Monday, November 11, 2013

Ezzo's Circus

Chapter 1 – Your Baby Needs A Family
Page 23; 2nd full paragraph

"Marisa’s parents have adopted the child-centred approach. As a result, Marisa will never have to wait for anything. If she wants something, it is given to her on demand. Baby-sitters?  They make Marisa uneasy. So an evening out alone together simply is not an option. Either her parents will take her everywhere they go, or they will miss a function due to Marisa’s inability to take part. As for eating, if Marisa suddenly rejects her bananas, she’ll be offered a variety of options until her particular preference is revealed. Then mom will stock the shelves full of Marisa’s delight, only to learn days later that the child’s pleasure is back to bananas. Welcome to the circus."

So...Ezzo calls this a circus:
- responding to your child
- being sensitive to your child's sense of stranger anxiety
- choosing to not put your child into a state of fear or anxiety in order to please/entertain yourself and your spouse
- not attending events which require family separation
- being sensitive to a child's natural tastes in food preferences

Responding to your proven to be absolutely necessary for healthy development. It is what teaches the child cause and effect. It is what allows the child to develop a sense of right and wrong. Ezzo shows here that he is ignorant of healthy child development.

Proverbs 21:13
He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.

Being sensitive to your child's sense of stranger simply, "doing unto others," and "always consider others as more important than yourself." It is what being Christian is all about. Stranger anxiety is a natural part of a child's healthy development...development created by God. Ezzo shows here that he is completely ignorant of normal brain development.

Isaiah 41:10
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Ezzo believes that mom and dad should have fun and not, "always consider others are more important than yourselves." He believes the parents should consider themselves more important than the child and to put the child first would be, "Child-centric" and bad. Ezzo believes that it doesn't matter if the child experiences fear or anxiety (discomfort) when the parents are absent because what matters is that mom and dad have fun together WITHOUT the child.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Ezzo is also ignorant of the development of taste and food preferences, and the importance of following the child's lead. 

Even Jesus had sort of an odd diet...

Isaiah 7:15
He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.

A circus is where you go to see humans do "impossibly amazing things." A circus is where you go to see amazing and even mind boggling displays of strength, endurance, skill, and wonder. 

Could it be that perhaps, Ezzo is right? Could it be that...for parents to give up their own give up themselves and follow Christ's example...for parents to put their child's needs and life before their own...and respond to their child in every way at any time of the day or not no matter the a spiritual circus (aka place of amazingness and wonder?)? 

Could it be that the home that Ezzo scorns is actually a home where people would "want to come to see from miles around"...and could enter and see "amazing and mind boggling displays of spiritual strength, endurance, skill, and wonder"? A home where the parents can work together with such precision as to do "death-defying acts" with ease...and even "tame lions"? Could be...

Further study:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chapter one: Your Baby Needs a Family

This is simply where I will be posting the notes I hope to turn into a book eventually...This is all "rough draft" stuff...and will be added to and modified as I can work on it.
Blue text represents quotes out of the 2001 version of the book, "On Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo.

- - -

Chapter 1 "Notes"

"The goal of parenting is not simply to avoid excessive anxiety, but to create a world of confidence by what we do with each other as much as by what we avoid doing." pg. 21
Not responding to a child's expressed needs would fall into the category of "avoiding doing" but how does this effect humans? In "The Neurobiology of Human Relationships" by Louis Cozolino he explains that "Borderline Personality Disorder" can be caused by attachment trauma. The author states that, "Attachment trauma can result from physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, or profound misattunement between parent and child."

Science has shown that what happens to your children during their first 3 years of life is permanently expressed in their physical brain and sets the groundwork for the rest of their lives. The way mom and dad interact with baby will teach the baby in a "set in their neuropathways"  kind of way what to expect from all future relationships. As you read Ezzo's book you have to ask yourself how his advice would shape your baby's outlook and expectations on all of their future relationships. 

"Every day, Chelsea observes her mom and dad relating to one another. Confirmation of their love relationship is witnessed daily…" pg. 22

"For Chelsea to be satisfied beyond her own understanding, she needs simply to watch her parents enjoying each other's company." pg. 22
What is kind of sad about this is that Ezzo believes that one can learn how to have relationships by watching others?

We don't learn how to have relationships by watching TV or watching our parents but by being related to and relating to others. This is sad. One cannot learn how to relate to others by "watching" from afar and being excluded.

"Child-centered parenting"…pg. 23
Ezzo's idea of "Child-centered parenting" seems to be his idea and his alone. A phrase or description of parenting which is not founded in current science but is something that he has created to describe all parenting that is not according to his way of parenting. It is Ezzo’s way or it is “child-centered” and bad. This is consistent with his parenting style which is the same way: the parent’s way is the only right way.

If you look into the different parenting styles that have been identified by professionals who are trained (as Ezzo is not) you will find four basic ones: authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful. 


The four different styles are described as:

Authoritative parenting
The parent is demanding and responsive.
Authoritarian parenting
The parent is demanding but not responsive.
Indulgent parenting
The parent is responsive but not demanding.
Neglectful parenting
The parent is neither demanding nor responsive.

The style of parenting that is the most recommended by child-rearing experts (people educated in this area) is Authoritative. 

If Ezzo believes that his way is “God’s way” and that the other option is “child-centered” one would have to ask Ezzo what style of parenting he would believe that his “infant management system” would be? The following quote from Ezzo would seem to indicate that he believes that “responsiveness” to the child is a bad thing and will result in a “me-centered” adult. Yet, Ezzo goes on to tell about poor (made-up) Marisa who is in this awful environment...

Pg. 23 describes this terrible situation: "Marisa's parents have adopted the child-centered approach. As a result, Marisa will never have to wait for anything. If she wants something, it is given to her on demand. Baby-sitters? They make Marisa uneasy. So an evening out alone together simply is not an option. Either her parents will take her everywhere they go, or they will miss a function due to Marisa's inability to take part. As for eating, if Marisa suddenly rejects her bananas, she'll be offered a variety of options until her particular preference is revealed." 

 All of that is so revealing about Ezzo himself and is disturbingly sad. Ezzo believes that Marisa will end up being a "selfish, emotionally crippled egomaniac" because her parents take her feelings into consideration as they make choices about Marisa's life. Honestly, I should be able to stop writing right here, and anyone who has ever picked up Ezzo's book should stop right there and throw the book away knowing that the author is in now way in touch with reality!

 Here, we see that Ezzo does not understand "separation anxiety" or the damage it can do AND we see where on the scale he places the value of the family unit: "Baby-sitters? They make Marisa uneasy. So an evening out alone together simply is not an option. Either her parents will take her everywhere they go, or they will miss a function due to Marisa's inability to take part."

He feels that taking into consideration the fact that a child is disturbed by being left by mom and dad will ruin Marisa.

He does not address or understand the science of "attachment" and the reason Marisa might feel this way. He believes that Marisa's disturbance is not even worthy of scientific investigation or consideration and uses the word "uneasy" to suggest that Marisa's feelings are not credible.

He makes it sound like a burden that the poor parents can't have any fun BECAUSE they have to take Marisa with them everywhere they go!

He makes it clear that these "functions" outside the home are more important than the family unit because these parents will suffer if they have to miss something they can't take their baby to.

Ezzo titles this chapter, "Your Baby Needs a Family" but is very clearly missing the point of, the joy of, and the happiness that is found in the "family unit". 

"Sadly, Marisa's parents are not aware of the disabling impact their attitude has on their daughter. Instead of building Marisa into a self-assured adult, they are fostering the emotionally crippling attitude of me-ism. Every day, Marisa's understanding of her place in life is shaped by the feedback she gets from those around her. If she believes she is central to the family universe, her self-centered feeling will carry over into every relationship in her ever-expanding world." pg. 23

Here, we need to define a few things. Ezzo talks of the disabling impact that "child-centered parenting" has on Marisa. They say that this will prevent her from becoming a self-assured adult who is focused on "me".

Selfishness is defined as:
selfish |ˈselfi sh |adjective
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure


A selfish person is a person who lacks consideration for others, who is concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

How does a person learn to have consideration for others?

Ezzo talks about Marisa who Ezzo says is fictitious or made-up in his mind. Perhaps Ezzo must use fictitious examples because he doesn’t have real examples from real life and real experience? One will note an absence of any children or grandchildren on his own personal website. A man who wrote this popular book on how to raise a happy family should certainly be a model of that, but, is actually a very lonely old man. 

I have had experiences with all aspects of parenting and will, unlike Ezzo, use real life ones throughout this book.

I have witnessed it in my family of eight children, that the children treat each other the way I treat them. They are little reflectors, which is their God-given design. Just as we are to reflect our Heavenly Father, the children will reflect how we treat them.

And, I have had experiences with other people’s children and have seen how their parents treat them reflected there.

Tori is my 2-year old who would be by Ezzo’s definition a child who lives in a “child-centered” world. Last night she hurt her older sister, Elisa, by accident and her sister started to cry. Tori watched her and when she realized she’d hurt Elisa her face slowly contorted and we watched as her little heart broke and she started to weep. After she cried for a little she got up and stood before Elisa and looked expectantly into her eyes with tears streaming down her face. I asked, “Do you need Elisa to forgive you?” and she shook her head, “yes”.

What Tori was displaying was “empathy”. 


empathy |ˈempəθē|noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.


How does one learn empathy except by experience? And, that means that one has to be treated with empathy in order to be able to have it for others.

Ezzo says, Every day, Marisa's understanding of her place in life is shaped by the feedback she gets from those around her.” And, here he speaks the truth though he comes to the wrong conclusion. When a child is listened to, they will listen to others. When a child is responded to according to what they express, they will learn to respond to others according to what others express. So, Ezzo’s next statement on page 24, “Other people simply will not matter to Marisa” is not logical, factual, Biblical, or supported by science in any way.


Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others.

These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships.

Risk factors for BPD include:
Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
Disrupted family life
Poor communication in the family
Sexual abuse


This is just one psychological condition that has as a risk factor/cause: "poor communication in the family". 

The book, "The Neurobiology of Human Relationships" by Louis Cozolino says that attachment trauma can lead to this condition and that, "Attachment trauma can result from physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, or profound misattunement between parent and child."

When Ezzo mocks Marisa's parents for taking her feelings and preferences into consideration he is suggesting that "being attuned" to your child is bad. But, science has shown that misattunement between parent and child does not lead to happy, content adults as Ezzo would have you believe.

Ezzo then speaks of another fictitious (made up in his mind) child on pg. 24 who “Everyone comments on her peace and joy.” Because Chelsea has learned the concept of “we-ism”. But, how factual is this fictitious story? Could Ezzo have confused “lifelessness” for “peace”? 

Again, I have a "real-life" example...that ironically does include a dislike of bananas...
The child in this story was fed bananas in the form of cold banana soup on a weekly basis. The child hated it. Hated it so much that once this boy became a man it became a "joke" known to all of his friends that he would not even touch a banana. But, when he was a boy, he was not permitted to express displeasure over the banana soup. It was known to his mother that he hated it, but, he had to eat it every week regardless and was not permitted to protest without a penalty. So, this little boy would sit quietly and eat that soup every time it was put before him. Ezzo would hail this as a sign that parenting is going well! He would see this boy silently eating soup he hated as "peace" and would claim that unlike Marisa who will grow up "emotionally crippled" this boy will grow into a selfless and emotionally happy individual! 

But, the silence while eating the soup knowing that any protest will result in a spanking...the silence in that child was not peace. It was anything but peace! It was repression. 

This boy learned that when he didn't like something it was painful and unwelcome to express that...and so now that he is a man he still struggles to know himself and to express himself, struggles to identify and express needs, and as a result struggles daily to relate to his wife with whom he has constant miscommunication and stress.

I am confident that had his mother said to him, "What? You're saying you dislike this soup? Well, let's work on a solution to this. What can you eat instead on the days I make this?" and either made him something different or gave him the opportunity to make himself something different on those days...I am confident that that would have instilled qualities in that boy that would have resulted in a MUCH healthier and confident man. It would not have turned him into some egomaniac who had no regard to others' feelings, but, would have taught him that sometimes the things we do need to be modified if it affects another negatively...and it would have taught him that when there is something wrong in his world how to seek out healthy ways to change his world. It would have taught him that he and his feelings can make a difference.

Ezzo says on pg. 25, “Back at Marisa’s home, her mom and dad continue to strive for buddy status. They yearn for friendship, elevating Marisa to the level of peer.” But what is he talking about? Which parenting style is this that he’s referring to? Or, does Ezzo feel that “responsiveness to the child” is the big no-no? Does he feel parents who are responsive to the child are “striving for buddy status”?

And, one would have to ask the question also, what is a “buddy”?


buddy |ˈbədē| informal noun ( pl. -dies)
a close friend.
• a working companion with whom close cooperation is required.

Ezzo clearly views this as “distasteful” and would have to say it is not how to “Grow Kids God’s Way” but…was not Abraham called a “friend of God”? And, isn’t that an honor we’d all love to achieve with God? Do we not pray because we expect God to “respond” to us? And, doesn’t He respond to us?

I can tell you from personal experience that my most recent child who has been raised completely contrary to anything Ezzo would say is good will sometimes look at me and spontaneously say, “I love you, Mommy! You are my best friend!” The honor that that is is indescribable.

And, what is a peer? Ezzo sees Marisa’s parents elevating her to a buddy (close friend) by treating her as a “peer” and Ezzo believes this will result in a selfish person who has no thought of others.


peer |pi(ə)r|noun
2 a person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person


Clearly no parent will treat believe their child has the same age, or ability as they do. The only way a parent would then see their child as a “peer” would to see their child as having the same “status” as they do.

Basically, a parent who treats their child as a “close friend” or gives respect to their child as having an equal “status” is…

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important thanyourselves

Ezzo says, “Chelsea’s 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 on her compliance. Chelsea, in turn, acquires the sense that she belongs to something bigger than herself. She belongs to a family with predetermined guidelines and firmly established order. This realization for Chelsea gives family relationships meaning and purpose. 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.”

On the one hand he mocks Marisa’s parents one page earlier who “continue to strive for buddy status. They yearn for friendship,” yet now he says, friendship is a “gift” that “should be every parent’s goal”.

He also seems to not understand what “friendship” is.


friend |frend|noun
a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.


Ezzo believes that only “time” can give Chelsea’s parents the gift of friendship with their daughter. But, when one looks into Ezzo’s biography, his own children became estranged from him once they were grown. They did not grow up to become his friend. (

Ezzo says on pg. 26, “Since infants are entirely dependent on parental care, their dependency creates for new parents a heightened gratification. What you need is a strategy for avoiding child-centered pitfalls.”

He makes the claim also on pg. 26 that, “The baby will not suffer separation anxiety from one night without mom. If you never had a date night, start now!”

Separation anxiety. Ezzo brought it up, but, does he understand what it is? Here, I believe I need to explain a bit to you about human attachment.


I have chosen Wikipedia as the source for copying and pasting this definition since it is not a “pro-Attachment parenting site” but rather just a free encyclopedia.

Attachment theory
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans especially as in families and life-long friends. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally, and that further relationships build on the patterns developed in the first relationships. Attachment theory is an interdisciplinary study encompassing the fields of psychological, evolutionary, and ethological theory. It developed as a result of the experiences of child care professionals during World War II in England in caring for the many thousands of small children temporarily separated from their parents or orphaned. The theory was formulated by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby.[1]

Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some months during the period from about six months to two years of age. When an infant begins to crawl and walk they begin to use attachment figures (familiar people) as a secure base to explore from and return to. Parental responses lead to the development of patterns of attachment; these, in turn, lead to internal working models which will guide the individual's perceptions, emotions, thoughts and expectations in later relationships.[2] Separation anxiety or grief following the loss of an attachment figure is considered to be a normal and adaptive response for an attached infant. These behaviours may have evolved because they increase the probability of survival of the child.[3]


Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive…and the parental responses lead to the internal working models which are the foundation for all future relationships! What we, as parents, do with our babies lays the foundation for them as to what to expect from all future relationships! This is a tremendous responsibility.

Ezzo wants to assure you that therefore the best foundation you are to lay for your child is that others will “govern” you and that friendship with those closest to you is just something to aspire for in the distant future.

Ezzo wants you to believe that to lay a foundation for your child which would have the child feel that you are their friend and that they can interact with others in a way which will lead to a response from others is bad.

God says that the way we train our kids up will not be departed from. As you continue to investigate Ezzo’s book, you must ask yourself how “wise” it truly is about babies. And, how the things done today with your baby will manifest when that child is an adult.

I can say that there are many true “tidbits” sprinkled throughout his book, but, that is the case with all lies. Satan sprinkled enough truth in his lie to get Adam and Eve to fall.

Ezzo’s summary of Chapter 1 on page 27 says we need to “safeguard against child-centered parenting”. But, you have to remember that this is a term that Ezzo has made up, and seems to be defined as “responsive” parenting, which, as science shows, is necessary for healthy human attachment to occur.  For Ezzo to “mock” responsive parenting and to warn readers to “safeguard against” it really should be a red flag that Gary Ezzo does not know what he is talking about. He does not understand human biology, or child development.

As a parent investigating what is the right way to raise your child, you must realize that your choices are not two: “Ezzo’s way” or this dreaded, “Child-centered parenting”. There are four basic ways for you to raise your child and if you are a Christian the truth is on your heart and built into your biology and will actually flow naturally if you respond to the biology God created you with. God has given you all that you need to be able to raise your child, “God’s Way”. It is difficult to do in a world where old-wives have so much advice for us and our culture has developed so many things that are accepted as the way things are, but, if you are sincere in wanting to raise your children the “right” way, you will find the answer.

Ezzo’s “Questions for Review”
1.    Of all Chelsea’s primary emotional needs, which is most basic?
2.    What happens when a child perceives weakness in his or her parents’ relationship?
3.    What is the first step to breaking up a family?
4.    What emotional disability does child-centered parenting produce?
5.    How long should parents act as governors in the lives of their children?
6.    What is the role of friendship in the parenting process?

Alternative (better) Questions for Chapter One:
1. What are the basic needs of all human infants?
2. How might God have designed a baby to get those needs met? How might God have designed parents to be able to identify and meet those needs?
3. What emotional disability does responding to a person according to their expressed needs produce?
4. What emotional disability does ignoring a person’s expressed needs possibly produce?
5. How does being controlled and having desires ignored effect people?
6. What are the possible effects of expressing respect toward your child? How might a child feel to be treated as though their opinions, beliefs, preferences matter to their parent?
7. Do all human beings have preferences that are individual?
8. If a child had a preference against the flavor of bananas and really didn’t like to eat them and they expressed that to mom and dad how would it make the child feel if mom and dad cared and tried to find something for them to eat that they liked? How might the child feel if their mom and dad did not care that they really didn’t like bananas and made them eat them anyway. What would either of those options tell a child about the validity of their feelings/opinions/preferences?
9. If a child disliked eating bananas, and their parents made changes to feed them something they liked, how might this affect how the child sees the parents? What would this teach by example to the child about love and respect?