10 Years of GKGW

I want to share our story in the hope that it may perhaps help to warn others who are heading down the Growing Kids God's Way path.

We still ask ourselves, how could we have been deceived for so long?

In 1992, dear friends of ours, who had found Preparation For Parenting [PFP] the previous year, recommended Growing Kids God's Way [GKGW] to my husband and me. Our eldest son was 2 ½ years old. We had come from a cue feeding/attachment parenting background, but we were very young, immature Christians, and our marriage was less than happy.

Perhaps we took the philosophy and practical guidelines of GKGW too literally? If so, we were certainly not the only ones. Most of our peer group following GKGW materials parented their kids the same way as we did, mirroring our example. Close friends outside that circle were afraid to share their concerns about our harsh methods of parenting. We ignored the advice of our parents, who, on a number of occasions, cautioned that we had unrealistic expectations of our children. We thought we were enlightened, and knew God's Way to parent, taking pride in the observation that our children were "godlier" than most other children we knew. How arrogant we were.



One dynamic that's important to understand about GKGW and the other related curricula is that it becomes a "culture". By that I mean that you do the course, week by week, and everything is supposed to build on the previous lessons, and open questioning or debate is discouraged. Instead you are told to wait and see if your topic is covered in a following week. Your GKGW group eventually becomes a "like-minded community" (the GFI term for it), with its own vocabulary and rationale for everything, and because you care deeply about the "moral health" of your kids (and keeping them "within the funnel"), you tend to mix more and more with the like-minded parents, and steer clear of other influences.

Initially, we met with a group of parents and listened to the audiotapes of GKGW edition 3 together. God used the materials to heal a lot of stuff within our marriage, but it began ten years of controlling, abusive parenting, which we deeply regret. Make no mistake, my husband and I dearly love our children, and were both convinced that the way we were doing things was the biblical way to parent. GKGW instructed us to make the husband/wife relationship the priority relationship, the primary relationship in a system of dependant relationships (I must have committed that to memory, the GFI explanations still flow out so easily!).

The practical side of that, among other things, is that we would make the children wait for a long while before allowing them to interrupt us (for whatever reason) to instill "godly character qualities" of self-control and patience, respect and deference. But by our very actions, we were modeling the exact opposite to them!

The other principle from GKGW that we took to heart is that negative consequences (namely chastizement--GFI's term for spanking--for young children) must follow disobedience, i.e. acts and attitudes of rebellion. Obedience was defined as "right away, all the way, and with a happy heart (attitude)". So every time our little ones did not obey our every instruction in this way, we felt obliged to inflict pain (a spanking) to steer them towards righteousness and godly behavior. Our family life revolved around routines, schedules, and obeying mommy and daddy the first time or else. We often parented out of fear that our children weren't "reaching the standard". It certainly took the joy and spontaneity out of being a parent, and being a child.

Our second child was born and became our first "prep baby" (that term which I was so proud of makes me shudder now). She gained weight well until six weeks, and at her well-baby check, the pediatrician suggested I add another feeding as her weight gain had slowed dramatically. I remember thinking, "No way!!" because she was already sleeping through the night (actually, I ignored her cries), and it would go directly against the principles I was using to "mold a godly, patient, self-controlled child". She cried a lot... a lot!

I remember being so wrung out some days because it was going directly against my mother's heart to listen to her cries, so I gradually squashed my maternal instinct, and ignored the noise. It makes me weep to recall this. I eventually weaned her at 7 months: she was tiny, but not failure to thrive.

She had such a difficult toddlerhood, full of "chastizement" (spanking) and very tight, stifling boundaries. She is very strong-willed, and we had an unbelievable amount of conflict and tension, that I would deal with so differently if I had the time over again. GKGW teaches that weak-willed parents produce a strong-willed child, so we were resolute in our efforts to win every battle at all costs. We expected many things from her that were developmentally inappropriate. At 18 months old, I remember physically restraining her on my knee during church, trying to make her be still and quiet like all the other "godly Ezzo-children", and causing us both so much frustration. She would have been far better off in the church nursery. She hardly ever had a full meal at the table with us for at least half a year during her toddler years, because she would squeal or fuss at some small thing, and we would spank her or put her in isolation.

I became a contact mom when she was 4 ½ months old. How foolish!! I had no medical qualifications, though I was so confident to advise others. I vividly remember counseling moms regarding routines, feedings, sleeping and crying it out. I know now that their babies were hungry (and needing comfort at the breast) too.

We began teaching GKGW, and later Prep for Toddlers, and PFP when our daughter was seven months old (and our oldest child was only 4 ½ yrs old!!) Oh, how I wish we had listened to our internal alarm bells. We knew we were too young and inexperienced to be leading parenting classes, but the thought was that someone had to "stand in the breach" and provide this instruction on godly parenting.

Our next son was born when our daughter was 2 ½ years old. He was a model PFP baby who gained weight like a trooper, and seemed very settled by comparison, though when I look back in his journal he also cried a lot, especially during the "fussy time" (which I know now is actually hunger-related) in the evening. I weaned him at nine months.

By the time we had our fourth child, another son, I was beginning to doubt the practical side of PFP. I fed him much more, yet felt so guilty for deviating from the routine. However, as a result, I began to re-connect to my maternal instinct, and began parenting a lot more gently. This fourth child is very like his sister, and praise God I gave him a lot more room to grow, and develop at his own pace. I weaned him at seven months.

Four years later, God gave us our fifth baby, another son, who has begun a real healing for me. A couple of days after he arrived, my husband commented to me, "It seems crazy that we answer our other children's cries the instant they call, but we feel we must ignore the baby's cry until the next scheduled feeding time."

That was when the lights came on!!! I never looked back. I cue fed him from then, and it was the most beautiful year of my parenting career: listening and responding to his God-given ability to communicate his needs for food and comfort. So we did a full circle, and went back to attachment parenting - where we started with our first baby. He gained weight so admirably, and had all those exquisite "rolls"!!! He weighed about 2 pounds heavier than his chubbiest sibling at 4 - 6 months, and was exclusively breastfed. He did not sleep through the night until around 9 months (and even then would sometimes wake for food or comfort, which I happily gave!), which is completely normal for a non-Ezzo breastfed baby!!!

When he was about 3 months old, the friends who had initially introduced us to GKGW approached us. They had been doing a lot of thinking and research about PFP, GKGW, and the other programs, and the controversy surrounding GFI and the Ezzos. We spent many long nights talking through their concerns, and our own parenting journeys. I began to do some research and my husband and I decided we could no longer support the "ministry," the materials, or the man.

When I read Frank York's "Adventures in Ezzoland" article, it pushed me over the edge, and I resigned my position as contact mom--after 9 1/2years. I can't believe it took me so long. My heart aches for the many families we counseled in "godly parenting," and who still walk the same path we've now left.

The last 16 months since our last child's birth have been a turning point... in tears I have offered apologies to my two eldest children for the abuse I inflicted in the name of godly parenting. They have both been so forgiving, and our relationship is close and healthy. Our children are all well behaved, but we are now giving them SPACE to develop appropriately and at their own pace. God is doing a work of healing in our hearts and in our family, as He is restoring the years the locusts have destroyed. Through the experience of caring for this newest baby, the children have developed a wonderful sweet, nurturing way with him. It makes my heart sing!!!

Our parenting philosophy and style have changed drastically! The most important thing for us now is not first time obedience, but the RELATIONSHIPS within our family. A relationship with God, our loving father. Tender relationships with each other. Our marriage relationship is still important, but it is not the hierarchical priority. Kind words. Gentle touches and voice tone. Warmth and trust. Lots of smiles and encouragement and affirmation. Having a lot of fun, and letting God do His work in our children's lives. We still believe in training, but not in the way GKGW teaches. We choose a "nurturing" rather than a confrontational style these days.

Well, that's about it so far. I am thankful that life is one big journey. God, in His grace, has taken us out of the miry clay, and placed our feet upon a rock - Himself. I am taking time to build and restore friendships with my kids. Our eldest has just reached teenage years and is a delightful, intense thinker, who has a real passion for God. Our daughter has retained her wonderful, bubbly nature and her zest for life. Our other sons are unique in their own special ways, and certainly don't fit a "one size fits all" parenting approach.

Our prayer is that we would continue to grow with our children, rediscovering the God of the Bible in a new and wonderful way, and to parent with the Bible as our handbook - not a parenting program; to parent with prayerful hearts, according to our God-given personalities and our own cultural heritage.

The author is a mother of 5 children, an ex-contact mom and ex-teacher of Ezzo programs.

Stories of Former Users and Supporters

  • On Becoming Wise to Ezzo's Information +

    Ezzo's book, Babywise, was suggested to me through some really great friends at church.  They had a picture perfect daughter who napped well, seemed to go with the flow, and seemed pretty independent.  I praised my friends for such great parenting and they told me to read this book and apply it as soon as possible. When we were pregnant, we read this book over and over.  I was thrilled my husband agreed to go through with this type of parenting.
    Read More
  • Follow Jesus, Not Methods +

    I read Babywise while pregnant with my first son.  At that time, I was a proud, over-achieving, controlling, perfectionist of a mother who was thrilled that I had stumbled upon the "perfect" and "godly" parenting method.  I felt that by having control over my baby's schedule, I was setting them up for a solid relationship with Jesus Christ because they would naturally bow to authority. Everything went according to plan with my son.  He was on the schedule and sleeping through the night at nine weeks.  I glowed beneath the
    Read More
  • Our un-Wise Baby Experience +

    Encouragement for Christian Parents Before having our first baby, I thought I had the whole ‘rearing children’ thing sorted.  I had watched my older siblings raise their children, done plenty of babysitting, and even helped mothers with post natal depression for a while.  I thought fussy babies were created by fussy mothers, and was convinced I would have an easy child who would sleep through the night by the six weeks.  I certainly wouldn’t be one of ‘those’ mothers still getting up during the night for their six month old!
    Read More
  • Naïve Young Parents in Chicago +

    My husband and I were newlyweds in the Chicago area, and about to have our first child. We wanted to learn more about parenting from a Christian perspective so we went to a GFI parenting class at church where we could get together with new parents-to-be. My frustration is that it seems the Ezzos never took into consideration the moms who suffer from PPD. My depression was pretty debilitating and when my son wasn't "following the program" so to speak, it created a lot of additional stress.
    Read More
  • Failure to Thrive +

    I was given Babywise (the 2001 edition) and being an uninformed, naive mother the book's goal sounded good to me. I was so thrilled when my daughter suddenly started sleeping 8-10, even 12 hours overnight! She never cried herself to sleep so I really thought everything was okay. She was responding just as the book had said she would. I had, by Ezzo's description, the "perfect" child: the one who easily fell into her feeding schedule and who was sleeping 10+ hours at night. It was picture perfect. She just
    Read More
  • Nourishing and Nurturing +

    I am a first time mom. My son is now 6 months old. Before he was born, I was referred to the Babywise books by Ezzo. I thought, "Wow, what a practical and perfectly logical way to manage feedings." So, I tried it. When my baby was 2 weeks old, I began the Babywise recommended feeding routine. It seemed to be working great. He was really rarely fussy. He was just a happy baby. But at around 3 months of age he was beginning to get a little fussier. I
    Read More
  • Baby Loves Routine +

    Before my son was born I really hadn't given much thought as to "how" to feed a baby; I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and all of the mainstream parenting books I had read made it seem so easy. I figured it would be as easy as Baby Cries, Baby Latches On, Baby Eats. I was in for a rude awakening once he was born. I had a very hard time getting the hang of breastfeeding, and had very little support. I only had one friend who breastfed, and
    Read More
  • Read the Baby, Not the Book +

    I'm thankful my Babywise experience was a short one. At the recommendation of friends, I was planning to use the Babywise method to get my baby on a schedule right away. It was especially attractive to me since I was recovering from a c-section and desperate for sleep and structure. I had a fairly long hospital stay because of the surgery, and it was a rough time both for me and for the baby. At first, it was easy to get him to eat or sleep when I wanted him
    Read More
  • Pediatric Nurse and ex-Ezzo Parent +

    My husband and I faithfully read this book and the full Growing Kids God's Way curriculum. We were excited to be presented with seemingly sound advice and felt prepared to face every part of parenting. We followed the advice on feeding and sleep schedules very closely, until my 5 week old son began failing to gain weight. Fortunately I am a pediatric nurse and noticed the early signs before his health was severely affected. I visited a lactation consultant and learned that my milk supply was almost gone (pumping only
    Read More
  • Our Journey to Freedom +

    I was only ten weeks pregnant when my husband and I signed up to take Prep for Parenting [now called "Along the Infant Way" and also known as Babywise in its secular form] at a reputable church. Family members and friends recommended the course. We wanted to be the best parents we could possibly be for our first child. My husband didn't really want to take the classes, not due to lack of interest in fatherhood, but rather, he thought the idea of taking a class to prepare you for
    Read More
  • GKGW Myths and Misconceptions +

    A former GFI Contact Mom and pastor's wife speaks from the heart I would first like to dispel some of the myths about people who speak out against Growing Kids God's Way. Myth: People who don't like GKGW have never read or used GKGW. I was a contact mom for 2 years, and not only followed the materials myself but counseled hundreds of other moms in their use. In fact, there are still ideas contained in GKGW (ideas which can also be found elsewhere) that I use today. Myth: People
    Read More
  • Just in Time +

    My son is 11 months old and is healthy and happy and still nursing like a pro. If I were still schedule feeding him, I think he would be formula fed, sad and distant. I read Baby Whisperer and Babywise before J. was born, but I didn't really come to any decision on whether to put him on a schedule or not. I knew that the AAP, the health unit and my doctor advocated feeding on demand, but the scheduling seemed to make more sense. I mean, after all, who
    Read More
  • A Pastor's Wife's Experience and Observations +

    When my first baby was about 6 weeks old I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I had no friends with babies and my family lived 5 hours away.  I was very isolated. I didn't know what was normal and what wasn't.  I got most of my support from my mom which was great except she never breastfed a baby.  I was very committed to breastfeeding for financial reasons: my husband was a pastor and we were on a very strict budget. Formula just wasn't an option. A young mother in my
    Read More
  • Frazzled and Uptight No More +

    I was totally convinced that Ezzo was the way to go. In fact, before my daughter was born, nobody could convince me that Ezzo was bad. I was very determined to have a "good" kid. However, I was an extremely uptight, frazzled Babywiser. I was always aware of what time it was, when the last feeding was, when the next one was due. I had a huge notebook and I took tons of notes, trying to figure out what worked to minimize the crying.
    Read More
  • Learning to Trust my Instincts +

    I'm a mom of 5, including a pair of twins. We took the Prep for Parenting class while pregnant with my oldest. I knew absolutely nothing about kids or babies, so I believed everything they told me--except I had a nagging uneasiness in the back of my mind because I felt they misused the Bible. I did not enjoy my first daughter's babyhood. I was miserable when she was crying alone in her room, yet felt that she would be 'spoiled' if I went in to her, and she would
    Read More
  • It's One or the Other +

    [and other Babywise myths that hooked us.] "Of COURSE you can rock your baby to sleep! Just don't make it a habit." Before I had my baby, this actually made sense. After I had her, I remember thinking: "How much is a habit? I did it once yesterday ... can I do it again today? What if I did it twice in one day?" Not to mention that if a newborn baby is crying and you comfort it by rocking or nursing, it will almost surely fall asleep. So, basically, "Don't
    Read More
  • Mothering with Babywise: My Secret Pain +

    It started innocently enough. I was visiting a friend who recently gave birth to a baby girl. Sitting on her couch, sipping tea, I asked her, "So…how often do you feed your daughter?" It was then that I was introduced to the principles of Babywise. Being pregnant myself for the first time, I was intrigued. A couple of days later, I bought the book. I read it within days, and knew it was for me. Being an organized person, I feared chaos in my home once a baby was born.
    Read More
  • From Babywise to Enjoying my Baby +

    From hearing my friends talk, I thought Babywise was the only way to raise your baby, so there was no question that I would use it too. I read the book before my daughter was born and re-read it again after she was born. I felt like I had to really work hard to get her on a schedule or she would be a brat and never sleep through the night. So, the first week I immediately tried getting her on a three hour schedule. I always felt guilty when
    Read More
  • Less Stressed Without Babywise +

    I would have said that we were happy following Ezzo, but I can honestly say that we are much happier now. I am so much less stressed out! I didn't realize how much stress Babywising put on me until I quit. So many people had told me how wonderful a program Babywise was to get babies to sleep through the night and get order into your day. I think that was a large part of the appeal, not so much the sleeping through the night, but the orderly day. I
    Read More
  • 10 Years of GKGW +

    I want to share our story in the hope that it may perhaps help to warn others who are heading down the Growing Kids God's Way path. We still ask ourselves, how could we have been deceived for so long? In 1992, dear friends of ours, who had found Preparation For Parenting [PFP] the previous year, recommended Growing Kids God's Way [GKGW] to my husband and me. Our eldest son was 2 ½ years old. We had come from a cue feeding/attachment parenting background, but we were very young, immature Christians,
    Read More
  • Deep Regrets, New Mercies +

    Our family was involved with Gary Ezzo’s teachings from the winter of 1991 when I was pregnant with our first child until almost two years ago. When we were first exposed to his teachings, I was only two years out of university where I had completed a broad social sciences degree. If you had asked me about infant feeding routines I would have said they were NOT the way to go - that is, before I listened to the Preparation for Parenting tapes with my husband and another couple we were
    Read More
  • Relaxing into a Routine +

    More and more since we've distanced ourselves from the GFI materials, I realize how deeply influenced we were. I didn't have some of the discipline or milk supply problems that I've heard about, but we've had other problems--mainly a deep misunderstanding of what is child-appropriate behavior, and consequently, we stressed out over things that we never should have been upset about (from the infant stage to now at the primary aged child). I've had to re-learn how to relax about certain things, and create an atmosphere of trust and understanding
    Read More
  • If I Could Turn Back the Clock +

    I would give anything in the world to be able to turn back the clock and learn about the concerns and controversy surrounding Ezzo's methods before my dear daughter was born. I was not aware of any of the problems with his teachings; I had only heard positive things about his books and knew friends who were using or had used his books when I started following Babywise with my own daughter (when she was about 2 weeks old). I am a very by-the-book, black-and-white type person. I'm also a
    Read More
  • Coping with Attachment Disorder +

    We were introduced to Ezzo materials in 1995 through our church group of young adults. By the time we were pregnant (Sept 95) many families had been through the course. Everyone kept telling us how we HAD to do the program--it's the best, it works, it's incredible, you won't be sorry, you'll feel so much better about being a parent. The positive statements never ended. We took it early in 96, and finished a few weeks before I was due. My son was born, and had a very traumatic birth.
    Read More
  • The "Y" Family's Experience +

    In writing this testimony, we have seen arguments that people who fail with Ezzo's materials are unintelligent or inconsistent with the materials. My husband and I are well-educated people. My husband graduated from Emory University and had an additional four years of graduate school (total of eight years of education) to become a doctor of optometry. I have a degree in special education and had a few years of teaching experience under my belt when we encountered the Ezzo's materials. We are also Christians, wholly devoted to Christ and rearing
    Read More
  • The "H" Family's Experience +

    An In-depth Case History My husband and I were introduced to the Growing Kids God's Way (GKGW) programs through a pastor friend after we discovered we were expecting our first child, and our son was one month old when we began using Preparation for Parenting. This was the first book we had ever read about baby care that seemed to come from a decidedly Christian perspective, with scripture all over the place, and it pointed out that basically all the typical feeding, baby care, and parenting information being taught today
    Read More
  • Open Letter about Failure to Thrive +

    The purpose of this letter is to generate public awareness about yet another child who has surely suffered due to following a Christian parenting program entitled Preparation for Parent-ing/Preparation for the Toddler Years (secular versions marketed in stores as On Becoming BabyWise 1 & 2) by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo . We hope that knowledge of his case can be used to promote existing and future efforts to inform communities of the extremely serious dangers associated with following the Ezzos' program, even in its newest editions [1998 at the time
    Read More
  • Confessions of a Failed Babywiser +

    This essay is written both as catharsis and restitution. I regret that I encouraged many parents to use the Ezzo materials and feel compelled to warn against it. I also want to share how level-headed parents can be allured by this program. There are many other resources online that outline the medical, Biblical and character problems associated with Gary Ezzo and his parenting programs. With this, I hope to offer a personal view of how these materials can negatively effect a family. I cradled my six month old son in
    Read More
  • Failed Babywiser - Russian Version +

    Confessions of a Failed Babywiser - Russian Translation
    Read More
  • An Ex-Contact Mom Speaks Out +

    While I was a contact mom for GFI (for a year and a half), I never once met a mom who breastfed long-term (at least a year or longer) without modifying the materials. I did see babies who appeared listless and in a depressed state, who were smaller than average or scrawny. I met scores of moms who struggled with milk supply to a point that it completely removed the enjoyment of nursing their babies. I met babies who went one or two months without gaining any weight at all
    Read More
  • Thoughts from a Former Contact Mom +

    I used Ezzo stuff because it really fit my personality. I'm very structured and don't handle lots of chaos very well. I started with Preparation for Parenting when my youngest was a newborn. He is 12-1/2 now. My other kids are 11, 8, 5, and 7 months. I was also a "contact mom" for GFI for several years. We used Preparation for the Toddler Years (back before it was even an "official" program), and GKGW, also. We read through Reflections of Moral Innocence and ended up not using that. Having
    Read More
  • Former GFI Leadership Couple, Eric and Julie Abel +

    The Abels helped found GFI and were featured on GKGW curriculum video tapes resigned over ethical concerns. Here they share their thoughts on how some aspects of the GKGW principles were detrimental to their family.   This is the Internet archive of that FAQ
    Read More
  • A Group of Case Studies +

    This group of case histories was compiled by Laurie Moody, an ex-contact mom with GFI. Unlike most contact moms, this one was a certified lactation counselor. http://www.angelfire.com/md2/moodyfamily/casestudies.html
    Read More
  • More Stories from around the Web +

    7/20/1997 Link to post "...the church's youth pastor invited me into his office and told me about the Ezzo's programs and how important they were to effective Christian and biblical parenting. ...I took the book right home and read it straight through. I immediately felt immensly guilty that I had been demand-feeding my baby and sat down to scratch out a schedule for him. But even as I was doing it I had a very uneasy feeling in my gut, so I prayed and asked God for wisdom regarding accepting
    Read More
  • Babywise Stole Precious Weeks +

    BabyWise stole many precious weeks from me in the beginning of my son's life. I wish I could have just loved on him without all the fear that Ezzo put into me about creating a spoiled baby. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I sought the advice out of women that I knew and respected who had children. My own mom died when I was 19, and I felt truly lost as I searched for the "right" way to be a mom. One of the friends
    Read More
  • Ezzo Lived in My Brain +

    I heard a lot about how awesome GKGW and Babywise are so naturally I bought Babywise when I was pregnant with my first. But my baby was teeny (6.5) and jaundiced, so the lactation consultant adamantly emphasized feeding on cue and even suggested co-sleeping.  My husband brought her in our bedroom the first night home from the hospital and said, "we can't just put her away". He can't stand to hear a baby cry. We did not end up actively using Babywise.  Even so, having read the book, Ezzo lived
    Read More
  • Young, Naive, Pregnant with First Child +

    The year was 2008. A young, naive woman is pregnant with her first child. She is unsure, lacks confidence and wants to be certain she does the best job for her unborn child. Yet there are a great deal of books, resources and information - which ones to start with? Which ones to trust? So she turns to older, more experienced mothers who all but thrust this book into her hands and begin making the promises.
    Read More
  • A note of appreciation from an older parent +

    Let me start by saying that 14 or 15 years ago, I was in the unhappy position of having to do everything in my power to force two sets of new parents to drive their babies to the emergency room because, after following the Ezzo’s advice, these babies were severely dehydrated and lethargic.  The parents were not bad parents.  In fact, they were trying really hard to be good parents, according to guidelines which had been sanctioned by their church.  The fact that both contacted me for a home visit,
    Read More
  • Confessions of a Former Babywise Advocate +

    This story comes via the blog "Banned from Baby Showers".   The blog owner shares a mother's account of how she used Babywise successfully -- as far as she knew -- until her baby was 7 months old, and then her milk supply began to peter out.  Confessions of a Former Babywise Advocate
    Read More
  • A Forgiven Mama +

    Our first child was born in the summer of 09, and I promptly began trying to apply the Babywise method. The book had been highly recommended by a distant relative, and promised structure and sanity amidst the exhaustion and upheaval I felt as a new mother. However, our baby did not respond the way the book promised he would if we followed the schedule. All my attempts to adhere to the book led to deep frustration, arguments with my husband (who knew better than to let a book dictate our newborn's schedule), feeling like a
    Read More
  • 1