Focus on the Family Statement on GFI Materials
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 15:29:15 -0600
Thread-Topic: Response to Your Contact
From: "FOF Office of the President" <Ofcpres@fotf.org>
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 07 Sep 2004 21:29:16.0000
Thank you for writing to Focus on the Family. Your request for our input is welcome. In response to your inquiry and others like it, our staff has conducted an extensive evaluation of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzos materials on parenting. Allow me to summarize their findings and recommendations as succinctly as possible.
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 Gods Way_. These books have recently been re-titled _Along the Infant Way_ and _Along the Virtuous Way_, respectively (as part of a six-stage series called _Let the Children Come_), but according to GFI the text of both remains unchanged. First, it seems to us that the Ezzos philosophy of child rearing is far too rigid. The original title of the program, _Growing Kids Gods 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 that are both healthy and consistent with the teaching of Scripture.
Speaking of Scripture, Christian leaders have questioned
the Ezzos use of biblical texts in their parenting
materials, highlighting instances in which the authors
seem to ignore the original context and purpose of Scripture
in order to draw conclusions about their particular approach
to parenting. Similarly, a number of pediatric and child-rearing
experts have raised serious concerns about some of the
medical information presented in the Ezzos books
-- particularly the authors proposals regarding
controlled feeding schedules for infants. 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 dont
believe this information should be ignored.
Most troubling of all, when approached with these concerns by parents and professionals alike, the Ezzos have responded in an inappropriate manner. Rather than addressing head-on the valid questions that have been raised about their materials, the Ezzos routinely attack their critics and dismiss their concerns as anti-Christian. In addition, a number of respected publications, including _Christianity Today_, _World_, and _The Christian Research Journal_, have reported on character and accountability issues that have arisen between the Ezzos and several reputable churches. For these reasons we have chosen not to recommend the Ezzos curriculum to Focus on the Familys 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 contact us. May Gods grace, peace, wisdom, and blessing be yours in the days ahead.
Office of the President