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Having survived nearly a decade of controversy surrounding his childcare advice, self-proclaimed parenting expert Gary Ezzo has nearly lost his publisher. Multnomah, the Christian publisher that created the surprise bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez, told Ezzo, coauthor of On Becoming Babywise, it wanted to sever relations, only to reverse that decision. In the aftermath, Ezzo's editor resigned.

In February, Multnomah commissioned editor Jeff Gerke to investigate long-standing allegations by parents, physicians, and church leaders that the book's advice to parents puts infants at risk of poor development. Gerke, who joined Multnomah's staff after Babywise had been published, edited several of Ezzo's other parenting books. Gerke concluded that Ezzo's materials were dangerous, based on his interviews with former Ezzo employees and medical professionals.

Gerke shared his information with Multnomah executives, who began to sever ties with Ezzo. The company's attorneys said that Multnomah was in a position to pull away because of the medical and character issues in question. According to an e-mail written by Gerke, the attorneys also identified a clause in Multnomah's contract with Ezzo that would have allowed the company to sever ties without being in breach of contract.

Multnomah Vice President Kyle Cummings reportedly telephoned a stunned Ezzo to tell the author of the company's decision. But Don Jacobson, Multnomah president, personally intervened shortly afterward to stop the contract cancellation. Within days, Gerke resigned his position.

Unanswered Questions

A central element of Ezzo's plan in Babywise is feeding newborns on a firm schedule, controlled by parents, rather than "on-demand," whenever a newborn seems hungry. Ezzo ...

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In the Magazine

July 8, 2001

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