The Chatsworth, California-based organization Growing Families International (GFI) claims that more than 3,500 churches worldwide use GFI-published resources for guidance on child rearing. But despite such apparent popularity, the list of critics of GFI—and of its executive director, Gary Ezzo—continues to expand.
More than four years ago, CHRISTIANITY TODAY reported on questions being raised about the parenting advice offered in Preparation for Parenting, coauthored by Ezzo and his wife, Anne Marie, and On Becoming BABYWISE, a secularized version containing the same concepts but without religious references (CT, Aug. 16, 1993, p. 34.)
At that time, Ezzo served on the staff at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Recently, however, the church's board of elders issued a public statement disavowing any affiliation with GFI and outlining "serious concerns" about the organization and its teachings, as well as concerns about accountability.
UNCONVENTIONAL MEDICAL WISDOM: Critics maintain generally that the Ezzos advocate a style of parenting that overemphasizes control and discipline at the expense of parental intuition and compassion. They say the medical advice offered or implied by GFI materials runs counter to current medical wisdom.
In a Web site, the Ezzos have claimed GFI is supported by "a network of health care professionals" that includes "hundreds of pediatricians." GFI has not documented the claim.
Says Kathy Nesper, president of the Artesia, California-based Apple Tree Family Ministries, "I don't know who their doctors are, but I'm not aware of a single International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who has publicly supported their program."
Calls from pediatricians and emergency-room ...1