A list of some of the many lies in the book Babywise
Chapter 1 – Your Baby Needs a Family
In the first chapter, Gary Ezzo establishes his foundational belief, namely that
A healthy husband-wife relationship is essential to the emotional health of children in the home. When there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family. (Page 20)
Marriage, he says, “transcends all other relationships.” (Page 20)
However, in warning parents not to forget their love for each other, he goes as far as to imply that unless they proactively take control, having children join the family will ruin the marriage. Getting along well with each other is not good enough to prevent disaster.
“Be warned, insecurity is fostered by what is not taking place between couples as much as what is taking place.”
What is not taking place, according to Ezzo, is a demonstration of affection for the child’s benefit. This display is to be scheduled into the baby’s daily routine as a “visual expression of your togetherness.” At this prearranged “couch time” father informs baby, “Daddy will play with you after, but Mommy comes first.” Ezzo claims that overt demonstrations such as this will “create a world of confidence” in your child (page 21).
Lie #1; Page 19
Being professionals who provide health and educational services to families…
Also page 37, “As professionals we believe…”
Mr. Ezzo is not a physician, child psychologist, or lactation professional. He was a lay minister who taught parenting classes in his church, including the class for expectant couples he called “Preparation for Parenting.” The book “On Becoming Babywise” was essentially a secularized version of the same material. It was first self-published in 1993, adding Dr. Robert Buckman as co-author, though there were no substantial changes to the material with the doctor’s addition. Unfortunately, despite being co-authored by a physician, there are several false medical statements in the book. A list of 35 unsubstantiated medical claims in the improved and updated 1995 version is available at the following website: http://www.ezzo.info/Aney/unsub.htm .
Lie #2; Page 22
Of all of Chelsea’s emotional needs, her most basic is knowing mom and dad love each other…
An infant’s most basic emotional need is security in knowing that someone will care for her physical needs, since she is totally helpless. Security in knowing her parents love each other is certainly important to the child as she grows up. However, because this book is about infancy, this statement misleads the reader. A newborn infant will not feel secure by seeing expressions of love in others until she experiences love herself first.
Lie #3; Page 22
To Chelsea, [her parents] commitment to one another is clear. It is not an unanswered question in her tiny heart.
Again, this comment confuses infancy with childhood. Chelsea’s tiny heart has no life experience yet and cannot comprehend the meaning of marital commitment. The newborn is not questioning whether or not mom and dad love each other. Only when she is assured of her own security, can she begin to look outward.
For Chelsea to be satisfied beyond her own understanding, she needs simply to watch her parents enjoying each other’s company. (Page 22)
Ezzo believes that having a baby should not change your relationship: “To be a good mom or dad, all you need is to continue as before. That’s it.” (Page 21) Welcome him …to the family, but never place your child at its center. (Page 27)
The problem with that attitude is that since helpless little babies need a lot of attention, they do have to come first and they often are the centre of attention. For grownups to put their own needs ahead of the newborn baby is immature and irresponsible.
Using extreme examples Ezzo portrays two opposing parenting philosophies so it appears to the reader that there are only two all-or-nothing options in parenting. If you do not place your marriage first in importance like the fictional Chelsea’s parents, then you will accidentally fall into what he calls “child-centered parenting” – catering to the child’s every whim, becoming slaves to a spoiled brat like the fictional Marisa. See Child-Centered Parenting
Ezzo says it’s up to the parents to train virtues - kindness, gentleness, charity, honesty, and respect for others - into the baby’s heart (page 24), but he does not encourage parents to model that behavior in their daily care of the baby as we shall see.
The ultimate goal of Babywise is “a beautiful friendship that will blossom in the child’s late teen years.”
“Time and experience are prerequisites for building any friendship,” he says on page 25, “Children enter this world with neither.”
Many parents have experienced a wonderful friendship with their children blossoming in the toddler years. Gary believes that this is a result of “reducing the parental role to the child’s level or raising the child to the status of peer.” How very sad, for parents to have to wait and hope for a good relationship years in the future when they could enjoy each other's company from the beginning.
On page 26 the reader is further warned that they could become child-centered by accident if they don’t take charge. “No one plans to be child-centered,” says Ezzo, “Since infants are entirely dependant on parental care, their dependency creates for new parents a heightened gratification.”
Many parents consider this heightened gratification to be a natural reward for the demands of caring for an infant. Gary Ezzo, however, claims that this pleasure is “a child-centered pitfall.” You need to have a strategy, he says, to avoid the “pitfall” of finding baby care gratifying. He follows with a list of things you should do on a daily and weekly basis – things that do not involve your children – to enhance family unity.