15 July 2006

Ezzo, Ezzo Everywhere

It is officially Ezzo week, many thanks to Tulip Girl for bringing so much good information to light. I wanted to take some time to discuss several things about BabyWise and the Ezzo method that have bothered me for a very long time.

I need to preface this by pointing out that we never even considered using Ezzo's methods to raise our children. One of the advantages of coming late to the parenthood party is that you get to see how the other folks that have been there are doing. The Ezzo method is quite popular in the military community, so we watched quite a few families using it. And everything we saw convinced us that BabyWise was not wise, not in the least. I did read the books from a morbid sense of curiosity. I just had to know what it was that was so attractive to so many, especially when it was obvious that it really was not working. I honestly still do not get the attraction. The books are poorly written, contradictory, and seem designed to make a parent feel like a failure. Why do parents pay good money and follow something like that, when so much sadness can result?

There is the faith thing, at least for me. We are a 'mixed' religion family. I am Lutheran, my husband is Roman Catholic. Gary Ezzo has nary a kind word for the Catholic religion. While I certainly disagree with many of the Catholic Church's teachings, I do so respectfully. And I also see that I agree with far more than I disagree with, and find that I have much common ground with my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. Why would those whose religion is belittled by Mr. Ezzo take his advice on parenting?

What about following the path of someone who is a successful parent? By most accounts, the Ezzos have two adult daughters. Neither daughter has a good relationship or significant contact with the elder Ezzos. I don't know about other people, but I hope to have a strong relationship with my children permanently. I don't think the job of parent ends. Some may say that the current situation has nothing to do with the way the Ezzo girls were parented as babies, but really, how do we know? Why are people willing to take that chance?

All this is nibbling around the edges of what REALLY bothers me. The harm caused by the Ezzo method to many families is well documented. A small sampling of this harm can be found at www.ezzo.info. Yet the Ezzos and their defenders explain it all away. Comments like 'oh they followed it too literally' or 'oh that is not what BabyWise says' or 'oh come on, you can't blame a book for bad parenting' are thrown about. HELLO!! Can we think about this here? If you were hooking up your new dvd player would you accept an instruction book that could not be taken too literally? If the person teaching you how to ride a bike gave you contradictory information, is it your fault that you, being inexperienced, did not know which advice to take? If you were trying to learn geometry, and you studied hard, did everything the book said to do, did all the homework exactly how you were supposed to, but failed miserably, would you accept that it must have been your fault alone? Come on, that is ridiculous. No one would accept these sorts of arguments in any other aspect of their lives, why does anyone accept it from an instruction book on parenting?

Maybe it is because I am a scientist, but to me if a method has a high failure rate, you look at the problem with the method. This is even more true when some of the failures are catastrophic. But in Ezzoland, all success is credited to the method, and all failure is blamed on the practitioner. That is not where I want to live as a parent, and it is not where I want my children to live either.