Divisiveness in Babywise and GKGW

Critics say Ezzo's presentation in Babywise and Growing Kids God's Way can cause divisions in churches, friendships and families.

Summary of Concerns

  • False picture of choices. Babywise and GKGW present a false choice between a method which produces ease for parents and obedient, godly, respectful children, or a descent into family "chaos" and disobedient, ungodly offspring. Evidence is missing to prove the outcomes aside from the comparison of two imaginary children, one who flourishes because her parents wisely chose the Ezzos' material, while the other grows up to be a selfish person since her parents didn't.  The false dilemma sows misunderstanding and disrespect between parents.

  • Insults parents who don't follow his teachings. Ezzo claims that those who don't follow his methods are "in their thinking, [only] Christian up to a point," naive, frequently fail to notice when their babies are sick, respond to their babies' cries without rational consideration, and become pushovers whose children can't accept delayed gratification, are unruly and academically disadvantaged.

  • Insults health care professionals. Babywise teaches parents that health care providers who don't support the book's methods are not up-to-date enough to grasp Babywise's breastfeeding benefits, or else are biased by their professional training (2001, p. 100).

  • Rhetoric that plays on fear, shame and guilt. The material plays on fears of unmanageable children, shaming parents for not seeking "God's way," and creating guilt when parents face challenges most would recognize as normal stages of child development and parenting. As followers reflect these messages to their friends and church community, it alienates them.

  • Double messages and shifting definitions make for confusion over the basic principles and how they are intended to be implemented. These double messages make it possible to refute any criticism simply by quoting whichever side of the double message will serve the purpose. Communication that might resolve divisions comes to a stand-off.

  • An us/them world. The false choices mentioned above are sometimes taken to a higher level where one is either an insider who is safely part of the "GFI community" or an ignorant, distrusted outsider.

  • Questioning the information is not encouraged. To disagree with or openly question Ezzo's material arouses suspicion that one is disloyal and not properly committed to "God's way" of parenting. Class leaders are told not to allow open disagreement with what is taught during class time. This leaves participants who have questions isolated and prevents peers from hearing their concerns about the material.

Essential Reading:

"Growing Kids God's Way?: A Critique of Growing Families International"
by Dr. Barbara Francis

"More Than A Parenting Ministry" | PDF version
by Kathleen Terner and Elliott Miller, Christian Research Journal, Christian Research Institute

On Becoming Childwise: A Critique
by Laurie Moody

Conflicting Messages--A Review of Babywise 2001
by Kathy Thile

It's One or the Other--And Other Myths that Hooked Us
A Parent's Insights

For Further Information:

More Critiques, Reviews and Analyses