Timeline Introduction

Introduction: Growing Families International [GFI] has been controversial within the Christian church for a long time. With the publication of Babywise, the Ezzos extended their influence into the secular world.

Purpose: To illustrate that the present-day controversy surrounding Ezzo is the consequence of longstanding patterns of behavior and questionable advice.

Why Read This? To avoid repeating history and to evaluate the Ezzos' suitability to provide guidance in infant care and parenting.

Corrections and additions to the timeline may be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Focus on the Family statement

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thanks for your note, Mr. Rein. In response to your question, we would like to re-state our position on Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo's materials on parenting. The following is the result of an extensive evaluation by our staff.

We are aware that many parents have implemented the Ezzos' materials in their homes with great success. We have heard positive testimony from a number of sources, including members of our own staff, about the many ways in which God has used Growing Families International (GFI) to help young families achieve greater harmony and stability. Dr. Dobson has no reason to doubt that this is true; he is, in fact, pleased to know that so many families have found the Ezzos' materials helpful.

On the other hand, we do have some concerns and reservations about the Ezzos' work, including the updated editions of _Preparation for Parenting_ and _Growing Kids God's Way_. First, it seems to us that their philosophy of childrearing is far too rigid. The very title of program, _Growing Kids God's Way_ has an unnecessarily exclusivistic sound about it, as if there were only one "correct" and godly way to raise children and that all other methods were "unbiblical." In contrast to this, Dr. Dobson believes that there are many different approaches to raising children which are both healthy and consistent with the teaching of Scripture.

Speaking of Scripture, the Ezzo's use of biblical texts is, in our view, a second cause for serious concern. They have, for example, cited Matthew 27:46 -- ". . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" -- in support of their teaching that mothers should refuse to attend to crying infants who have already been fed, changed, and had their basic needs met. "Praise God," writes Mr. Gary Ezzo in _Preparation for Parenting_, "that the Father did not intervene when His son cried out on the cross." We see no way to make such an application of this verse without completely disregarding its original context and purpose.

Also, we are aware that the authors' proposals regarding controlled feeding schedules for infants are highly controversial. Some critics have suggested that they might possibly result in child abuse if applied legalistically, inflexibly, and without regard for circumstance and the special needs of individual children. In fact, our ministry has received numerous letters from parents, pastors, midwives, physicians, and lactation professionals regarding cases of failure-to-thrive in infants subjected to the Ezzos' program. We don't believe their experience should be ignored.

For these reasons we have chosen not to recommend the Ezzos' material to Focus on the Family's constituents. In the final analysis, we would suggest that, if a parent decides to use the GFI curriculum, its principles should be implemented only in conjunction with generous measures of common sense, intuition, and natural parental affection.

We hope these thoughts prove helpful. Thanks again for taking a moment to write.

Grey Gunn
Focus on the Family

Key Documentation

Excommunication Statement

Statement about Ezzo - Materials

Statement about Ezzo - Character

"The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International"
(originally titled "More than a Parenting Ministry")

(orginally titled "A Matter of Bias?")

Unprepared to Teach Parenting?

Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation

Media Alert

Guide to Abbreviations

GFI--Growing Families International, The Ezzos' for-profit company

CRI---Christian Research Institute, a leading Christian cult research and apologetics teaching organization

GCC---Grace Community Church, the large church pastored by Dr. John MacArthur where Ezzo was employed and from which he launched GFI. GFI materials that refer to Ezzo's "10 years as Pastor of Family Ministries in Sun Valley, California " are referring to this experience.

LHEF---Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship, Ezzo's place of worship after leaving GCC, pastored by Ezzo's friend and former GFI staff member Dave Maddox.

CT---Christianity Today, a well-respected monthly news and features magazine

GKGW--"Growing Kids God's Way", the centerpiece of the Ezzos' parenting curriculum, usually studied in weekly classes for 18 weeks.