Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stirrin' Up a Little Controversy

so, can we talk parenting books for a sec? i know that many of you parents out there have books that you love, and books that you love to hate. at least, those of you who approach life like i do, which is to read any and all material i can get on a subject before making the "big dive in". i did this before getting married, when thinking about starting a family, and of course, once the babies came there were all manner of things to research and think about. i affectionately refer to it as my "obsession phase", the phase directly before i make major life decisions.

anyway, in the process of doing this in the parenting realm, i came to realize just how controversial some of these books can be. who knew, right? i mean, before i got pregnant, i had *no idea* that there was this world of polarized opinions, and every parent has them. i guess it makes sense....parenthood is such a high-stakes endeavor, and everyone is just trying to do their best...but critiquing one book's message can very well offend those who thought those ideas were just right for their family.

all this to say, that no offense is meant to anyone reading who happens to think that the books i'm about to talk about are either a) the best thing that ever happened to their family, a lifesaver, something that should be read by every man, woman and child, or b) the worst, most dangerous batch of misinformed rubbish to ever be hoodwinked over the unsuspecting populace. apparently, there is no middle ground.

i have embroiled myself in the midst of this maelstrom once again, and willingly. our church offers a parenting sunday school class, and like many churches, the curriculum they chose was written by Gary Ezzo. many of the parents out there are familiar with him on some level, as he wrote the wildly popular book "Babywise." (and its many incarnations....seriously, there are about three hundred.) the books are very user friendly, so it's very easy to plug them in to a sunday school curriculum.

however, the books outline a parenting style fairly diametrically opposed to mine, as well as carrying a fair bit of hyperbole about any style that contradicts theirs. there is actually quite a cloud of controversy which i won't bore you with, (if you are interested, you can look here for one side of the debate). but more than that, i wanted to have our church be able to help parents dialogue about this and the many options available, rather than just present one side through this curriculum. as a young mom, i always felt like these books were some kind of moral imperative, but they were *so* far from my understanding of God and my role as a parent that i felt really discouraged and alone. i don't want other young families to feel this way because our church only offers one side of things.

so, i am in the midst of creating an alternative for our church. ideally, this would be a packet of discussion materials that present excerpts from at least two styles of parenting, and possibly more if i can find them. they would be grouped by subject (i.e. sleep, feeding, discipline, etc) and give a starting point for group discussion as well as resources for future research, should the parents want to pursue more information. i don't know if we will keep the ezzo materials because of their inflammatory style, but i would like to find other options that may present a similar parenting style to his so that it is still represtented in the discussion.

which is where you come in. i'm sure there are some reading who really love ezzo's books, and i respect that--in fact, i need your help. do you have any other resources that have helped you, that are similar but not "his"? or, if not, what are the most compelling parts of his system, and the ones that really "clicked"? for those who don't love them, what alternates did you find helpful? and for all...what subjects would be most important to you as far as an overview goes? also, is anyone aware of a meyers-briggs type test that could help parents discern their own parenting style?

and for those of you who aren't parents, feel free to weigh in. we are an equal-opportunity blog. thank you.


TheOzz said...


I wish you the best with your project to create a new parenting curriculum.

I for one am very fond of Ezzo. Might I recommend to balance out your article a bit from a neutrality standpoint?


christy said...

hi hank,

thanks for dropping in! i appreciate your view on ezzo, and i know many people share it. however, as i mentioned in my post, his style is fairly inflammatory against any other possible opinions, so we are looking for a way to present a similar method without the accompanying hyperbole.

i will check out the website you posted to see if there are resources we can use for this purpose.

you said that you are very fond of ezzo--may i ask what your favorite parts of his method would be? what would you see as the "highlights", that you would want to be sure were included in our summary?

thanks again...christy

joysnatcher said...

hi Christy, just have a minute, but am interested.

I have looked at No Greater Joy, and they have approaches that might be similar to the Ezzos.

I read Babywise before Charles was born and thought it sounded good, but then I had the baby and decided that it wasn't for me.

That said, we just started watching the Ezzo videos, and like them (we've only watched 1.5). What I like is the time we spend together figuring out what we will be doing to raise the boys. Also the idea of giving the kids REASONS for why you are asking them to do things. And explaining that our ethical system is a result of our salvation, not a way to obtain it (like so many worldwide). I'm not being very clear, I fear.

But I think many child-rearing philosophies would have you do this. I don't know.

I do know that some dear family friends used it, their kids are in their teens, and they are the most amazing teenagers I have met. Very social, very active, very amiable, intelligent, and they love God, etc. So we thought we'd check it out.

I don't have a ton of time to write excessive reviews, but there's a little something.

Again, I have a feeling that any "program" a family chose would accomplish the most important thing: getting the parents on the same page.

Kathy said...

For something that might embody Ezzo's point of view without actually bringing him to the table, so to speak, you might check out Dr. John MacArthur's parenting book. You probably realize that Ezzo launched his series from the platform given to him by his position at MacArthur's church, and that he then left after the elders brought several concerns to him about theology and factiousness in the materials and attitudes they were seeing among the class graduates in their church.

On the spectrum of parenting ideas, though, I suspect MacArthur and Ezzo would share many ideas, having been rooted in the same soil. So that would be one place to look.

Good luck!

Having seen the kind of sad division that you are also grieving over, I really am glad you're trying to address it. I hope that whatever you do will encourage mutual support among parents, even though they may choose to do things differently from one another. I think people who hold differing approaches to parenting can learn from one another and help one another find balance as they move toward maturity.

christy said...

christy and kathy....thanks for your ideas, i will check them out. i need all the help i can get!

anyone else out there?

TulipGirl said...

You may get more feedback asking at AwareParent.Net. Both Ezzo and non-Ezzo parents dialog there.

nates5bs said...

We used Babywise with our kids. I am a scheduled type of gal so it worked well for us, however, I can easily become a slave to my schedule so I had to learn to use my "God filter" and use the books as a guide not a rulebook. By the fourth kid, we used the skeleton of the philosophy and followed a general routine, but not a strict schedule.

Lisa Welchel has some creative thoughts in her "Creative Correction" book.

We also have raised our children from a book called, "To Train Up a Child" by No Greater Joy Ministries. Again, the same thing applies. I use my "God filter" when reading anything from them.

I also like the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart". Another one that I've filtered.

The thing to keep in mind is that all of these books are a guide, meant to be filtered through God's Word and covered in much prayer. He's the one who made them so I figure He's who I should consult as to how to raise them!