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.
Gary Ezzo joined a conversation on an AOL message board for discussion of the Ezzo method. He had occasionally posted there to respond to questions under the screenname GnAM. In this instance, questions had been put to him by one or more people who disagreed with his ideas. Unfortunately the posts leading up to this response were not saved. I include several posts that followed Ezzo's post in order to show that the participants were mannerly, thoughtful communicators who found Ezzo's remarks to be demeaning. They never received a clarification or an apology, however.
Subj: White Flag, White Flag #1
95-07-08 16:45:25 EDT
Ladies, (and the few gentlemen crazy enough to join this conversations.) <g>
Wow, talk about women and emotions. (I read all the responses.) I feel like I walked into the hen house during egg laying. Nice network you ladies have. <g> I'm am waving the white flag. Don't shoot. Let me first say hello to Lisa M. and Rebecca Prewett. We consider you gifts from God, and major contributors to the success of our ministry. I'm sorry Rebecca I didn't get a chance to meet you in person when we were up visiting classes in Santa Maria. But it was nice to see Nancy again and to meet Lisa. Remember Lisa, our lunch invitation is still open when you get down to the Valley.
But on with business. Although, this going back and forth is fun, and probably more relaxing than a bad round of golf, and certainly more entertaining than the Dogers, ladies, I do have other more important activities to fill up my day, than the go nowhere debates with emotionally charged demand feeding mothers talking about demand feeding practices.
If you would like to continue a reasonable dialogue, lets take one issue at a time, agree to drop the demagoguery and proceed with some type of organizational sanity. If your not interested in that, may I suggest you go back to your other folders and play there. After all, this folder was set up for those involved and happy with the GFI curriculums and not for those who disagree and who are not exactly on the edge of agreement.
If you want to disagree and take up the time of other people who are not interested in your positions, we can set up a La Leche League/ Attachment Parenting/GFI/Demand Feeding/ Schedule Feeding bashing folder. That way everyone can give their opinion while respecting the original intent and purpose of other folders. After all, I'm sure other personalities in this section would not appreciate having the original intent of their folders violated by a network of disgruntled people, who fly their sorties in protest of what those other personalities believe, stand for and teach. What I'm saying is, let's all respect the original purpose of all the folders.
And one more thing. Would you join me in not saying, "You believe that. . . .," (or similar statements), or imposing your interpretation on someone else's beliefs. Lets stick with what you as an individual believe rather than taking a chance on reinterpreting and misinterpreting what other believe. That includes not taking thoughts and statements out of context. If anyone needs clarification on a point, let us ask in the spirit of Christ and not the spirit of fleshly debate. We can get to all of your questions but one at a time since this is a group discussion, and one that I personally welcome.
So, if we can agree on those rules of conduct, I would like to revisit what I considered to be the first topic PVHKK brought to this series. I invite all of you to join in, Prep and demand feeding mothers alike. Please state your views.
The first topic is this: What is the relationship of Isaiah 66:10-11 to breastfeeding. "Rejoice with Jerusalem. And be glad with her, all you who love her. Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied. With the consolation of her bosom. That you may drink deeply and be delighted. With the abundance of her glory."
What do the Ezzo's believe about this verse and its relationship to breastfeeding?
Next Post Please
Subj: Is. 66:10-11 cont.
95-07-08 16:54:48 EDT
The first topic is this: What is the relationship of Isaiah 66:10-11 to breastfeeding.
"Rejoice with Jerusalem. And be glad with her, all you who love her. Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied. With the consolation of her bosom. That you may drink deeply and be delighted. With the abundance of her glory."
What do the Ezzo's believe about this verse and its relationship to breastfeeding?
The primacy of the verse is prophesy. It is speaking of the now barren daughter of Zion, Jerusalem, who will one day give birth again as demonstrated by that fact that from her breast she will supply her children with nourishment.
It is poetic. The picture that emerges is one of gentleness, consolation, compassion, and caring. The symbol used is that of a mothers love to her nursing child. The comfort of the breast is the symbol the prophet used to communicate his message.
The text cannot be used to support the notion that the general philosophy of demand feeding is more compassionate than schedule feeding. Nor can it support that notion that the general philosophy of schedule feeding is more compassionate than demand feeding. Therefore, the text can not be used as a biblical support or a mandate for either philosophy of feeding.
The text cannot support the notion that demand feeding or schedule feeding is the preferred way to routinely communicate compassion, love, consolation or gentleness. We believe those are opinions drawn from ones experience but not from these verses or the Bible at large.
Your views on this passage are invited.
The next topic for discussion which came out of the above is the questions of compassion. What is compassion? Are acts of compassion objective or subjective? What determines the type of compassion shown to infants/children? Does compassion have moral limits?
Subj: Re:Is. 66:10-11 cont.
95-07-08 18:42:11 EDT
Dear Mr. Ezzo,
I guess my question--and I do appreciate being able to ask you, the head of an international organisation--relating to the passage in Isaiah 66 and PCF, would be whether it is considered appropriate for a mother to ever comfort her baby at the breast. I often used to praise God for the way that putting a baby to breast seemed to console an upset baby. Even when I didn't know what exactly was bothering my baby, having exhausted the possibilities that I could think of, putting to breast calmed and comforted. But when I listened to the Prep tapes (older version) when my youngest was a baby, I didn't hear any provision for this capacity of breastfeeding.
By the way, I know you didn't invite comment on your "White Flag" note, but I just wanted to comment that I thought that most every posting had been well reasoned, calm, and far from "emotional". Personally, I didn't think there was anyone who posted who deserved the sarcastic treatment you gave them. I think that it would certainly be appropriate for "posting in the spirit of Christ and not in fleshly debate" to begin with you, a pastor (correct?) and the leader of an international ministry, even if it had *not* been the spirit of other participants.
Subj: For Mr. Ezzo
95-07-09 11:09:57 EDT
From: Karen Faye
Dear Mr. Ezzo,
I am not part of any "network" of mothers on line, although I am familiar with some of the ladies who have posted in this folder throught other places they have posted.
I have been reading back and forth with much interest, as I am part of the ATI program where your teachings have become quite popular. I have sat in the nursing mothers' lounge in Knoxville and have heard many women express frustration that somehow they aren't quite the "perfect" homeschooling mothers because they don't schedule their children by your book or seminar. I have also listened to many moms lament the fact that their children aren't sleeping at night at 6 months or so and they are tired and frustrated. So I understand the need to find a balance between feeding a newborn infant on demand, in order to increase the milk supply, and in allowing an older nursing baby to run the show.
In my own experience, my babies needed to nurse alot at first, since they were all really big babies, the last one almost 11 pounds. But within a few weeks, the milk supply was established and they began to sleep 6-8 hours at night. I also found that during other times, right before a growth spurt, those babies needed to nurse alot during the day for several days in a row to increase the milk supply. I don't believe this is being manipulated by your child, but rather, being responsive to the physical make-up of the human nursing mother and the growing child, as well.
Those brief and IMHO 23 practical words being said, I also want to say that I found your tone and attitude toward woman to be very degrading and obnoxious. I do believe you owe an apology to the these mothers who are really trying to be the very best moms they can be. Your condescending attitude certainly is not winning you any points with them, or me for that matter, and is doing much more to reinforce the reputation I have heard about for some time now.
I also wish you would address something that someone said a few posts ago....isn't this topic best left to be taught by older women? I continue to be puzzled as to why, both here and on Compuserve, the topic of nursing, with an attitude against breastfeeding, through your program, is being taught solely by men. I find that odd....perhaps too odd. My dh 24 would never desire to be a breastfeeding expert and finds it inappropriate, to say the least, that this is being taught by you rather than your wife or another women. Could you please comment?
Subj: another thought
95-07-09 11:10:50 EDT
From: Karen Faye
I want to know if you think parents can raise their infants in a way other than your way and still be in the will of God.
I have, over the past couple of days, read through the posts and was tremendously impressed by the sensitivity, compassion, love, and Godliness expressed by so many of the women. And then your post compares them to a hen house at egg laying time - and that you have more important things to do than read through and respond to these posts. I am appalled by your response! If you are unable to answer questions put to you in all sincerity about your program, then simply say so. Your image is certainly not helped by your chauvinistic response. It reminds me of the old time OB who would pat the pregnant women on the head, "there, there, dearie, don't worry your pretty little head about it, I'll take care of it all."
It appeals to parents because of your promises that "do it my way and you'll be doing it God's way and, your baby will sleep through the night at 6 weeks. (5 if you're lucky)." (Paraphrase mine). Since when does feeding your baby when he needs to be fed - whether it be 8 times in 24 hours or 12 times in 24 hours; nursing him when he needs to be comforted, putting him to the breast when he is thirsty, putting him down for a nap when he is tired, changing his diaper when it is dirty, contitute rebellion and naughtiness on the part of the child? I weep for the mothers in your program - I've seen the computer printouts as they try to adhere to the Schedule - and have seen them grit their teeth as they attempt to ignore their baby's cry because it isn't "time" to do something yet.
YOu haven't responded to so many of the well placed questions. I have found that when I have questioned Prep moms about how and why they do things that they too shut me out. Questioning isn't allowed in your program? Just blind obedience to your tenents? I don't find anything Biblical about your feeding methods - if it was that important, surely Moses would have mentioned feeding babies by the sundial in Mosaic law - the law certainly is specific on many other aspects of life!
Your lack of respect for women and your superior attitude that came through on that post was outrageous! God has given women a heart for their children - call it motherly instinct (which your book denounces) - and a yearning to meet their needs when they cry.
Parents need to learn that the priniciples of attachment parenting as stated so well by Sears does not preclude discipline at the appropriate time. "Demand feeding" and discipline are not mutually exclusive. Neither is loving & cuddling & nursing at the breast exclusive from discipline. Nor is co sleeping, or wearing your baby in a sling. (Marsupial mothering, I believe you have referred to it rather sarcastically in your book).
I weep for the babies I have seen that are failure to thrive because the parents are trying to follow your rigid rules. For those babies that have been switched to formula because of the mothers on your program who "didn't have enough milk."
Frankly, Mr. Ezzo, your program scares me. It is evident in your writings that you know absolutely nothing about the art of breastfeeding or the science of lactation. Most pediatricians don't either, so the fact that you have a pediatrician co-authoring Babywise doesn't impress me in the slightest. I suggest that your program might work for those mothers who choose to formula feed rather than breastfeed. Perhaps if you took breastfeeding out of the equation, it would work better.
Subj: Letter to Mr. Ezzo
95-07-10 12:46:33 EDT
>>If anyone needs clarification on a point, let us ask in the spirit of Christ and not the spirit of fleshly debate. We can get to all of your questions but one at a time since this is a group discussion, and one that I personally welcome.<< 25
I agree. I fear that in a discussion of this type, there is a great danger of resorting to subtle attack and hurtful responses in order to better our "position." In fleshly debate, the person with the greatest command of the English language is the winner. If we indeed "ask in the Spirit of Christ," God's Word will be exalted and His wisdom will show forth.
You have inferred that *someone* in this folder has misinterpreted your teaching and has taken your statements out of context. I did not intend to do this. I do not believe that anyone has intentionally misrepresented you. If you ever see anything of this nature, it would be helpful if you would refute it specifically. It would be especially helpful if your responses were characterized by more kindness.
As we discuss these issues, let's take God's Words through Paul as our guide:
"But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord *must not quarrel but be gentle to all*, able to teach, patient, *in humility correcting those who are in opposition*, if God perhaps will grant them repentence, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." (II Timothy 2:23-26
I don't post this Scripture as an accusation, but as an admonition not only to you, but also to myself, and any one else who posts here.
Mr. Ezzo, I really enjoyed meeting you and your wife at the CHEA convention this weekend. I'm glad I took the time to hurry over between sessions. Perhaps it's providential that Reb Bradley's session ran over and we were able to talk as long as we did?
Ladies, the Ezzos are every bit as gracious in person as I have been told. For any of you who might be familiar with our dialogue, especially in the past, and have been concerned about it, I just wanted to say that Mr. Ezzo and I were able to hug despite our differences of opinion--and no one forced us to do so! <g>
MiniPeople, I felt that there was another session that was important for me to attend (actually there were three or four sessions at that time that I would have liked to attend) and so I did not attend the Ezzos' session on homeschool and marriage. Thus I can't really comment on it one way or the other.
Val, I came up with another possible benefit of larger families. A number of friends I saw this weekend (who haven't seen me in over three or four years) insisted that I look much younger now than I did when I only had three children. Maybe I've hit on some sort of beauty secret? <g>
Now I'm going to settle back and read all the posts I missed while I was gone.....
Ladies, ladies, ladies! Let's not be so quick to take offense at Mr. Ezzo's words. Perhaps he was merely *joking*--trying to inject some levity after the discussion of a little child tragically having to endure brain surgery.
[Note: A mother using GKGW had posted her concern that she would not be able to properly discipline her 4 year old according to GKGW following his brain surgery because the doctor had warned that crying would disrupt the healing process.]
Or perhaps he was commending a number of you on your expressions and descriptions of Christ-like motherhood. Remember that, when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, he said, "How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Mt. 23:37)
This most recent exchange, in my mind, just illustrates the wisdom of following Titus 2:3-5. God knew what He was doing in establishing certain roles within the family and within the church. There is a reason why older *women* are to teach the younger women to be good mothers and wives!
A few points of clarification....
Mr. Ezzo stated:
<< (I read all the responses.) >>
Yet later he stated:
<<I do have other more important activities to fill up my day, than the go nowhere debates with emotionally charged demand feeding mothers talking about demand feeding practices.>>
I also read all the posts and found that demand feeding practices were not the main topic of discussion. In fact, some of the mothers made quite clear that they did *not* demand feed their babies, especially using the narrow definition of "demand feeding" that has been stated in this folder. (By the way, when several
pediatricians instructed me to "feed on demand" during the early weeks, they went on to define it completely differently than it has been defined by Mr. Ezzo in this folder. I think there is quite a bit of confusion when terms are being used without agreed upon definitions. For a further point of clarification, I want to go on record stating that I am opposed to the sort of demand feeding that Mr. Ezzo has
described--the "don't think, just react" statement, for example. I'm still trying to discover the originator of that statement and really wish that Mr. Ezzo would steer me in the right direction by sharing his source. Please, if anyone runs across someone teaching this sort of position, let me know!)
My personal opinion (as a woman <g> ) is that the "debate" in this folder has been, with perhaps only a few, isolated exceptions, one of the most calm and rational discussions of this topic that I have encountered online thus far. I have especially appreciated the concern both "factions" have shown for one another in responding to Maureen's post, as well as the search for common ground.
<<After all, this folder was set up for those involved and happy with the GFI curriculums and not for those who disagree and who are not exactly on the edge of agreement.>>
The first post also invited questions from those who were not involved with GFI. In addition, ValJacob's statements led me to believe that she was "happy with" Prep for Toddlerhood, so I would think that her posts would still be welcome here. Or is this folder only for those who agree with every single aspect of all of GFI's materials? What about if they agree with about 90 percent?
<<If you want to disagree and take up the time of other people who are not interested in your positions, we can set up a La Leche League/ Attachment Parenting/GFI/Demand Feeding/ Schedule Feeding bashing folder.>>
Ah, but I don't think that would satisfy any of us here. Speaking for myself and reading into the tone and substance of the posts, I don't think any of the ladies here are interested in bashing anyone.
Plus, I really wish Mr. Ezzo would address the questions and concerns of those who have asked how to best implement his programs. I certainly don't want my questions to take precedent over theirs...although I am looking forward to *all* of the answers.
<<Nice network you ladies have.>>
I'm not sure what is meant by network. Is Mr. Ezzo speaking in computerese? Does he mean AOL? Hhhhhmmmm...there are plenty of men, perhaps more men, who are online too. This folder? I'm not sure I would call it a "network". <g> Oh, I see:
<<After all, I'm sure other personalities in this section would not appreciate having the original intent of their folders violated by a network of disgruntled people, who fly their sorties in protest of what those other personalities believe, stand for and teach.>>
Well, I can report quite cheerfully that I am not disgruntled, nor am I flying any sorties, whatever that means. And, since leaving the business world, I'm not really into "networking"...unless the networks are of the cyberspace kind and I'm trying to get my other Internet connection to work dependably. <g> If there is some sort of network going on here, this is the first I've heard of it! (All right, ladies...confess! What sort of network is this?! Identify yourselves! <g> )
Subj: Questions for Mr. Ezzo
95-07-10 12:49:07 EDT
Based on my study of God's Word, I believe that the teaching in Prep for Parenting is unbiblical. I have added to this folder, not to argue, but to warn and encourage parents to search the Scriptures and see if "these things" are true (Acts 17:11).
"Beware lest anyone cheat (plunder, take captive) you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:8-10)
I recognize that there are two possibilities that I have not accepted. First, it may be that I have misunderstood what you have been teaching in Prep for Parenting. Second, it may be that I have understood you perfectly, but have misinterpreted what God's Word teaches regarding these matters. In a spirit of true Christian love and out of a desire to see the Truth of Scripture understood and applied, both in my home and in the homes of those who have had contact with your ministry, would you be willing to answer the following questions?
Do you believe and do you teach that in order to experience success in parenting an infant, one must follow your program of scheduled feeding? On what Scriptures do you base your program?
Is there any proof or any scientific support for your statements regarding the metabolic chaos of a newborn being brought to order by your program?
Do you believe and teach that a mother should respond rationally and not emotionally to her baby?
Do you believe that the breast is for nutrition only and not for comfort?
Do you believe and do you teach that, while breastfeeding is nutritionally better, there is no spiritual difference between a choice to breastfeed and a choice to bottlefeed?
Do you believe that the program (schedule versus comfort feeding) is more important than the method (breast versus bottle).
Do you believe and do you teach that a mother who uses a baby carrier is unwise and/or not pleasing God? If the latter, please give Scripture references which support this view
Do you believe that parents who bring their baby into their bed for all of or part of the night are unwise and or not pleasing to God? If the latter, please give Scripture references which support this view.
Subj: To GnAM
95-07-11 17:08:03 EDT
>>If you would like to continue a reasonable dialogue, lets take one issue at a time, agree to drop the demagoguery and proceed with some type of organizational sanity. If your not interested in that, may I suggest you go back to your other folders and play there. << --GnAM
>>And one more thing. Would you join me in not saying, "You believe that. . . .," (or similar statements), or imposing your interpretation on someone else's beliefs. Lets stick with what you as an individual believe rather than taking a chance on reinterpreting and misinterpreting what other believe. That includes not taking thoughts and statements out of context.<< --GnAM
I am disappointed that you did not recognize an excellent confrontation of your violation of the latter statement. Rumpelst posted a summary of attachment parenting that was taken *from* the source, a written source. Kathy Thile then posted quotes from an article that you wrote for your newsletter, a *public* newsletter, that summarized attachment parenting as a "happiness doctrine" that tells parents to "exalt the child to the center of the universe". No citations, no references. Why? Because there aren't any to support this.
I understand your desire not to have someone misrepresent you. I have seen sincere questions posted asking for clarification, but when the water got hot, you jumped out. They were fair questions, fair posts, and I think that everyone would like to know where you really stand. How, then, can you bypass this seeming transgression without explanation or apology, and expect everyone to turn a blind eye?
It would appear that your summary of "La Leche League/Dr. Sear's Attachment parenting" is based on your beliefs of what it is, rather than fact. My basis for that statement is the fact that you often allege that a questioner practices attachment parenting when they did not state this nor necessarily make any remarks to that effect. Rather, it seems your conclusion is based merely on the fact that they do not embrace your beliefs.
>>I do have other more important activities to fill up my day, than the go nowhere debates with emotionally charged demand feeding mothers talking about demand feeding practices.<<
When I read this, I said to myself, "he's ducking the issues because some valid points were made." Do you operate on the premise that the best defense is an aggressive offense? I don't see the other participants doing this; they have tried to be authentic and humble, and haven't been dodging *sincerely* asked questions.
>>If you want to disagree and take up the time of other people who are not
interested in your positions, we can set up a La Leche League/ Attachment
Parenting/GFI/Demand Feeding/ Schedule Feeding bashing folder. That way
everyone can give their opinion while respecting the original intent and purpose
of other folders.<<
No one has bashed your curriculum, and in fact some nice things have been said about it and you. I am not going to try to "spiritualize" my post by digging up scriptures to throw, but I am going to appeal to you to understand that questions are posed in *this* folder because some of the teachings appear questionable, and possibly harmful. It would be perfectly useless to start a folder for "recreational bashing"; no one wants that. If GFI is based in Truth, then truth should be able to defend itself in place. And if it isn't based in truth, shouldn't those who use the curriculum be forewarned?
Guess I'll succumb to one scripture after all: "You shall know the Truth, and the truth shall set you free". I do believe that Truth shall be evident to all, and that none should fear it.
Subj: Open letter of concern
95-07-11 15:58:16 EDT
We are not part of any network, except for the Body of Christ and, on the local level, our local church and our homeschooling support group. We don't really know most of these lovely ladies online except for their posts.
We take very seriously the Bible when it says that man and wife are one flesh.
You have offended both of us with your remarks. Sorry, Mrs. Rumpelst, but we weren't laughing and we weren't sure that Mr. Ezzo was joking. And if he was, we have a saying we got from another homeschooler that we use with our children, "If it's not funny to Alice, then it's not funny." Maybe Mrs. Rumpelst thought the description of the women in this folder was funny. Maybe you did. But several of the women have let all of us know in their posts that they did not think it was funny. When our children do or say something, even if it was not on purpose, and it was disrespectful or it hurts someone, we make sure they owe everyone an apology or they deal with us.
Mr. Ezzo, if our adult sons would ever talk to a woman the way you did in this folder, we would consider ourselves failures as parents.
Luke 6:40 teaches us that students, when fully taught, will be like their teachers. That's why our family homeschools and why we take our own walk and talk so seriously. Because of that verse and what we have read from you in this folder and other places, we have forbidden anyone under our authority to sit under your teaching. We would never want them to write the sort of things you have written.
You accused the ladies of demagoguery. According to our Webster, a demagogue attempts to lead the people, to influence them to adhere to him; he is a factious man who has great influence with a group of people. You, sir, are the demagogue, not these ladies.
Mr. and Mrs. "MiniPeople"
Shortly after this, the folder sort of died away. Gary Ezzo never did post any sort of apology-- or any other post, for that matter.