Introduction: Growing Families International [GFI] has been controversial within the Christian church for a long time. With the publication of Babywise, the Ezzos extended their influence into the secular world.
Purpose: To illustrate that the present-day controversy surrounding Ezzo is the consequence of longstanding patterns of behavior and questionable advice.
Why Read This? To avoid repeating history and to evaluate the Ezzos' suitability to provide guidance in infant care and parenting.
In the spring of 2006, details of Eric Abel's departure from GFI came under question. It was brought to my attention by Tom Reed, a teacher of GFI parenting classes, that this timeline had omitted Mr. Abel's intermediate employment at GFI after he resigned as Director of Ministry while he job-hunted. The implication was that this circumstance negated the Abels' concerns. I contacted the Abels to ask about this.
Eric and Julie Abel's email of 5/19/06 explains:
It is no secret that while we parted company with the Ezzos in 1994, Eric served as a graphic designer until a new position could be found. During those days, our relationship was tenuous, and despite the growing differences, the Ezzos were gracious to agree to keep us functionally employed through February 1996.
Our extended departure may be better understood when you consider that we were cofounders of this organization. We were not merely employees but “ministry partners.” Other than the Ezzos, we were the most highly visible personalities in the organization. Julie and I were featured guests on virtually all of their audio & video products, which continued to be sold years after our departure. In fact, Preparation for Parenting was originally dedicated to Julie’s influence. This depth of involvement added complexity to our leaving as we did not wish to cause harm to the organization, to the Ezzos, or to the many friends and family who were also involved in a deep way. Our influence was dominant and we chose to move away slowly and amiably.
We were fully entrenched into a culture and belief system that made our departure drawn out. Our personal identity was tied to a cult-like involvement including family, friends, church, school, and ministry. Additionally, we had a close relationship with the Ezzos and their children. Our separation was not harsh but took sensitivity and grace by both parties.
Also, Mr. Reed is entirely mistaken when he implies that we were asked to resign. We voluntarily stepped down from leadership as we could no longer support the direction of the Ezzos or their organization. Mr. Reed may want to get clarification by the Ezzos as I am sure they will agree that our overbearing concern at the time was their lack of accountability, an issue that seems to have haunted them throughout their life.
It is admirable that the Ezzos have an advocate in Mr. Reed but I am afraid that no one will ever fully understand the depth and breadth of the relational issues surrounding those that have broken ties with the Ezzos, including their own children and closest friends. We are hopeful, that despite all the problems, God will continue to perfect all of us to His glory….someway…somehow.
Eric & Julie Abel