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Growing Kids God’s Way – Not Ezzo’s

Here is a re-run of something I wrote four years ago. I still hold to my main concerns. One of the problems with Ezzo-ism is that it is abusive to the parents! Abused people often become abusively hyper-judgmental of other people, particularly parents who don’t apply the same measures of discipline to their children that they believe is right. They need healing.

This poor mother needed healing. Such is the nature of Ezzo’s abusive system that crushes parents under unrealistic expectations. It is abusive to make a mother feel guilty for her motherly instinct.

There is a lot of thoughtful criticism out there for the Ezzo method, but I will simply enumerate a few more things with little to no explanation:

1. It is shortsighted. It turns every skirmish of the will into Armegeddon. We are seeking to make disciples who are pursuing the will of God; not robots crafted to perform our will. A long view is better than fomenting a tempest in a teacup for the sake of winning the battle of the wills.

2. It is traumatizing to both child and parent, psychologically abusive to parents.

3. It incites parents to pursue dangerous ambitions in every discipline scenario (i.e. ‘breaking the child’s will’), a tactic that even God, the All-knowing Father, does not pursue with His own children.

4. It results in children being shaped into — and pressured to become — trophies of their parents’ control skills.

5. It masks the reality of human nature and the Doctrine of Total Inability.

6. It breaks the spirit of children, turning them into pleasers who are rewarded for conformity while denying them the richness of authenticity and the reality of Divine power to do what is right. (This applies to older children, of course.)

7. It damages both parents and children by encouraging them to believe that leadership is control and promotes in them a mind that instinctively think of a God that will bring down the hammer of His discipline on the slightest infraction. It capitalizes on the the feeling of guilt.

8. I personally think Babywise in its effort to avoid the evils of child-centeredness (and is child-centeredness always evil?) gives suggestions that ultimately promote selfish parent-centeredness. Get your lazy butt out of the bed and feed the child when its little body says it needs it.

In short, I think parents who start looking for short cuts in the hard work of making disciples are beginning a dangerous journey that will prove to be longer, more painful, and ultimately disastrous.

9 Responses

  1. Bob, I think this critique might be a little onesided and unfair. This coming from one who has read and adapted the techniques in the Ezzo books but understands it’s limits and needed context of grace and flexibility. I think your are being a little too black and white with the Ezzo approach.
    “Masks the reality of human nature…,” denying them “the richness of authenticity…,” seriously? These are not issues isolated to the Ezzo approach but to any application that fails to understand that “the grace of God teaches us to live godly….”
    I don’t remember seeing them write that this is a special formula for success. Maybe the caution should be to not seek a formula for success and provide an alternative. What better avenue to teach the gospel then through a structure of discipline and responsibilty. It seems to be the point in the wisdom of Proverbs. It seems to be the point of being condemned by the law, but freed and enabled by grace. Maybe a critique should be posting out of a posture of adaptation instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Maybe there needs to be an emerging middle on the issue. 🙂 Thanks for the sharpening though.

  2. “Get your lazy butt out of the bed and feed the child when its little body says it needs it.”

    As a mother of three young children, I’ve found getting out of my warm bed in the dark of night for the benefit of another human being is one of the best spiritual disciplines God ever gave. And somehow so very Philippians 2.

  3. I posted this on the “old” post and meant to post it here:

    I have learned through my parenting over the course of the last 8 years that just because someone has parenting advice, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. And just because that advice “appears” to work, at the moment, doesn’t mean it works either. I’m not impressed any more when people walk in with what seemingly appears to be “perfect children”. I don’t want perfect children because none of us are perfect. And, I don’t care, personally, any more what others think of my children or my parenting – and it has taken me a long time to get there.

    What I DO care about is my relationship with my children and their relationship with Christ as their saviour. There is no book that can teach me “how” to raise them “God’s Way”. For truly, God’s way is on our knees and through Christ – not by following a parenting book. And yes – I have read and taken the courses – and have come in contact with the Ezzo’s through my church – Seacoast.

    But, in my own opinion, what has been the most telling FOR ME has been learning about the relationship that the Ezzo’s do NOT have with their children as adults. They have come to adopt some of the families in their GFI “ministry” as their own but have chosen to move far away from their children (who reside in California) and have moved to Charleston, South Carolina. My own parents in their retirement have moved as close to all of their children and grandchildren as they possibly could.

    There are too many books and too many “experts” any more and they are all trying to make money (yes – even the Ezzo’s) by selling their prescription for perfect children.

  4. […] Growing Kids God’s Way – Not Ezzo’s « Pensees Posted on July 17, 2010 by Jamie Bickel Growing Kids God’s Way – Not Ezzo’s « Pensees. […]

  5. “1. It is shortsighted. It turns every skirmish of the will into Armegeddon. We are seeking to make disciples who are pursuing the will of God; not robots crafted to perform our will. A long view is better than fomenting a tempest in a teacup for the sake of winning the battle of the wills.”

    I so agree with this! You can win a battle but lose the war. I’ve seen the results of that WAY too often.

  6. […] Pastor Bob Bixby shares ongoing concerns he’s had with the Ezzo parenting materials, especially the impact GKGW has on parents. While a lot of the Ezzo discussions revolve around Babywise, I have very strong concerns about the materials for toddlers and older children. Pastor Bixby highlights some of those as well as some key concerns related to parents. […]

  7. I agree with Jamie on this one. I think the critique here is pretty unfair and reveals a very wooden interpretation a lot of what is written. I don’t agree with everything they write either. But that is the great part of asking for wisdom when you lack it. Is one more spiritual or more disciplined and somehow more Christlike is they bend to every narssasistic whim of the toddler. Child-centeredness is always wrong because we never parent for the child, we parent for Christ and His glory. Telling parents they are bad parents if they let there babies cry is also psychologicaly abusive. Grace and flexibility has to be given because every child is unique and so not parenting technique will work universally. Only Psalm 78 and Deut. 6 are time tested and at best only obedience is required because even that doesn’t promise the desired result.
    Thanks for your thoughts though

  8. @ Tim: “Child-centeredness is always wrong…” Really, Tim? Please understand, I am not referring to teaching children to be narcisistic, but to meeting their needs. It is possible to love your child in a 1 Cor. 13 way, and to serve your child in a Phil 2 way, and thus center your day or your parenting around meeting the needs of the child…for the glory of Christ!

    I parented my first child according to Babywise. She slept through the night by 7 weeks. I think Ezzo would have view my infant/toddler as a successful “Babywise” baby. But by the time she was 2, I realized what I was calling manipulation was simply her needs. I realized what I called wanting to teach her independence was simply my own selfishness.

    And I think its high time others start realizing this, too. The Bible speaks a lot about loving and nurturing our children, and it’s not just “tough love” that it is referring to.

    A relative spanked a 7-month old child because he wasn’t sleeping well…while on an out of town trip. He wasn’t hungry, so he had to be manipulating they said. They also severely spanked their 4-year old because she was whiny after having diarrhea and wasn’t feeling well to pick up toys. All done in the name of teaching the children not to be child-centered. These parents truly believe they are doing this motivated out of love. Unfortunately, those parents were doing nothing short of abusing their child. And as #1 said, EVERY infraction is a major battle against the parents.

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