Tuesday, February 22, 2005

What Goldie says about… Ezzo

Tulipgirl has her last installment out, called “What Ezzo Says About Punishment”. She also says that a “relevant discussion” is going on at this blog (among others), so I thought I couldn’t let her down.

In truth, I don’t have first-hand experience with Ezzo’s parenting material. I’ve never used it. So why do you ask am I against it? I guess because I have heard a lot about it; it seems to be very popular in my home town; and it makes very little sense to me. An old classmate of mine discovered it in the early 90’s, and introduced it in his church. He offered to give me a copy, but, after a brief introduction, I said I’d pass. I didn’t like it that Ezzo, in essence, teaches to punish toddlers for exploring. Ten years later, I read the Babywise/Toddlerwise books, and he indeed does come down pretty hard on the concept of “exploring”, probably thinking that this is some wacko Liberal term for letting your kids get away with murder. Except that my two boys were allowed to explore fairly freely – as freely as they could without hurting themselves or each other - and now both of them are in the gifted program – amazing coincidence?

The other two things that discouraged me from even considering Ezzo were the statements from my friend to the effect of “we don’t know how it works – it just does” and “it only works if you follow it exactly like it says, with no changes or exceptions”. But the biggest scare came when I went to visit my friend’s church, two weeks after his little nephew was born. The church was in a two- or three-story building and the service was on the first floor. Sometime during a break, I wandered off to take a better look around. I ended up on the second floor, in a long hallway, with rooms on one side. No one else was on the floor but me. The rooms had glass doors, and behind one of them, I saw a baby carriage, and a note on the door:

Please do not come in.
There is a baby sleeping in this room.
Thank you.

I only had one son at that time, 16 months old, but I already knew enough about babies to get spooked out of my mind! I didn’t come into the room, though. Feeling completely unreal, I turned around, went back into the fellowship room, and didn’t mention it to anybody. A year later, I got pregnant with my second and discovered Dr. Sears’ “The Baby Book”. I tried it on my kids and it worked beautifully. That is not to say I’d never backslidden – I was a very unexperienced mother and we were going through all sorts of hardships during that period – but I tried my best to stick to AP.

For a long time, I didn’t know the name or the author of the “fabulous American book” that my friend had tried to tell me about. Then in late 2003, I did some research, and with Tulipgirl’s help, I found out that it was indeed Gary Ezzo’s GKGW! My friend’s family, as it turns out, are certified Ezzo trainers. I emailed him and he asked me to read the books in order to have an opinion of my own. I did, and I now have a very strong opinion. In return, I asked him to read Dr. Sears. He didn’t, and he didn’t say he ever would. Here’s my opinion (as if somebody asked).

In his "Various Wise's"/GKGW materials, Gary Ezzo has accomplished a seemingly impossible task of going against everything that I believe in, while remaining my fellow Christian. He targets first-time, young, unexperienced parents, and he lays the guilt on thick. He plays on every first-time parent's fear of spoiling their child. Using the name of God, he harasses the new parents into following his methodics to a T, and, if it doesn’t work for them, he says that they either didn’t follow the correct techniques closely enough, or they followed them too closely (“legalists”). He alienates the parents from their own children, preventing them from forming a bond. He makes it impossible for the children to get any intellectual stimulation, teaching them instead to rigidly follow the rules set by the book. To be honest, the materials don’t provide a whole lot of intellectual stimulation for the parents, either. The end goal is a “like-minded” community much like the one in “1984”. I, on the other hand, work hard towards teaching my children to be independent thinkers, able to analyze whatever the world throws at them, and not accept anything blindly on faith. (Yes, we believe in God, but let’s face it – you have to either believe in God, or believe that He doesn’t exist. Either way, you have to take a leap of faith. There’s no other choice). The day will come when they are out on their own, and I am not around, and there will be no “like-minded community” to help them choose between right and wrong. On that day, they need to be able to think for themselves. With that in mind, GKGW is not the right way for me.

I’ve heard people come down very harshly on Mr. Ezzo. I’ve heard people say that Satan uses him to divide Christians. That he is some sort of evil incarnate. I disagree. I suspect the man is in it entirely for the money. Let’s face it, he’s running a very successful business. He probably doesn’t realize, or doesn’t want to realize, the ramifications of what he’s doing. Reminds me of a little kid at a nuclear power plant, going: “Oooh! What’s this button do?” (BTW, I would never, ever, allow my children to explore freely at a nuclear power plant!)

I just hope for our own good that GKGW does not gain enough popularity. It can wreak havoc if it gets out of control. We can end up with either a generation of rebels on our hands, or, worse, with a generation of like-minded zombies. Realistically, I do not think this will ever happen. The product just doesn’t sell well enough.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:09 PM

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