Monday, May 18, 2015

If Parents Use Common Sense....

Fans of Babywise don't like it when opponents say that Ezzo's "Infant Management System" is BAD for babies. Proponents claim that if you use common sense, everything will be fine.

The problem is that the book is usually recommended to, and read by, new parents. First-time parents are usually unsure of themselves and seek wisdom from those with more experience and common sense in parenting.

On Becoming Babywise promises them that if they follow the recommendations in  the book, they will be more confident, in their parenting, assured they are raising, a happier, healthiersmarter baby who SLEEPS! All night! It assures you that you will have such well-adjusted, secure, delightful children that people will notice and comment on on it!

But it doesn't promise, or even recommend common sense.
Because common sense would tell most people, parents or not, that a little baby left to cry for ALMOST FIVE HOURS is PROBABLY NOT GOOD!!

Not so, for the Babywiser. The Babywising parent is told that this is perfectly normal and to be expected.
They're told that responding to a crying baby is bad parenting! 
The word "dangerous" is even used to ensure parents continue to ignore the crying baby!

What does Babywise advise for parents like the mom above?
Read the following experpt from Babywise '98 version, Chapter 12 "Principles for Starting Late," page 210
Review chapter 8, "When Your Baby Cries," and be prepared for some crying. You are moving from a high-comfort style of sleep manipulation to basic training in sleep skills. Initially your baby will not like this change, but it is necessary. In moments of parental stress, be comforted in knowing your baby won't feel abandoned because you have decided that the best thing for him is learning how to fall asleep on his own." 

Don't feel the necessity to check on your baby every five minutes while he or she is crying. If you go into your baby's room, try to do so without being seen. If necessary, move the crib so you can see the baby but the baby can't see you. If you feel you must soothe the child, go in briefly and pat him or her on the back. With a soft voice, say, "It's all right," then quietly leave. As a result, your baby will do one of two things; be comforted and fall asleep or roar even louder.
If your baby chooses the latter, don't be discouraged! The crying only means he or she has not developed the ability to settle himself or herself. That goal is precisely what you are working toward.

Be patient and consistent. For some parents, success comes after one night; for others, it comes after two weeks. The norm, however, is three to five days. [Emphasis added]

So here we see a situation that would normally be extremely upsetting for those with common sense, but Mr. Ezzo frames it as a good thing. Notice his careful choice of words used to twist reality:

  • Helping your baby fall asleep is labelled "sleep manipulation"
  • Baby's distress is portrayed as a positive thing: "Crying proves that his ability to settle himself is developing!" 
  • He claims that your baby won't feel abandoned. This is a ridiculous statement. How could a baby NOT feel abandoned when he cries and nobody comes? He tells you - twice -to make sure the baby can't even see you. But what is even more bizarre is the reason he claims your baby won't feel abandoned: "because you have decided that the best thing for him is learning how to fall asleep." How does the parent's decision nullify the baby's feelings?
  • The only comfort offered is to the distressed parent: "If you feel you must soothe the child..." but the "soothing" is only a brief pat on the back and quick exit... not something most of us would find particularly soothing if we've been abandoned during a stressful time, crying for hours.

The book infers that the goal you are trying to achieve is working! Three to five days of this persistent crying and you have attained the goal! And if it takes over two weeks of sleepless nights while you try to NOT hear the crying,why that's perfectly normal too, in Ezzo's view.

He then praises the parents who ignore their crying babies - those who "work at helping their child gain this fundamental skill":(1)
Parents who love their babies give them what they need; young children need a good night's sleep. (2)
Moms who have made the transition from sleepless nights to peaceful sleep report that their children not only gain the advantage of continuous nighttime sleep, but their daytime disposition also changes. They appear happier, more content, and definitely more manageable.
(1) Sleeping is not a "fundamental skill" to be taught. All mammals will sleep when they are tired; they don't need to be trained to do so. Ezzo's training will teach them not to cry, because they soon learn crying is ineffective. Sleep will come, of course, but not because the child has learned a "skill," but because the baby is resigned to sleep from exhaustion, boredom or despair.

(2) Parents with common sense who love their babies give them what they need. Young children need  the security they get from having parents with the compassion, empathy, and patience it takes to care for them, day AND NIGHT, in those early years to establish life-long relationships.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Friends or authority figures? Parents' dilemma

Can't we just be friends?  

On budding friendships, buddy status, and bosom buddies

Recently I was at a Christian Women's Study Group discussing the book of Titus, where Paul discusses different roles of those within the church. Our group was considering our roles as wives and mothers, based upon these verses:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is goodThen they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:3-5)

Verse 4 tells the older women (that's me) to teach the younger to love their husbands and children.  
I wondered what was actually to be taught about "loving" their husbands. Having been associated with a "Christian" cult group in the past, I have learned to be very careful about what the Bible actually says, versus what someone says that it says. Was the Greek word agape, the self-sacrificing love that expects nothing in return as is used throughout the "Love Chapter" of 1 Corinthians 13? Or was it in this case perhaps the word eros, which refers to sexual love? 

I was wrong on both counts. The word for love in this verse is philia, which means "affectionate regard, friendship," usually "between equals." 

There are several online tools that you can use to gain a truer meaning of  Hebrew or Greek words than what we can understand in English. My favorite site for this is

The last two words in this verse - translated as "to love their husbands" and  "to love their children," - are philandros and philoteknos. 
These two words do not appear anywhere else in the bible. They are made from two words,
 "philio - aner" and "philio - teknos." 

Hovering the cursor over the word highlights it in red and gives the English meaning:

The two words mean "friend of man," and "friend of children."

So, let's get back the Christian women's group. We talked about loving our husbands with the kind of  love we have for our dearest friends. The importance of preserving friendship with our husbands can so easily be overlooked during our busy lives with small children.We each shared things we enjoy doing with our husbands to uphold that friendly atmosphere between mom and dad. 

I then asked about enjoying friendship with our children, which can also be difficult to maintain when we're so focused on trying to teach them how to behave.

"I would never try to be friends with my children," said one mom, "I have friends already." Another mom agreed. 

I was not surprised by their comments, considering what Gary Ezzo and other Christian authors say, but I was troubled. Why would you not consider a friendship with your own children? Wouldn't you want to be friends with people you will be living with for twenty years?  

I have been friends with my children since they were nursing babies! I used to call them my "bosom buddy" or my "breast friend!"And why not? We loved each other and we enjoyed being together every single day. 

Does this mean I had no authority over my children. Of course not! Every mother is in authority! Can a hungry infant make himself a sandwich? Can he keep himself clean and warm? Ultimately my child relies totally on whatever I will - or will not - do for him / her. I am in supreme control. 

But in dealing with my children I also follow Jesus' rule:

"So in everything, [including parenting!] do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." 
How I speak to my children, how I teach them and how I correct them - and in fact how I treat  anyone - should reflect the way I would like to be treated.  

When your children have a friendly and affectionate relationship with you, discipline is easier and more effective. Why? Imagine you have a demanding, critical boss. How do you feel if he's angry?  What about a boss who you really like, and actually enjoy working for? You'd hate to upset the nice boss but you probably wouldn't care if the critical boss got upset. In fact you might even feel satisfaction in seeing him/her upset. Serves him right, the big jerk.

Like many Christian authors, Gary Ezzo strongly advises parents to maintain authority over their children. He warns against being "buddies" with your child: 

The idea is especially appealing to a generation that has pondered the considerable lack of friendship with their own parents. However, reducing the parental role to the child's level or raising the child to the status of peer will not, in the end, produce friendship. True friendship cannot be forced before its time.

Ezzo warns that friendship  "reduc(es) the parental role to the child's level or rais(es) the child to the status of peer.   His mistake is in confusing a friend with a peer; they are not the same thing. Peers are persons of equal standing socially or financially - not necessarily your friends. A friend is someone with whom you have a bond of affection, and not necessarily a peer. My peers might be those with whom I attend school or work. I will be acquainted with them, but might not be friends. My friends are the people I love to spend time with whether they are 20 years older than me or 20 years younger me. My friends don't necessarily have the same career choice or hobbies, financial status or education as me. Even a dog can be "Man's best friend" because of their love for each other, though clearly one is in authority over his friend.

 And of course the best example is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate authority, and yet calls Himself our friend. 

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends ~John 15:13-15 KJV

A Life-Long Friendship

 In his book On Becoming Babywise, Gary Ezzo uses fictional characters to demonstrate what he sees as the problem with befriending your children: 
Chelsea's parents understand that virtues must be nurtured into her tiny heart. These virtues are not inherent in her life or any new life. Parents must train these attributes into the heart of their child. Therefore, they must govern and monitor her until they are assured she bears the self-control and moral awareness needed to govern herself....
Back at Marisa's home, her [Attachment Parenting] mom and dad continue to strive for buddy status. They yearn for friendship, elevating Marisa to the level of peer. And  what could be more noble than a family made up of friends? The idea is especially appealing to a generation that has pondered the considerable lack of friendship with their own parents. However, reducing the parental role to the child's level or raising the child to the status of peer will not, in the end, produce friendship. True friendship cannot be forced before its time.
Time and experience are prerequisites for building any friendship. Children enter this world with neither. Wisdom, self-control, and the experiences earned over time must be trained into a child by those granted this unique privilege--the parents... 
Chelsea's [Babywise-following] parents understand this, knowing that friendship with their daughter is a gift that only time can give. In the meantime, they must represent her best interests. They set the pace in chelsea's life and insist upon compliance..... 
By the end of Chelsea's teen years, a beautiful friendship with her parents will begin to blossom. Indeed, this should be every parent's goal. [BW '98, p.25]
By the end of the teen years? 
Time and experience may be prerequisites for friendship, but TWENTY YEARS?
If I had to wait 20 years before I would deem someone worthy of a friendship with me beginning to blossom, I'd have no friends at all!  How hard it must be to live with someone for all those years and not enjoy a friendship with them - until it's time for them to leave.

Unfortunately, Ezzo followed his own advice waiting for that "beautiful friendship to begin to blossom." Now that his daughters are adults, they no longer have any relationship with their parents at all.* He is reaping exactly what he has sown: another generation ... has pondered the considerable lack of friendship with their own parents. And it's very, very sad.

 *see for details of their estrangement

(1) from the Preface

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

To Train Up A Child

The book  called "To Train Up a Child" by Mike and Debi Pearl is very popular among Christians. I mention it here because many who use the Ezzo's  programs also follow the Pearl's philosophy of parenting.

The Pearls' idea of child training involves pro-actively teaching the child immediate unquestioning obedience through early training sessions.

 The introduction of the book says,
"The emphasis is on the training of a child before the need to discipline arises. It is apparent that, though they expect obedience, most parents never attempt to train their child to obey. They wait until his behavior becomes unbearable and then explode. With proper training, discipline can be reduced to 5% of what many now practice."
An example of obedience training would be to place your baby on your lap and tell him to sit still. If he attempts to move, you strike him. Every time he tries to move or he protests, you repeat the spanking/switching/swatting/licking or whatever they call it until the child is broken and defeated. Mission accomplished; the child will now obey the order.

You can find an excellent summary of quotes from the Pearl's book HERE.

The Pearls insist that they are NOT "punishing" but simply "training the child to obey."

Yikes. There are a lot of problems with this mentality. Where to begin?

Let's begin with the title of the book, To Train Up A Child, since the Pearl's entire book is based on part of this one verse.

This comes from a verse in the Old Testament of the Bible, in Proverbs 22:6. It consists of 6 Hebrew words which the King James version uses 21 English words to translate as follows:

Train up a child in the way he should go,  

and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Hebrew is a pictorial language, so lets look at each of these word-pictures to find out what these words tell us,

חָנַךְ  chanak  - This word is used 5 times in the bible. Four times it is translated as "dedicate" and refers to dedicating a house to the Lord.  The word is a verb derived from the word for the jaw or palate, meaning to make narrow, or to put something in the mouth to be tasted - metaphorically used to "taste and understand" something: to initiate or commence to use, to instruct or train. This is the only place where it is translated as "train up."

נַעַר  na`ar  - a boy, lad, servant, youth, retainer.  This word is generally used for a boy who is independent of his mother.  The word is translated only once as "babe," in Exodus 2:6, referring to Moses when he was found floating in a basket in the river - away from his mother.

דֶּרֶךְ  derek  - way, road,  journey, manner, distance. This word is usually translated as "way" (590 times) and another 60 or so times as "toward," "journey," or "manner."

פֶּה  peh  - mouth. Yes, that's right, MOUTH. It carries a sense of blowing or breathing; speech; an orator or spokesman. It can mean the opening of a bag, an edge (like the teeth) or a border (like the lips).  It usually means simply "mouth" (390 times of the 498 times it appears in the bible) but is also translated  as "commandment,"  (37x), edge (35x), according (22x), word (15x), hole (6x), and other miscellaneous uses.
It seems very odd that in this one verse it is translated as "he should go." There must be another meaning.

זָקֵן  zaqen - to be old or become old. The word pictures an old man with his chin hanging down, decrepid. It is used 26 times in the bible as "old" and once as "aged."

סוּר  cuwr  - to turn aside, to depart, to be removed or taken away, to come to an end.

A few things to note about what these 6 words tell us:

1. The first word portrays a narrowing, a dedication, tasting, and instruction. Focused attention perhaps?
2. The second word means a boy. Not a baby. Young man or teenager perhaps, but certainly one old enough to be independent of his mother
3. The third word is usually translated "way."  Narrow / dedicate  a lad's way/journey...
4. MOUTH.  What does 'mouth'  mean in this verse?
- dedicate the lad's journey from his very first BREATH?
- narrow the boy's journey with verbal instruction?
Perhaps it relates to 'feeding' on the Word of God as in Psalm 34:8: "Taste and see that the Lord is Good..."
What this verse does NOT suggest is "training up" through punishment! Nor does it talk about babies. Even if it did mention punishment, we would have to conclude it has something to do with the mouth -commanding? scolding?  biting the child to teach him a lesson?!

To summarize the word pictures:  Dedicate/make narrow -- boy/lad -- way/journey --  mouth/breath/commandment/according to -- old/aged -- turn aside/depart

What to YOU think this proverb is teaching you?

 Despite the use of this verse as their book's title, there is no mention of the punitive tactics the Pearls promote as the proper way to "train up" children.

And furthermore...

Why take a few scriptures from the Old Testament to justify spankings while ignoring the rest of the Bible's message about love, forgiveness, redemption, and grace?

We don't hold fast to the Old Testament rule about stoning disobedient ones, why hold fast to the few OT proverbs to justify spanking small children?

God is patient with us and doesn't immediately strike us every time we disobey. He allows us to learn from the natural consequences of our disobedience. He sent Jesus to take punishment FOR us. He forgives us and teaches us a little at a time, to grow to become more like Him.

Also note that this verse does not appear in the Septuagint. Perhaps its not all that important.

There are many excellent Christian books on discipline that avoid using corporal punishment. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How I became obsessed about Babywise.

 I had been a La Leche League Leader for many years and was looking into becoming a Certified Lactation Consultant when I came across a website where Lactation Counselors share professional information and experience.  One of the LC's had shared her exasperation in working with a new mom whose baby was not gaining sufficient weight. The LC had recommended the mom feed the baby more frequently.

The mother refused. She would agree to any herbal remedies,  prescription medicine, or special techniques, but breastfeeding on demand was out of the question. She was a Christian, she explained, and would not feed on demand, because demand feeding was not "Godly parenting."

There's a Godly - and ungodly - way to nurse your baby? 

At the time I came across this post, I had been a bible-believing Christian for ten years, and a La Leche League Leader for almost twenty years. The LLL Leader who had mentored me through breastfeeding and mothering was also the one who led me to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Prior to that, I had become involved in one of the offshoots of Christianity - one of the popular cults - which had taken me under their wings and guided me into some erroneous doctrine.

What kind of a crazy mind-control cult could convince parents that feeding their baby on demand was anti-Christian?

 With a background in cults and La Leche League and several years of breastfeeding knowledge and experience, I needed to know more about this!  I immediately began to search and soon found chat-rooms discussing this book called Babywise, and its author who seemed to have a cult-like following of committed believers quoting "For our God is not a god of disorder..." as a good reason to put a baby on a strict feeding schedule.

What the heck? That couldn't be right. I had to find out more. I went to the bookstore to look through the book. It was the '95 version. It said nursing "less than a two-and-a-half-hour interval can wear mom down, often causing a decrease in milk production."  That is completely false information. It said sleeping with your baby is "passively abusive" and would leave children in "a state of abnormal dependency." As a La Leche League Leader for almost 20 years, I'd known literally hundreds of moms whose babies slept with them, and never, ever heard of such problems in any La Leche League families.

The book said if a two-week-old baby falls asleep while nursing and then wakes up hungry, you must make her wait until the next scheduled feeding. That's just cruel! How could anyone be so heartless as to refuse to feed a newborn baby until a clock says so? I decided not to purchase the book because I couldn't bear the idea of lining that author's pocket with my money!

I needed to know how people actually do this, so I joined an online mothers group for moms who use Babywise parenting. I wasn't the only one questioning - and arguing against - their philosophy. Again and again they would tell the nay-sayers "You cannot criticize it if you haven't even read the book!" So, reluctantly, I bought the book. The newest '98 version.

As I began to read the book I decided to be very open-minded, and imagined that I was not a mom of six, but a new mom. As a La Leche League Leader it was difficult to read through all the breastfeeding misinformation and downright lies. Ezzo, who has ZERO training in lactation, criticizes the Board Certified Lactation Counselors as being "heavily biased in favor of the attachment parenting theories" He calls the IBCLC's, "the lactation industry," and claims THEY are lacking "a working understanding of routine breast-feeding dynamics."

But, as I continued to read I actually thought the book made a lot of sense. Perhaps Ezzo was right. Maybe if I had simply been more proactive in aiming for consistent feeding intervals with my babies, it would have smoothed out their inborn "metabolic chaos" and my kids might have begun to sleep through the night earlier "the natural way."  I was intrigued by the promises of children who he claimed were more content, easier to manage,  a joy to behold, and so on.

Then I got to Chapter 8: "When Your Baby Cries."

To summarize Chapter Eight:
When your baby cries, ignore it. 
If baby cries when you lay him down for a nap, it's normal, because he's "learning a new skill."
If baby cries in the middle of a nap, that's normal, because he's just coming out of a sleep cycle.
If baby cries at the end of a nap, that's normal, because it's feeding time and he's hungry.
If baby cries after feeding, it's because he didn't finish eating his meal properly. Since you cannot allow him to snack, you must let him cry to teach him a lesson about finishing his meal properly.
If baby cries during the night and he's reached 8 weeks of age, you must stop responding to nighttime cries. It's simply become a habit. It usually takes 3 nights of crying himself to sleep before he stops this bad habit. (Ezzo calls this "guidance" and "teaching the baby the skill" of sleep.)
If baby cries for no reason, well, that's just what babies do.

Besides, your job is to just listen to the cry so you will get accustomed to it, and know what's normal for your child.

He then describes several examples of what he sees as "normal" crying. Interestingly, though he claims three nights of crying it out usually ends nighttime parenting, he admits that after three months of "training" all of his grandbabies were still crying occasionally at naptimes. (page 147)

Of course, all this crying will naturally upset mothers! So, in this chapter we are told that motherly instincts are detrimental to their babies! She should never allow her emotions to lead the way.
 He writes, "Mother's decisions without assessment can be dangerous."
 and  "Emotional mothering can set the stage for child abuse."(page 150)

Attempts to soothe a crying baby are re-framed as "blocking the baby's cry" - as if by soothing her baby she's somehow obstructing baby's development!

 By blocking the cry, mother loses confidence in her own decision making.
She also misses out on assessing the child's real needs.... she probably is missing her baby's primary cues.

He admits that babies who are carried, nursed on demand and sleeping with their moms cry very little but claims this is not good(!), because "this parenting philosophy calls for the suppression of all crying" which is not nearly as important as "teaching good sleep habits."

So Chapter 8 actually got to the truth of the matter: it isn't being fed routinely that trains babies into sleeping, it's being left to cry alone that leads to quiet nights.

I  spent countless hours online reading Ezzo debates, Ezzo support groups, testimonies, and watching some youtube vlogs. The best resource for all things Ezzo is

Back at the online Babwisers support group, someone said, "The Babywise book is really good and helpful as a guide. The problem with the critics is that they don't realize the biblical viewpoint behind the guidelines. If they knew the scriptural reasoning behind the book's recommendations, they'd understand why we faithfully follow the program."

So I got on eBay, and purchased a copy of  Preparation for Parenthood, complete with eight weeks of audio tapes for teaching classes and a study guide.
I listened to the tapes, read the workbook, and studied the scriptures he mentions. I found it all extremely manipulative and disturbing.

I then purchased:
  •  Babywise II: Parenting your pre-toddler 5-18 months,
  •  Preparation for the Toddler years book & tape series,
  •  Childwise, 
  • "Birth By Design"  by Anne Marie Ezzo (All were purchased used, to avoid putting another dollar in that man's pocket.)
One thing I do not have is personal experience with Ezzo families. It is not promoted in my church. I personally know of only a couple of families who used the program, not enough make any conclusions about the effects of its use.

 So what has caused my crazy obsession with all things Ezzo?

1. As a La Leche League Leader, I know Ezzo's breastfeeding information is terrible. Ezzo has no background in infant feeding, and no business writing a book about a feeding program.

2. As a Christian, I’m concerned that Ezzo uses scripture out of context to make a point. {So I do the same thing in this very blog!} Also, scripture tells women to learn about caring for our children from other women, not men (Titus 2:3-5).

3. As an attachment-style parent, I know Ezzo is either very misinformed about what AP entails, or else is lying in order to mislead parents. If he’s lying, we can’t trust anything he says. If he’s misinformed, he has no right to author a book criticizing a parenting philosophy about which he knows so little.

4. As a mother of six, I know his one-size-fits-all approach to parenting is unrealistic and rigid. Every baby is different, and every family is different. And my mother's heart breaks for every little baby crying for his mommy and being ignored.

5. As a former cult member, I see very cult-like attitudes among the followers of this program, especially the Prep for Parenthood because a) its taught in churches as TRUTH and b) the attendees continue to support each other in following the methods, compared to one reading the book and simply tossing it if dissatisfied.

6. As a trained Psychiatric Nurse, I can accept his program does indeed "work" but only because excessive sleep is a defense mechanism for feelings of hopelessness. What could be more hopeless than to be a helpless newborn and discover that nobody comes when you call?

Finally, I want to point out that sometimes, the baby is NOT actually sleeping through the night when the parent claims they are. Sometimes the parents lie, because Ezzo  and his followers consider it bad parenting if your child isn't sleeping through. Sadly it is also sometimes because the parents have trained their ears not to hear ... the same way you stop hearing noisy traffic or a chiming clock when you become accustomed to the sounds you have deemed irrelevant to your sleep. I have spent the night at someone's home and witnessed this myself, waking up to a crying baby twice during the night while the parents didn't hear a thing.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Good News!

Brand new copies of Babywise were offered for fifty cents at Chapters.
I guess nobody wants the nasty book any more!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

10 Lies About Attachment Parenting

Gary Ezzo does not agree with Attachment-style parenting.

In his church-based Parenting Program called "Preparation for Parenthood" as well as his secular book "On Becoming Babywise," Ezzo  portrays the typical "Attachment Parent" as an ill-informed, secular humanist who attempts to be a child's 'buddy' rather than a  decent parent. The child of these Attachment Parents is described as self-centered, chaotic, and ill-prepared for the world as a result of being subjected to his parents' philosophies.

The following list corrects a few of the misconceptions (or lies) that Mr. Ezzo  writes about Attachment Parenting.

Note :
"PFP" = Preparation for Parenting (Ezzo's church-based parenting program)
"BW" = Babywise (Ezzo's secular book based on the church-based program)
"AP" = Attachment Parenting (A style of parenting that focuses on becoming closely tuned to your baby)
"PDF" = Parent Directed Feeding (The feeding schedule described in Babywise)

1. Ezzo claims Attachment Parents follow a “Neoprimitivistic” school of thought  that hopes to “undo birth trauma.” (BW ’98 pg 31-2)

a) Attachment Parenting proponents believe that good communication begins in infancy. Learning how your child communicates helps you understand your child better, leading to closer relationships and ultimately avoiding many negative behaviors and conflicts.

The term “Attachment Parenting” was coined by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician and father of eightDr. Sears wife, Martha, served as a La Leche League Leader. Together they are well-qualified to share information about normal growth and development, breastfeeding, baby care,  and parenting.

In contrast, Gary Ezzo and his wife, Ann Marie, parents of two, have no experience or credentials in lactation or child development.

b)  "Attachment Parents are not attempting to "undo birth trauma."("Does the birthing process really create psychologically fragile children?" ~ BW '98 p.36) The Birth Trauma theory of which Ezzo is skeptical surfaced after birth had indeed become quite traumatic for babies. During the early part of the last century, births were occurring in institutions for the first time in history. In contrast to being born at home surrounded by family and a midwife, the new standard delivery method in American hospitals involved grasping an unborn baby's emerging head with metal forceps and pulling the baby it out of its unconscious mother. Amnesiac drugs given to the mother prior to this procedure negatively affected the babies' normal inclination to begin breathing, therefore babies were immediately held by the heels and slapped to make them breathe. Rather than transitioning from the womb to the world on its mother body as the placenta completed its job, the umbilical cord was immediately clamped and cut so the baby could be taken to a nursery for resuscitation - and for observation, since unconscious mothers cannot care for their own babies.
 I would definitely call this introduction into the world traumatic.

2. Ezzo claims Attachment Parents cannot be Christians. 

He says that Christians who practice attachment parenting “are Christians up to a point… [but  are not subjecting] their personal opinions, reasoning, and emotions to the guidelines of Scripture...” (PFP pg. 21)

a) La Leche League
Far from a group of neo-primitivistic secular humanists, the founding mothers of La Leche League were members of a close-knit church, as part of a community outreach.

The idea for La Leche League was conceived at a church picnic, when the  nursing mothers noticed they had been approached by several others expressing their regret in not being able to breastfeed. The church had recently hosted a series called the Christian Family Movement in which attendees were encouraged to reach out to others in the community. The few nursing mothers thought that perhaps helping other mothers succeed in breastfeeding was a God-given opportunity. They realized that if they helped mothers, they helped entire families, and if they helped families, they were helping the whole community.

Most of the founding moms themselves had not been successful either when trying to breastfeed their first  babies. Each of them had learned  by experience that the secret of success was to watch the baby instead of the clock, selflessly nursing the new baby as often as the baby seemed to need it.
This was a terribly radical idea at the time. Science was the new god. Doctors, rather than mothers, delivered babies. Doctors, rather than mothers, formulated milk for the babies. Doctors, rather than moms and babies, regulated the times babies were to be fed. Formula was new, modern and scientific; breastfeeding was seen as something the lower animals did. Formula was expensive but seen as superior, especially in an era of prosperity. Breastfeeding was for the poor.

The name "La Leche League" was chosen because 'breast' or 'breastfeeding' were words that could not be used in polite company in the 1950's.

b) Dr. William Sears
Dr. Sears is a pediatrician, and author of Christian Parenting. His wife, also Christian, is a nurse and a La Leche League Leader

c) It is extremely arrogant to say anyone not feeding their child on a schedule cannot be Christian.

d) If Ezzo's PDF program were indeed a Godly parenting program, it would be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This schedule could not work in Jesus' time when people did not have timepieces.
It would not work for Christians in less developed nations where fewer people rely on clocks.

e) Ezzo recognizes that mothers in less-developed nations carry their babies attached in wraps or slings "out of convenience" but he claims mothers in North America are only doing so because they are afraid the child is suffering Birth Trauma.

d) In Preparation for Parenting, Ezzo attacks Christians who AP as follows: 
Here are three questions for the Christian community to consider:
(1) Did God make a mistake when creating the birthing process by introducing trauma?
(2) Did Jesus suffer from psychic shock and separation anxiety as a result of His birth?
(3) Was Mary a bad mother because she laid Jesus in a manger (literally a feeding crib) and not a family bed? To all three questions, we answer "no."

I would answer:
(1) God did not make a mistake creating the birthing process, but MAN made the mistake of messing with it, thinking they can improve upon it.
(2) If Jesus had been born in modern times, yes! If born today, He would have been ultrasounded several times in his mother's womb, his birth would be induced by 40 weeks, monitored and assisted by forceps, scissors, scalpel or cesarean section. His cord would be clamped before it finished its function, so He could be taken from his mother, and would likely have a tube put in his nose, mouth, possibly even lungs suction fluids,then medicine would be put in his eyes, and He'd be injected with Vitamin K. He'd be placed on a metal scale, weighed, measured and tagged, then taken to the NICU for observation, due to the  increased risks involved in virgin birth.
 And yes, this would likely cause some psychic shock and separation anxiety.
(3) No, Mary was not a bad mother because she put her baby in a manger. It was probably the only place not covered in animal manure and amniotic fluid.
I also doubt that Mary and Joseph would have toted a feeding crib with them when they fled to Egypt in the middle of the night.

Here are three questions I would ask Mr. Ezzo to consider:
(1) Did Mary have a clock in Jesus' nursery?
(2) Did she have to check the sundial to know when it was time to feed her baby?
(3) Without a clock, how was she able to stretch out his feeding intervals in 15-minute increments as he grew? Or measure the time he spent in his playpen to "develop mental focusing skills, a sustained attention span, creativity, and orderliness"? [BW'98 pp190-191]

 His "infant management program" is obviously not feasible for Christians living in less-developed nations - or else all believers outside of the Western world are "only Christian up to a point."

 3. Ezzo states that for Attachment Parents, the primary signal for food is the baby’s cry. (BW '98 page 33)

This is not correct and it is not descriptive of attachment parenting.
a). Crying is not the primary signal for food; crying is a late signal for hunger.
In other words, after the baby has been hinting - after the baby has been rooting and smacking his lips and getting restless, after the baby has been asking politely for several minutes, then baby becomes increasingly agitated - and the mother continues to ignore these signals, then comes the late signal: he cries. Nobody was paying attention to his distress until he cried.  Attachment mothers notice the early signals, and respond when the baby asks politely. That is why they cry less.

b) Ezzo does not understand that nursing is not just “food” for the baby. Formula may substitute for mother’s milk, but bottles do not substitute for mother’s body, her smell, her voice and her warmth and her taste, which changes from feed to fed unlike formula.
Attachment Parents recognize the baby needs a mother's presence as much he needs her milk. Her breast is a source of comfort and nurture and delight, - and this is biblical: "that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance...Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap. I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child."  ~ Isaiah 66:11-13

 4. Ezzo believes you can hurt a baby by picking him up too much (page141) and disapproves of the use of baby slings, even claiming this hinders the child's development. (page 34)

Attachment parents use a sling for many reasons.
a) It’s convenient, keeping the baby where you can see it, the cat can’t jump on it and the toddler can’t poke it. Mother doesn't need to keep going to check on the baby.
b) It's easier than a stroller in many situations (walking in rough terrain, at the beach, in the woods, etc.)
c) It keeps baby content. They are soothed and calm by mother's movements.
d) It benefits the baby's learning. When baby is at eye level,  he is able to see what his mother does  and how she does it, constantly watching and learning about the world he lives in. (How does this hinder development?)
e)  Lying alone in a crib or playpen hinders development! Carring actually enhances the baby's development in a variety of ways.
f) Moms quickly recognize changes in the baby’s movement that indicate things like hunger, sleepiness, and discomfort, and respond accordingly.
g) They are simply following the wisdom of their ancestors and sisters and around the world.  ( .)

Ezzo mentions the women “in some third-world nations and primitive settings, [carrying] their babies in an infant sling as they move through their day. Their actions are not based on a need to create an attachment with their child nor spurred on by Freud’s writing. For these mothers it is simply a matter of convenience and safety.” (page189)
Attachment parents agree. They do not use a sling to 'create attachment' or because they care about Freud's writing. It's convenient and safer than leaving your baby alone, whether you're in a primitive world or not.

5. Ezzo claims babies raised by Attachment Parents are insecure.

Ezzo says, “A baby’s security is tied to his or her developing relationships with mom and dad, not simply the proximity of mom. The child who is physically attached to mom through baby slings and shared sleep is not necessarily experiencing relational attachment. That statement is easily proven. Just remove the child from mom at any point and observe how secure he or she appears. It’s disheartening for a parent to see and hear her own child in a state of hysteria under the stress of independence.”  (pg 139-140)

a) Why is he using ‘the stress of independence’ to prove ‘relational attachment?’ Doesn't a child's stress upon being removed from mother PROVE his attachment to her? Or does Ezzo think indifference to his mother's absence proves attachment?
b) How does the Babywised child's indifference to his parents' absence show more of a 'developing relationship' than the child who appears distressed? Isn't indifference indicative of a weaker relationship?
c) Is your goal to rear children who are attached to their loved ones or indifferent to them?

d) How you can have a good developing relationship with mom and dad without proximity?

e) Why would he think a small child - who is incapable of getting his own food or keeping himself warm - shouldn't be upset when left alone?

 f) I would remind the reader how disheartening it is for a parent to see and hear her own child in a state of hysteria when he needs to sleep away from home.
 What Ezzo doesn't realize is that having a baby who doesn’t require his own crib, has advantages.
 Ezzo says, “Try placing an “attached” baby in his own crib and in all probability there will be a great deal of crying” (Babywise ’98 pg. 139)
Of course! The baby would cry because he is not accustomed to being left there.
Try taking the PDF child camping and in all probability there will be a great deal of crying because baby isn't in his own bed. Meanwhile, the AP’d baby will fall asleep and stay asleep anywhere. His security is not in his furniture, but in the proximity of those who love and care for him.

 6. Ezzo claims that frequent nursing is so exhausting that many mothers quit prematurely, and that PDF moms are better rested. 

Actually, studies show that nursing mothers get the most sleep.

Frequent nursing assures more than just milk supply; it also increases maternal hormones in the mother - hormones designed to make her feel loving, calm, and motherly, delighting in her baby. These hormones increase every time she breastfeeds. Wouldn't you want a child's mother to feel more loving, more nurturing, more calm? Far from the “mutual discontentment” (pg.44) he predicts when a mother feeds on demand, the mother who nurses more often is happier and more content
The more she nurses, the less she cares how much she nurses!

This is a gift from God, ensuring we find joy and contentment in caring for our babies so we don’t leave them outside for the buzzards!
Ezzo is correct in saying the AP baby will in all likelihood continue to waken at night longer than the PDF child. However, what Ezzo doesn't know is that night waking is not nearly the same problem for Attachment Parents as it is for the PDF mom:

 Since the AP mother believes in sleeping with or near baby, this means
  • She doesn’t have to go to the baby’s room and sit in a chair for those feedings, but can tuck the baby in bed with her, warm and sleeping while baby nurses.
  • Studies have shown that when you sleep close to your baby you share the same sleep cycles. This means:
1) Nursing mothers enter light sleep cycles with their babies, becoming aware of the baby's waking movements. They are not being woken out of a deep sleep by a crying child. Many mothers report that they can sleep through a thunderstorm yet are aware of slight changes in the baby’s breathing.

2). Mother will slip back into that rejuvenating, deep REM sleep as quickly as her baby does.

  • Fathers are rarely aware that the baby even wakes.
  • You can sleep in later when you co-sleep. (My firstborn would happily keep nursing on and off and I could stay in bed till 10.)
On the Preparation for Parenthood tapes the female speaker mentions - with a tone of disgust - that the AP moms joke about still being woken at night with an EIGHT month old. My response: that’s right, they JOKE about it! It’s not a big deal!

7. Ezzo claims the AP mother isn't able to make good decisions about her child's needs.

 “By blocking the cry, mother loses confidence in her own decision-making. She also misses out on assessing the child’s real need. While she may be meeting a secondary cue, she probably is missing her baby’s primary cues.” (Pg 139)
"Blocking" something means to hinder or obstruct it. AP's are not hindering the baby's communication, they are learning baby's language, interpreting it and acting accordingly.
 The AP'd baby doesn't cry much because he doesn't need to. Mother doesn't wait for the distress call, she already knows what baby wants. This is the essence of the “attachment” in attachment parenting. There is a level of communication and understanding such that the baby doesn't have to resort to crying to be "heard."

 8. Ezzo  claims breastfeeding works better on a PDF schedule. 

PDF involves making the baby wait for feedings, using a pacifier if necessary, and include keeping the baby in his own room.  Ezzo discourages the use of a baby monitor (page 187), so the baby's early signals won't be heard, only the distressed baby's cries.
A study on five hospital practices from the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative showed that women who used pacifiers, delayed the first feed, gave formula, did not breastfeed on demand, and did not room in, were eight times less likely to be breastfeeding at two months than women who experienced none of these practices.

 9. Ezzo claims most AP'd babies are fussy.  

"Because of the lack of order associated with the attachment-parenting methodology, the one statement attachment mothers do not hear is: "My, what a good natured baby you have!" PFP page 49

That is simply not true, and the first lie I saw when I looked at a copy of Babywise. As a member of  La Leche League for many years, I often heard moms comment on how frequently they were complimented on our delightful, happy babies. We felt sorry for all the moms who had put their babies on feeding schedules and didn't know how liberating it was to nurse freely on baby's request. At LLL Conferences where there would be hundreds of babies in attendance, only rarely did you hear one crying.

10.  Ezzo claimed babies are born in a state of metabolic chaos.

He says the parent’s job is to stabilize their hunger metabolism the PDF. 
Medically defined as a severe disturbance in amino acid chemistry, a result of chronic illness with multiple causes, metabolic chaos is NOT a normal condition of the newborn.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Male & Female In His Image

Everyone knows that, generally speaking, women are far more nurturing than men when it comes to babies. Moms will run to tend to crying babies, while men are content to leave them alone and let them settle themselves.

Thanks to new fMRI technology [functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging], we are finally able to see  that this is not an "emotional weakness" as Gary Ezzo infers in his book Babywise, but a biological function of the female brain!

We're created that way. Male and female brains are different. Women, even when they are not mothers, cannot simply ignore the cries of a baby the same way a man can.

In Babywise, author Gary Ezzo calls this feminine compulsion to care for infants "unchecked emotionalism" and even claims it is "dangerous."

As a lay pastor, Mr. Ezzo is certainly familiar with Genesis 1:27
"So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
Since God is plural ("Let us make man in our image, after our likeness") so mankind is also plural being made in His likeness; represented in the male kind and female kind, each expressing different qualities of God's image. This is why 'the two shall become one' in marriage, their individual strengths now united to complement each other.

One of God's titles, "El Shaddai" is derived from the word for "breast" which symbolizes the One who nourishes us, satisfies us, comforts and sustains us.[]

Let's look at some female characteristics of El Shaddai, our Many-Breasted One:

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5
"The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you." Deut 33:27
"For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones..." Isaiah 49:13
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15
When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. Exodus 22:7
Many of the verses in the Bible using Shaddai describe the Almighty as the one who blesses (eg.Gen 49:25) and in Whom we delight (eg.  Job 22:26) and in whom we take refuge (Psalm 91:1)

Let's now compare these Godly qualities with the Babywise doctrine:

Babywise tells us to leave our babies during the night. After 8 weeks, forsake their nighttime needs. Far from allowing the quiet refuge of everlasting arms under the child, Ezzo warns against holding the baby "too much" and recommends the use playpens, baby seats, cribs and blanket training to keep them apart.
Mother is to forget the baby at her breast  to go on dates with her husband.
She is to have no compassion when they cry out to her. In fact he discourages parents from using a baby monitor so that you will not hear the baby's crying,

This is what Gary Ezzo calls "parenting from a biblical mindset" in his Preparation for Parenthood course.