their children have been hospitalized
for dehydration and failure to thrive. Appendix A is
an open letter from Michael and Michelle Hsieh whose
son became anorexic and spent months on a feeding tube
after following Ezzo's feeding program and highchair
manners to the letter.
Bowlby defines attachment is the emotional bond that
develops between a parent and child (Woodward, Fergusson,
& Belsky, 2000). Ezzo says "research does not
confirm the importance of bonding right after birth"
(On Becoming Baby Wise I, p. 192) and that too much
cuddling will spoil the child. In Growing Kids God's
Way, Ezzo says that children are born self-oriented
(p.24) and that moral training of children includes
self-control from the very beginning. The child whose
parents who give continual feedback and stimulation
are considered child-centered and this leads to the
moral decline of the child by "fostering me-ism"
(p. 65). Ezzo states in On Becoming Babywise I, that
me-ism is "emotionally crippling" (p. 23).
He suggests that: "in addition to feeding, changing,
and bathing your baby, you might have at least one playtime
a day when the baby has your full attention for fifteen
minutes or so" (p. 130-emphasis is mine).
Early intervention of the parent with the child sets
the stage for later life attachments. The warm, responsive
parent forms a secure attachment that will become increasingly
stable and resistant to change over time. The parent
who is rejecting or inconsistent gives rise to a child
who is avoidant of parental contact. The lifelong development
of secure attachment of the child depends on the stability
of the childrearing environment over time (Woodward,
et al., 2000). A significant number of children who
experience early attachment deprivation fail to develop
normal normally, and they need therapeutic intervention
In a study of individual differences, researchers have
found that sensitivity to infant signals establishes
the nature of infant attachment. Parental sensitivity
is considered to be a key element in the development
of security in the child. Secure attachment is thought
to come from "consistent and appropriate responsiveness
to infant signals" (Goldberg, et al., 2000, p.
Studies prove that secure infants had mothers who were
"flexible and emotionally expressive," while
mothers of "future avoidant infants were more rigid
and less expressive" (p. 63). Avoidant infants
are defined as behavior where the infant seems unconcerned
with the mother's presence or absence (p. 10). Mothers
of avoidant infants were described as "rejecting-slow
to respond to distress and uncomfortable with close
body contact" (p. 24). Research has further verified
that mothers who use a cloth carrier or sling, "promotes
greater maternal awareness and response to infant signals."
Babies from study groups assessed at one year showed
that 68% of infants of responsive mothers were secure
as compared to 28% of the control group (p. 61).
Appendix B is the testimony of a family who did not
attend to their son's cries-once again following the
Ezzo plan exactly as written. By age four the child
had an attachment and anxiety disorder. This mother
states that an attachment disorder (with autism ruled
out) is not fully curable because it is a "function
of brain change." The DSM-IVTR states that the
general medical conditions for a child under five to
have an attachment disorder is "associated with
extreme neglect" (p. 128).
The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County,
California report that Ezzo programs failed to "promote
self-esteem, aren't age appropriate and don't provide
a healthy balance to love and discipline" (Carton,
et al., 1998). An Ezzo child is considered to be healthy
to the degree that (s)he is compliant without question
and obedient to parental demands. By the age of two,
children are expected to obey the first time or they
are chastised (On Becoming Babywise II, p 129). There
are countless documented cases where children under
the age of four receive constant corporal punishment
for behaviors that were developmentally healthy (Francis,
The information on spanking is very limited in the On
Becoming books. However, in the Growing Kid's God's
Way, three chapters are devoted to spanking, even to
the type instrument to use; Biblical passages are used
to support Ezzo's theory. Children as young as 14 months
are spanked with three to five swats (per incidence);
older children receive more (an ambiguous term that
could result in abuse). Ezzo writes: "75 to 80
percent of all spankings will take place between 14
and 40 months. The last 20 percent will come sporadically
over the next ten years" (i.e. when a child is
around 13½ years of age) (Ezzo & Ezzo, 1997,
p. 218). Ezzo claims that pain (of spanking) "plays
a part in the developmental process." He explains
that pain is the "natural outcome of wrong behavior,"
and it needs to be "artificially created"
A 1998 volume of Marriage & Family: A Christian
Journal from the American Association of Christian Counselors
devoted a section to spanking. Larzelere (1998) provides
research to show that in exclusive spanking parents
of 12-to-15-month-old children, the children were more
aggressive. In 25-to-38-month old children that a combination
of reasoning and spanking brought longer lasting results.
He states that spanking of 6-to-9-year-olds is counter-productive
and increases anti-social behavior. The spanking of
teenagers shows detrimental outcomes.
In the same journal Lowe (1998) reviews spanking from
a Biblical perspective, and presents the problems when
parents spank and are abusive. The ambiguity of "a
few swats" might be interpreted as a swat on a
clothed bottom, or with a belt exerting extreme force
on a naked bottom.
Ezzo (1998) responds to the Larzelere and Lowe articles
with a four-page commentary citing only one reference;
he provides no research to support his claims that spanking
is the most effective form of discipline for children.
Instead he begins with a scenario of a child running
toward a busy street, and then begins an emotional tirade
of saying that non-spanking advocates are anti-God because
spanking is linked to the Bible. He ends by saying that
discipline (i.e. spanking) is the process for training
that leads to moral development, and to not spank is
"an act of surrender to secularists."
Sigelman & Rider (et al., 2003) write that 80% of
American adults believe that children occasionally need
a spanking. However, research shows that it is best
to use more positive punishment before administering
a spanking. On page 36 is a list of what is necessary
for spanking to be effective. One is "administered
by an otherwise affectionate parent." Ezzo parent's
lack of bonding might have an adverse reaction here,
and the parent will be further seen as an adversary.
There is also a warning that spanking might make children
"resentful and anxious."
Free Exploration of the Child's World
Sigelman & Rider (et al., 2003, p. 259) state that
infants desire to master their environment. The term
the authors use is "mastery motivation" when
children struggle to open cabinets and figure out how
toys work. Sensorimotor development is the stage of
cognitive development from birth to age two, and when
Piaget says children construct new understandings of
their environment and should be permitted to explore
their world. Erikson says this period in a child's life
is when they learn to trust or doubt their abilities
as they explore and become autonomous.
Ezzo is against giving a child the opportunity to freely
explore. His term "developmental confusion,"
means "what happens when a child gets more freedom
than he or she is ready for" (Webb, February 2000).
Another Ezzo term "developmental deprivation"
is used to describe a child's "best opportunities
to learn" (the term and subsequent definition is
a bit confusing to this reader). Ezzo believes that
a child becomes learning deprived when (s)he is permitted
to have "impetuous and momentary desires to be
their prime source of learning." The nonrestrictive
theory or trial-and-error, Ezzo says, is inferior to
proactive teaching. For example, to generalize a concept,
a child must have a parent there saying "don't
touch the stereo" (On Becoming Babywise II, p.
70). He believes that structured alone time in the playpen,
time alone in their room, and time with the family is
far superior to autonomous investigation.
Ezzo suggests that a one-month-old child needs to begin
spending daily awake time, and even a nap, in the playpen
(p. 130). In On Becoming Babywise II (p. 73), Ezzo says
that playpen time benefits a child's by: developing
mental focusing skills, sustaining attention span, creativity
("creativity is the product of boundaries"),
self-play adeptness, and orderliness. However, according
to Sigelman & Rider (et al., 2003, p. 140) infants
who are presented a stimulus over and over again will
It appears Ezzo has his own developmental theory. In
the Foreward of On Becoming Babywise II, Bucknam writes:
"we base this book on a moral model of child development"
(p. 9). For Ezzo, though, a moral issue is a child who
drops his food on the floor, runs in the hall, or does
not say please. This is found throughout the Ezzo and
Moral development studies tend to look at children ages
6-16, so a 5-to-15-month-old child is not developmentally
ready for such rigid training as Ezzo suggests. Studies
have shown that parents are of greater influence than
peers in moral development, but parental responsiveness
was directly related to moral development (Walker &
Hennig, 1999). It is my opinion that a parent who has
not bonded properly with their child is then is at a
disadvantage for moral training.
When my children were babies, our very old pediatrician
told me that when they were ready to potty train, it
would happen overnight. Indeed, with my older daughter
at age two she decided she was ready and in two days
she was trained. Our second child was close to three
when she was potty trained; we tried to force her around
her second birthday to no avail. It was within her personality
to move slower than her older sister whose goal was
to wear "big girl panties" to daycare.
Ezzo suggests that training begin between 18 and 24
months. However, the training is as rigid as his feeding
schedule, even though he states to be relaxed and give
your child a chance. Children are expected to sit on
the potty, and obey the first time. Any child over 30
months is held accountable for their accidents and should
clean themselves up and their clothing, without (it
is implied) parental assistance (On Becoming Babywise
II, pg 127).
How can a child clean itself after an accident, when
dressing is still developmentally inappropriate? At
the age of 30 months a child does not have fluid, rhythmic
strides nor is their eye-hand coordination developed
(Sigelman & Rider, et al., 2003). A child of this
age is just entering the preoperational stage of cognitive
development and they see things from a single dimension.
A child in this development period is "driven by
how things look rather than from logical reasoning."
Children combine unrelated facts, and this leads them
to faulty cause-effect conclusions. If a child is reprimanded
for soiling itself at an age when (s)he might not be
ready to be toilet trained, they may-in my opinion-develop
a distorted self-concept.
The Psychosocial Concerns for the Ezzo Child
A parent's response to their child is developmentally
critical for an emotionally healthy child.
The Ezzos believe that children are born with a predisposition
for "moral waywardness" (Growing Kids God's
Way, p. 19). One mother posted on Ezzo's website: "to
her 'astonishment', her 6-month-old began arching his
back and fussing when she put him in a highchair. 'It's
so sad to see that they're really sinners'" (Rosin,
et al., 1999). Thinking your child is a 'sinner' or
"morally wayward' sets the tone for the way parents
respond to their children. (See Appendix C).
Responding to Infant Cries
Ezzo claims that permissive parenting leads to "many
learning disorders, including difficulty in sitting
and concentrating" (On Becoming Baby Wise I, p.
54). "Emotional mothering" Ezzo claims sets
the stage for "child abuse," which he defines
as the "tendency to direct thoughtless, impassioned
responses toward innocent children . . . and a child
trained to be demanding" (On Becoming Baby Wise
I, p. 151). Ezzo teaches that a baby's cries are at
odds with scripture, and should be ignored unless they
last past 45 minutes (Prewett, et al., 1994).
Ezzo tries to calm the worried parent to not respond
to an infant's cries through various situations that
a responsive parent would eventually learn through trial
and error. He writes that an over-stimulated child will
fight off sleep through crying. He claims that crying
is a normal part of the baby's day, but that by not
responding to cries the future will bring a baby who
"goes down for a nap without fussing and wakes
of cooing" (On Becoming Babywise I, p. 130).
A child who wakes up crying, according to Ezzo, is one
who is not getting enough sleep, and the parent should
not go pick up their baby. (What about a sick child
or one who might have had a mobile fall on him, for
example?) Instead they should wait for the child to
go back to sleep in another ten minutes (p. 134). Ezzo
parents have been known to let their children cry for
three hours, even when blood was found in the infant's
throat (Rosin, et al., 1999).
Since infants cannot access their parent's cognitions,
the parent-infant relationship must be mediated through
the parent's interactions. Researchers have observed
that: "infants whose mothers were responsive to
their crying in the first 6 months, had a higher rating
of communication competence by 12 months" (Pederson,
Gleason, Moran & Bento, 1998). Older women with
larger families state they cannot stand to hear their
infant cry and respond because they do not want to "become
hardened," but remain "tender and protective"
(Prewett, et al., 1994). The result of parent non-responsiveness
are babies who no long make eye contact with their parents
and act fearful rather than trusting in their presence
High Chair Manners
Ezzo states that: a highchair is where a child can sit
for an extended period. While being fed an Ezzo child
is not permitted to: "flip a plate; play with,
drop or throw food; place messy hands in his hair; bang
on the tray; stand, arch the back; spit food or scream"
(On Becoming Babywise II, p. 61). If the child does
not respond to verbal correction, then they are isolated
in a crib and returned to the high chair to use correct
highchair manners. In addition to those listed, a child
as old as eight months is expected to keep their hands
away from the food and tray as well as use sign language
when they are finished. Parents have spent up to four
hours taking a young child from the highchair to isolation
without getting the proper signs or required Ezzo behavior
(Webb, et al., February 2000).
For a two-year old the world is a wonderful place to
explore. When a child as young as eight months is expected
to keep their hands out of their food, it is developmentally
inappropriate. The sensori-motor stage of development
for a baby this age is to shake a rattle and grasp an
object to put it in their mouth. A baby would then naturally
want to explore their food with their hands.
While in the high chair the eight-month-old baby is
required to use sign language to say "please,"
"thank you," and "I love you." The
developmental age for this to occur is 18-24 months
when a child is learning to solve problems mentally,
and uses symbols to stand for objects and actions (Sigelman
& Rider, et al., 2003).
A Brief Look At Adolescent and Teen
For the preteen and teenager, Ezzo states that the "nature
of progressive development reveals" that children
will "only choose peers over family if they have
either accepted or rejected their family identity"
(On Becoming Preteen Wise, p 138). That the hormones
will affect the body, but not the "values you place
in her heart" (p. 153). In Growing Kids God's Way,
he says: "peer pressure on a child is only as strong
as family identity is weak" (p. 272). From this
Ezzo tells parents that because of his childrearing
methods parents will "have the same influence as
peers have," and teens will not rebel.
Barber (et al., 1990, p. 150) states that behavioral
control that excludes adolescents from outside influences
and restricts social interactions limits the behavioral
experience results in a dependency on the parents; there
is limited or no self-expression unless it reflects
the parent's interests (p. 21). Research shows exclusion
from peers lowers achievement and grades (p. 42). It
is found to be positively related to "depression
and withdrawn behavior" (p. 34).
Ezzo also does not take into account the research that
the influence of peer groups and over-abundance of risky
behavior is part of the brain and chemical changes.
Adolescents experience a change in the pre-frontal cortex
goes through a wild growth spurt that involves control
of emotions and decision making (Sigelman & Rider,
et al., 2003; Bradley, 2002).
I have observed teens that have been raised on the Ezzo
program. They act just like my non-Ezzo teen in the
way they dress and manner by which they want to draw
attention to themselves. Since Ezzo children are just
entering their teens, it is a whole new world as to
what to expect. I suspect there will be the children
who determine to hit the road at age 18. Then there
are others like one young man I know who has been home
schooled, clepped college, and is now studying law on-line.
Ezzo teens will enter their twenties with little experience
outside their own restrictive homes, and how will they
meet the world challenges?
Conclusion: A Final Thought
From the beginning of my experience with Ezzo parents,
I have been concerned about the look on the children's
faces. The children have few smiles and are hypervigilant
to their parent's every request. This is more than just
a child who obeys out of love and respect for their
parent, but one who is a "Stepford" child.
Parents coo at the idea of a well-behaved child, but
miss the obvious lack of natural attachment and the
pleasant surprises that a healthy child who has been
allowed to develop according to his temperament and
If there are indeed a million children being raised
with the Ezzo rigidity, then therapists, pastors and
physicians should be ready to deal with the myriad of
psychological issues that will be presenting over the
next century. They will see everything from anti-social
behavior to a person who cannot trust God because they
never came to trust their parents.
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and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edition:
Text revision. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological
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"God's order"? The Journal of Perinatal Education,
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25, 2003, from http://www.ezzo.info/Aney/hseihtestimony.pdf
Babywise Concerns. (n.d.). John MacArthur comments on
Gary Ezzo's break with Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship.
Retrieved July 25, 2003, from http://www.ezzo.info/GCC/macarthur.htm.
Babywise Concerns. (n.d.). Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship's
statement about Gary Ezzo.
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control affects children and adolescents. Washington,
DC: American Psychological Association.
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WA: Harbor Press.
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Ezzos sell parents some tough advice: Don't spare the
rod-couple's Spartan methods for feeding, discipline
nuture growing outcry-a rubber spatula is fine. Wall
Street Journal, A1.
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Ezzo, G. (1998). Commentary on spanking articles by
Larzelere and Lowe. Marriage & Family: A Christian
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wise. Simi Valley, California: Parent-Wise Solutions.
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wise: Book two. Simi Valley, California: Parent-Wise
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Ezzo, G., & Bucknam, R. (2001). On becoming preteen
wise. Simi Valley, California: Parent-Wise Solutions.
Ezzo, G., & Bucknam, R. (2001). On becoming teen
wise. Simi Valley, California: Parent-Wise Solutions.
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Goldberg, S. (2000). Attachment and development. London:
Kranz, C. (1999, November 5). Our parents' panel poses
questions to child development expert. Enquirer Local
Larzelere, R.E. (1998). Effective vs. counterproductive
parental spanking: Toward more light and less heat.
Marriage & Family: A Christian Journal, 1(2), 179-192.
Lowe, D.W. (1998). To spank or not to spank: It's not
that simple. Marriage & Family: A Christian Journal,
Pederson, D.R, Gleason, K.E., Moran, G., & Bento,
S. (1998). Maternal attachment representations, maternal
sensitivity, and the infant-mother attachment relationship.
Developmental Psychology, 34(5), 925-933.
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A biblical and practical critique of Gary and Anne Marie
Ezzo's Preparation for Parenting: A Biblical Perspective.
Retrieved on July 25, 2003 from http://www.ezzo.info.
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children draws fire: 'Babywise' guides worry pediatricians
and others. The Washington Post, A01.
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development. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Stewart, M. (2000). Growing controversy. Insight on
the News, 16(11), 28-29.
Terner, K. (2000). Unprepared to teach parenting? Christianity
Today, 44(13), 70-72.
Walker, L.J. & Hennig, K.H. (1999). Parenting style
and the development of moral reasoning. Journal of Moral
Education, 28(3), 359-375.
Webb, C. (2000, January). Baby wise? Be wary! Who is
Gary Ezzo and why do baby and child care professionals
find his advice so disturbing? Tulsa Kids, 18-20.
Webb, C. (2000, February). Baby wise? Be Wary! What
Ezzo doesn't know about child development may hurt your
baby. Tulsa Kids, 18-21.
Woodward, L., Fergusson, D.M., Belsky, J. (2000). Timing
of parental separation and attachment to parents in
adolescence: Results of a prospective study from birth
to age 16. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(1),