real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

TulipGirl’s annual Ezzo week begins

TulipGirl is hosting her 6th Annual Ezzo Week on her blog and you won’t want to miss it!  Last year’s “observance” created quite the stir and I am sure this year’s will be just as informative and thought-provoking.



  Anthea wrote @

Er, no thanks. She is doing the very thing she abhors, telling people what to do. I breastfed both our kiddies, on a schedule, for 18 months, in a country where the average is 8 weeks. Bad bad mama, using a schedule. Boo hiss! Perlease.

  Anthea wrote @

PS That was a very grumpy comment from me — I am not cross with you, Karen. You are *lovely*. Somehow you put things with such grace. But don’t show me links to a site unless it’s to your — We’ve got blood pressure problems in our family, you know.

  TulipGirl wrote @

Anthea, am I really telling what other mothers to do?

I’d invite you to read a little through the BW/Ezzo/GKGW archives on my site. It’s not about telling other mothers what to do. . . and it’s not about condemning mothers who schedule. It’s much bigger — looking to the God of a gracious Gospel in our parenting. And I do invite you to browse or join the conversation.

Grace and hope,

  Anthea wrote @

On this blog, mothers are being given a very clear message about what they “should” be doing. Although support is being offered to those who are wanting to share experiences, there is a very strong subtext about what is acceptable and godly mothering.

There is a claim that there are some “moms who want to breastfeed, but can’t because they are taught a routine that is “best” for baby but contradicts they way breastfeeding is designed.” So if you use a routine you will not be able to breastfeed, and you do succeed you are not doing it properly. Bad Mama!

“It’s about parents who want to do the best for their children, but get wrapped up in bondage and lose sight of the Gospel. ” The pressure! You’d better breastfeed properly, or you’ve lost sight of the gospel. Eh? You’re having a larf — Bottle feeding is right up there with idol worship and gnosticism?

Some people do try to programme or channel their children, it’s true, but that’s as much a feature of the big hit TV show ‘Supernanny’ as anything else I have seen, and hardly anyone complains about the rampant Skinnerism of that programme.

I had enough common sense to pick and choose what I wanted to do from one or two books I consulted. I also asked my mother what she did with me, and used my brains and the two ears and eyes God gave me. The children were carried and cuddled, I did not leave them to cry, I fed them on a schedule, I swaddled them at sleepytime, I used washable nappies and they are expected to behave themselves and do what they are told since “Nobody likes a brat,” and they are going to be around people who don’t think rudeness is cute or experimental, and beside, *I’m* the Mummy.

See? I don’t fit into those neat little”Bad Mama/Good Mama” boxes that the blog sets up.

Someone recommended Ezzo’s books when our son was about a year old. I read one and just thought it was a bit too much like a school textbook. There was no personality coming through in the prose, so the advice seemed disconnected from the author somehow. The advice seemed to be for a perfect world, so I discounted it. If people get caught up in a fad for something, it’s a bit daft — but we are all daft sometimes. (You know what they say about common sense – it ain’t too common.)

Critiquing an author is one thing, but using it as a peg on which to hang another, equally rigid, view of child rearing is another kind of daftness. You cannot decide for someone else that yours is the only loving Christlike way to mother, any more than Dr Spock or Penelope Leach can. So I will spend the week feeding our family, rather than reading about WWJD about co-sleeping. (I don’t — they come to our bed on a rainy afternoon for a story. As a privilege. Occasionally. And then they out. Bad Mama!)

  TulipGirl wrote @

I really appreciate your feedback, Anthea. . . It helps me see where I’m stumbling in my communication. Ideas I thought were clear, obviously aren’t.

The “tone” and heart of what is intended isn’t making the translation.

Obviously, I want to go back and revisit my words. . .consider better communication.

But until then. . . I do want to reassure you that I am not in the least thinking of “Good Mama!” or “Bad Mama!” terms. In fact, I’m really troubled that it is perceived that way. Blame and condemnation have no part in what I want to share.

And just one small point of clarification (though you have, legitimately, brought up several.)

““It’s about parents who want to do the best for their children, but get wrapped up in bondage and lose sight of the Gospel. ” The pressure! You’d better breastfeed properly, or you’ve lost sight of the gospel. Eh? You’re having a larf — Bottle feeding is right up there with idol worship and gnosticism?”

I want to state clearly that I do NOT in anyway elevate breastfeeding to the level of the Gospel. The Ezzo parenting ideas, as a whole, taught within the Christian context in which they originated, do lose sight of the Gospel. What they teach (in their church-oriented materials) is very disheartening. If you’d like more clarification, I’d recommend starting here:

Grace and hope,

  thatmom wrote @

anthea, I wanted to clarify why I wanted to link to TB’s critique of the Ezzo teachings and the resources she offers regarding them.

I do not have a problem with scheduling our children. I would say that all of my own babies were on a schedule of sorts, though I allowed it to be child-directed. There was just a natural flow to our day and I tried to be sure they had healthy snacks, naps, play times, etc. regularly. Even though my first three were bottle fed and the last three were breastfed, they all fell into their own schedules and routines. And even the bottle fed babies were basically fed on demand. I never was too hung up on number of ounces they drank, etc. I also never hesitated to feed and cuddle them in the night. Babies have needs and they express that fact to us through crying and letting us know it!

I would guess that most families also fall into a natural routine and schedule without any book telling them how to do it. And I would also guess that most moms, left to their own instincts and the wise advice of older mamas, meet the needs of their children without feeling manipulated etc. Even Scripture paints just such a picture, as it does for fathers whom it is assumed will give their children good gifts and not a stone instead of bread!

My issues with the Ezzo teachings involve both their misuse of Scripture and their manipulation of it in order to place families into a paradigm they have designed and have used to make lots of money. There is nothing wrong with making money, but they have done so by teaching bad theology which promotes unhealthy parenting. And sometimes that theology has led to death of infants.

To me, it is very similar to the patriarchy movement and my reasons for encouraging people to examine the Ezzo teachings is the same as why I encourage moms to thoroughly examine the patriocentrists teachings’….both promote a paradigm that is the antithesis of relationship parenting, which ought to be organic by nature. While many who hold to the patriocentristic mindset do not agree with Ezzo, they seem to not recognize that their own parenting and marriage relationship ideals are very similar…they are contrived, defy the natural God-given desires for nurturing, can be dangerous, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, and are used by charlatans to bilk innocent and well-meaning parents out of their money.

Because moms care so much and love so intensely. I think we often lack discernment when it comes to these sorts of things. When any of these groups start blending their version of the Gospel with their own preferences for parenting, the marriage relationship, etc, they have perverted the Gospel and we need to be aware.

I hope that helps explain where I am coming from!

  Anthea wrote @

Thanks, Karen. Well and wisely put, as usual. I admit that I reacted to (struck out at?) the ‘welcome mat’ laid out by the blog. I have very little knowledge of the Ezzos’ teachings beyond the one book that I perused. They are not well-known here, even among Christians. We mostly hear about James Dobson or Anne Atkins (she’s English and very funny).

I find the most pernicious thing about mothering in the new bright shiny culture is that it was assumed that my mother/tradition was the *last* place I should turn for advice. Women are left alone, even if they are not without extended family, because we are subtly told to ignore our elders.

This fits into your discussion on Mr Obama’s healthcare ideas. The good news about our National Health Service is that women are visited for several weeks by a community midwife or health visitor who can help with all sorts of things. They are also trained to look out for post natal depression. But I totally shocked my HV when I declined the offer of a weaning seminar/clinic to give me tips. “Oh, I can ask my mother what to do.” “Well, it might be good to get some more/new ideas.” “My mother has lots of knowledge about weaning babies and I trust her experience. She helped my sister, too.” The health visitor was dumbstruck. Everybody else had meekly trooped off to be told what to do. Turns out they were telling mums to use yams -trying to be all multicultural, I suppose. Yams are hard as a rock and totally unsuitable for weaning. It’s *eddoes* that you use. So the state can really mess up a lot of people.

You are so right, Karen(“I think we often lack discernment when it comes to these sorts of things. “) We are especially keen to buy a quick fix solution. I am getting concerned about the magic bullet mentality that’s creeping over to our side of the pond. The UK Christian home ed message board is suddenly full of posts about courtship being THE ANSWER for our yoof.

Thank you for refereeing.


  thatmom wrote @

“I find the most pernicious thing about mothering in the new bright shiny culture is that it was assumed that my mother/tradition was the *last* place I should turn for advice.”

Anthea, this is so true! I am amazed at how many wonderful things we can learn simply by listening to moms, grandmas, and great-grandmas!

“The UK Christian home ed message board is suddenly full of posts about courtship being THE ANSWER for our yoof.”

Courtship and, most recently, betrothal, are much discussed on this side of the pond as well, though I don’t know what “yoof” might be. Please explain. It sounds like just the word to use sometimes!

Courtship, as taught by those within the homeschooling world, has as many different definitions as there are families. I am always anxious to hear the stories of Christian couples whom the Lord has brought together, no matter how it was done. But I really have come to be concerned that those who promote the most extreme views on courtship and marriage are those who have no experience in it, yet they tell parents how to do it! It makes me laugh. As a young Italian man once told the Pope regarding birth control, “You don’t playa the game, you don’t maka the rules!”

  kim anderson wrote @

My first five babies were breastfed following The Natural Art of Breastfeeding as my bible. They were totally demand fed and I admit I was offended by the Ezzos when I first heard of them. But God used my sixth baby to humble me. He was demand fed as my others were, but lost weight and didn’t thrive; eventually ending up in the hospital at 5 weeks with a severe case of RSV. We almost lost him. I was following my bible for breastfeeding and didn’t realize my sweet baby was failing. I was so humbled. It was a horrible but growing experience for me. I had to supplement him with formula which was really hard. I also pumped and fed him with a bottle the pumped milk; with God’s help I eventually got him back on the breast exclusively. But I have to tell you, when certain friends stopped by to visit, I felt like I had to hide the bottles!! Strange to think of it now. But my point was that I had a good friend who used the Ezzo method and she helped me to put our baby on a reasonable schedule. I think that was what helped me to get back to total breastfeeding again. And my little one learned to sleep well. He ended up my happiest baby yet. He’s fourteen now! 🙂

My seventh baby also had breastfeeding issues, but I was prepared and caught it before he was failing. He was also fed on a schedule. Totally breastfed and happy. He slept well and was a delightful baby.

I am 50 now and thankful that I had both experiences(demand and schedule feeding) so when my daughters have babies I can be encouraging and helpful whichever method they use. It’s the principle that’s important. Feeding and loving our babies.

My 2 cents. 🙂 Kim

  kim anderson wrote @

another thing…..I have a hunch that my girls will want advice on how to breastfeed on a schedule. They were witnesses to how lovely things were with their baby brothers on a schedule. 🙂

if not, that’s okay, too!

  kim anderson wrote @

Sorry about all the smiley faces….

  TulipGirl » Blog Archive » Others on Ezzo wrote @

[…] ThatMom highlighted Ezzo Week here at TG, and followed up with some interesting conversation in the comments. But what impacted me most was her great thought posted a few days later (which I can’t help but quote in full), “I guess I look at this whole issue in this way…after parenting for 34 years as of yesterday, I have come to realize that all paradigms are basically a list of do’s and don’ts that someone has created. Instead of embracing a list, I have discovered that it is best for me to run all ideas, philosophies, and paradigms through my “one-anothering hopper.” I ask myself if the suggestions or ideas I am hearing will serve to build my relationships or will serve to tear them down; will they reflect the one-anothering commands of Scripture? I ask if they reflect Christ and His relationship with me as His needy daughter. If not, I am not interested, no matter how much appeal they might have for any number of reasons.” –thatmom […]

  Savannah wrote @

I appreciate this discussion; for some reason, I missed it earlier, though I did see the link to tulipgirl’s site (probably much to her chagrin – j/k).

I feel kind of like Anthea described herself in her second comment with regard to this subject (childrearing): “grumpy”.

There’s something that makes me quite grumpy to have a 23-year-old, someone young enough to be my daughter and close in age to my eldest son, tell me that I may have exposed my now-grown-all-completely-healthy sons to some sort of developmental delay by the simple act of putting them in a stroller. No, I didn’t “wear” them (bad mama!) – I didn’t even know of anyone outside of a third world country at that time who “wore” their infants.

Now, I have absolutely no problem with whatever type of conveyance someone may wish to use for their baby, including their own body (that’s not even the point), but I resent someone trying to make others feel stupid or guilty because of them making a different choice, a choice made by many other parents over generations that posed no apparent harm to millions of babies.

I breastfed our boys, but some of my friends couldn’t (for reasons that are now too long ago to remember). I used demand feeding mostly, but we were super-blessed in that our eldest slept through the night at three weeks and the twins did by four weeks – all having inherited their father’s “sleep gene” – through no merit of mine! I would never confuse blessing with merit in this regard :-).

I would tell any future daughter-in-law of mine: research and do what you feel is proper and most healthy (this does not rise to the level of doctrine!). Every baby is so different. Every parent is so different. Trying to make this stuff hard and fast and biblical in the minutia is somehow ridiculous to me.

Ezzo folks don’t have all the answers. AP folks don’t have all of the answers. Heck, my elderly neighbor once told me when I was fretting over some thing or another when my babies were babies, “Honey, when I was having kids, we all smoked like chimneys and had a highball every afternoon, so stop worrying so much!”

LOL. Certainly not advice I would cotton to or dish out, but for heaven’s sake, one of her sons is a physician and the other works for NASA, maybe because of her, maybe despite of her, they did fine.

I certainly don’t have all of the answers. My philosophy was a blend of Titus 2 advice, my own research, and common sense. These days I would probably fall somewhere on the spectrum between mainstream and attachment parenting. I’m sure there were things at the time that I wish I had done differently, although I can’t remember what they are now. The results speak for themselves though, whether because of me, or despite of me – LOL

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