Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo

How To Raise Your Kids God's Way

Audio Cassette Series

Taped in 1987 at a Grace Community Church multi-week, parenting class in Sun Valley, California (the same church pastored, then and now, by John MacArthur). (This series has since been revised and re-taped under the new title of Growing Kids God's Way, and now is available with an optional 338-page manual [4th edition:1993].) There are twenty tapes in this set. In the introductory tape, Ezzo cautions the class about psychologists who take a godless principle, dress it up in divine language, and then pass it off as Biblical. Despite this warning, Ezzo follows this exact same practice throughout the series. Ezzo seems to go from the psychological principle, to the "compatible" Biblical verse, to the practical application. And even when the practical application is correct (and there are a number of these instances), it is often painted with the principles of Adlerean/Maslowian need psychology (the school of thought used by Larry Crabb), Bruce Narramore's self-love theory, and Freud's theory of psychic determinism (including the "unconscious," ventilation therapy, etc.).

Tape #1: "For the Scriptures Save"

-  Ezzo spends considerable time discussing the value and technique of "apologizing." But to apologize is the world's way. In contrast, confessing and asking forgiveness is the Bible's way. (Lest one might think that this is nitpicking, for the significance of this distinction see pp. 63-65 of From Forgiven to Forgiving by Jay Adams.)

-  Ezzo tells the story (evidently borrowed from John MacArthur's story on the 1985 video series, How to Raise Your Family) of a father who required his son to spank him (the father) with a paddle! The father apparently felt guilty about having raised his son using an improper philosophy of discipline, and thereby, saw the solution (i.e., the "need") as one of letting the son 'take-it-out on dad.' (Supposedly, seeking forgiveness would have been too simplistic a solution?) This is merely a slightly modified form of Freudian ventilation therapy, most recently popularized by Arthur Janoff and brought into the church by James Dobson, Frank Minirth & Paul Meier, David Seamands, et al. (One wonders what Ezzo would counsel the father to do if the son learned to zealously enjoy meeting this new-found "need" of the father?)

Tape #2: "Prelude to Parenting"

-  Here Ezzo fully develops his model of "need theology" as it relates to parent-child relationships. (About a year after this series was produced, Ezzo wrote an article for Masterpiece magazine (the house organ, at the time, for John MacArthur's ministry) that could almost pass as a word-for-word transcript of the dialogue on this tape ("Restoring Your Family's Focus," Masterpiece, Winter 1988). This "need theology" model is virtually identical to that presented by clinical psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb in his counseling model -- only some of the concept titles have been changed. Ezzo changes Crabb's unconscious "need for security" to "need to be loved/internal need to know I belong" (the "identification factor"), and Crabb's unconscious "need for significance" to "need to know where one fits" (the "socialization factor"), as well as adding a third need of children -- the "need to know that mom and dad love each other." Ezzo claims that God created children with these three basic/primary needs, but gives no Scriptural support (which is probably due to the fact that there is none!). (And why wouldn't the commandment to obey and honor parents be one of the three "primary" needs of children?) Rather than accepting the Biblical precept that a child is personally responsible for his bad behavior (e.g., Ezekiel 18:4,14-20), Ezzo teaches that a child's bad behavior is usually caused by the parent's failure to meet the child's need for security. [Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs that supposedly motivate human behavior, which system is derived from Freudian and Adlerean/Maslowian psychology with its hierarchy of needs, with greatest emphasis on so-called emotional needs.]

-  Ezzo states that the need to know where one belongs (the "socialization" factor) is "the most critical factor" in child development -- "The root of all parental rejection and teenage rebellion begins when this need is not met." (The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that the sin of rebellion is "inherited" as part of the sinful nature.)

-  Ezzo teaches that the father needs to know when to "rescue" the wife from her role of mother, back to that of wife, because it's "unhealthy" for her to be getting all of her "gratification and self-worth from her children." In such cases, says Ezzo, the husband is not being "completed," which is then "the cause of him going elsewhere for that completion." (Again, see Ezekiel 18 for God's view of personal responsibility versus Ezzo's view.)

-  Ezzo implies that he holds some mystical, analytical power that us mere mortals don't possess. He tells the story of his being able to tell that a 2-1/2 year old girl was insecure by merely looking into her eyes -- "she wasn't having her [internal emotional] needs of identification and socialization satisfied."

Tape #3: "The Development of Me -- Pt. 1"

-  Ezzo uses less Scripture in this and the next message than in any of the other messages in the series. This is no doubt accounted for by the fact that these two messages are heavy-laden in Freudian and Adlerean/Maslowian psychological concepts (e.g., the "unconscious," psychic determinism, repression, and need satisfaction).

-  Ezzo teaches the Freudian concept that "Many of us unconsciously suppress or distort the personality development of our children ... usually the result of how we were parented. How we were parented causes certain 'blind spots' and causes us to parent through those 'blind spots' with our children.. Many times it results from us experiencing emotional neglect in childhood."

Tape #4: "The Development of Me -- Pt. 2"

-  Ezzo espouses the psychological theory of the development of the conscience (passed-off as a Biblical model of course) -- "assertive" conscience (I do something because it is right or I don't do something because it is wrong) versus "prohibitive" conscience (I do something because I fear the penalty or consequences of doing wrong or not doing right). Ezzo contends that prohibitive conscience development will leave "lasting scars" (on the Freudian unconscious, evidently), "which affects your entire life."

-  Ezzo implies that an adult with a prohibitive conscience is not responsible for the way he or she parents his own children because his or her conscience was fully developed by his parents before he was five years old (clearly a Freudian concept that has no Biblical counterpart; in fact, the Bible teaches exactly the opposite concerning individual responsibility). (Ezzo also spends considerable time developing the psychological concept of "parent types" -- manipulative, martyr, etc.)

-  Ezzo's adherence to Freud's concept of psychic determinism, as well as to Crabb's need theology, can be clearly seen by the following statement:

"The only way I know that a person can rescue themselves from the guilt feelings that haunt us, the fear of rejection, is to understand the unconditional love of Christ ... 'My mother manipulated me because she had a need and no one took the time to take care of her need ... maybe her mother manipulated her. ... The need to know where I belong has to be satisfied.'" (Unconditional love is not a Biblical concept -- see Brownback, The Danger of Self-Love, pp. 109-116, and Bobgan, Prophets of PsychoHeresy II, pp. 91-96 (reissued as James Dobson's Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology), for a proper, Biblical analysis of so-called unconditional love and acceptance.)

Tape #5: "Character Development/Self-Worth -- Pt. 1"

-  This and the next two messages are classics in religious humanism. Ezzo states right up front that the subject is "moral development;" i.e., the development of "self-worth and self-esteem into your children from a Biblical perspective" (i.e., religious humanism). (He also covers the so-called "six pillars of character development," which was also covered in the 1985 video series alluded to in the comments on Tape #1.) The clear teaching throughout these three tapes is obvious -- sound moral development comes through the proper instilling of self-worth and self-esteem into your children!: "We now have probably the most insecure generation in our nation's history, because security, confidence, and true self-worth is tied to proper moral character development." This is a "cause and effect relationship." (The California Commission on Self-Esteem couldn't have said it better!)

-  Ezzo teaches us what "we know about self-worth" (evidently from Ezzo's psychology textbook; certainly not from the Bible):

-  "Every human being has inherent self-worth, but most never realize it. The question then is how do we confirm true self-worth, both in our children and in ourselves?"

-  "There is nothing wrong with a child having a healthy sense of self-worth; there's nothing wrong with a child feeling good about himself. There's nothing wrong with a child having confidence in himself. ... We want these things for our children. We want them to feel good about themselves."

Here Ezzo's religious humanism comes through loud and clear: "The wrongness of the self-esteem movement that is in our contemporary society is not the desired end product, but rather the pathway parents choose to get their children there." (Religious humanists/self-love proponents, James Dobson and Charles Swindoll, couldn't have said it better!)

For Ezzo, the wrong "pathway" is external positive reinforcement (showering kids with praise), while the right "pathway" is teaching kids to place value on others. This, of course, is psychological double-talk. Ezzo is saying that feeling good about oneself/having a high self-esteem is a desired goal (exactly what the world teaches), that only needs to be approached in a proper/"Biblical" manner. The right "pathway" to this worthy goal becomes my recognition of your intrinsic self-worth and value. And if I don't recognize your value, then I obviously don't have any value either. This double-talk allows Ezzo to say that true self-worth is not selfish or self-centered at all, but is actually rooted in one's heartfelt attitude of other-centeredness! -- a nice bit of mental gymnastics if you can sell it.

-  What does the Bible teach us about self-worth/self-esteem? According to Ezzo:

"The Bible confirms that we all have inherent self-worth ... The Bible says man has value (because he's created in God's image -- Gen. 1:27) ... We know this speaks to man's value (Psa. 139:13,14 says we're wonderfully made, and therefore, we have value) ... Christ's death on the cross points to our redeemable natures ... It [Rom. 12:3] doesn't say 'don't think highly of yourself,' only not too highly ... Recognize the value of yourself, but don't go beyond that point ... The Bible says, 'Look, you have value, just don't esteem yourself higher.' ... [Phil.2:3] proves that esteeming others develops self-worth." [See BDM report for an analysis of these verses used by Ezzo.]

Tape #6: "Character Development/Self-Worth -- Pt. 2"

-  Ezzo believes that children develop their concept of God and His character from the way they view their parents: "What are some of the consequences when parents fail to put a premium on teaching the importance of respecting authority? -- children develop a warped sense of awe and respect for who God is and His authority over us. Young children can only measure God's justice, God's fairness, God's love, and God's authority by what is demonstrated by the parents; and dads get this, especially by you! ... A child's perception of who God is wrapped-up in how they see mommy and daddy. 'God is only as fair as daddy is fair.'" (This teaching is not derived from the Bible, but from Freudian psychology!)

-  Ezzo teaches that the primary goal/end product of your parenting is to win your child's friendship! -- "This should be the relationship goal each parent strives for -- having a deep-seated friendship with your children." (I always thought the end goal was to be the glorification of God?)

-  Ezzo teaches that once a child passes from one stage of maturity to another (Ezzo establishes four age-stages of character development), without being properly schooled/trained in the previous stage, 'the ball game is over,' so to speak -- "you can't go back and retrain." Ezzo appears to allow no place for prayer and the supernatural work of God in changing a child's heart (i.e., the cross of Christ), but instead places all the burden on one's human parents.

Tape #7: "Character Development/Self-Worth -- Pt. 3"

-  Back to his religious humanism teachings, Ezzo says that there is "one relationship we have neglected to stress thus far -- 'respect for self' -- placing value on self." Ezzo then goes back to his concept (from Pt. 1) that the way to obtain self-worth is to value others highly; this same old double-talk that says 'I have value because I value you.':

"It produces in the child's perception a world of 'value reality' which is then fed back to the child through that socialization process of 'social reality integration'; thus, true self-worth is actually achieved in your child. ... I'm not giving you anything new."

-  Ezzo claims that "Jesus taught this same principle of obtaining self-worth by first valuing others -- 'In order for a man to gain his life, he must first lose it.' And I think we can add to this context safely: 'In order to gain value of self you must first place value on others.' ... When I respect authority [parents, elders, peers, etc.] something happens to me ... I feel good about myself; I really do ... Why do I feel so good about myself? Here's the key: Because the inner person will confirm what the outer person is doing ... This takes us right back to the development of the conscience. Do you really want your children to feel good about themselves?" And here is Ezzo's underlying philosophy: "Then what you are going to have to do is to build their character and teach them to place value on those outside of self so they can have a frame of reference of understanding what true human value is all about. That's how Biblical self-worth is developed in your children!"

Tape #8: "What is Obedience?/The Appeal Process"

Nothing new on this tape that wasn't already developed in earlier tapes.

Tape #9: "The Biblical Mandate for Chastisement"

-  In discussing the subject of when spanking is actually child abuse, Ezzo places his faith in the unsubstantiated psychological theory of psychic determinism: "Anger and hostility are communicated towards the child by both actions and attitudes. It is the actions and the attitudes of uncontrolled emotions that are communicated from one generation to a second generation. That's why it is very common to find that the parent who is abusive was a child who was abused. The uncontrolled emotions is passed on from generation to generation."

-  In describing the violent stimulations that children are subjected to, Ezzo cites erroneous research concerning the supposed receipt of "subliminal" messages from music: "The direct subliminal message of suicide fantasy accounts for the dramatic rise of suicide among our children between 15 and 19 years old." (This position should not surprise us when one considers that it is derived from Freud's discredited theory of the unconscious, to which Ezzo is an adherent.) To the contrary, the scientific research has shown that "subliminals" have zero effect on behavior. Moreover, no place in Scripture supports such an idea. In fact, the Bible is consciously and volitionally oriented (not unconsciously and passively oriented).

Tape #10: "The Rod of Reproof/What Do I Do After I Spank?/Repentance"

-  In the message on repentance, Ezzo goes back to the world's practice of "apology" versus the Biblical practice of asking forgiveness.

-  Touches again on the Freudian concept of "suppressed guilt" -- Ezzo reports that Sweden's high suicide rate is due to suppressed guilt caused by that country's "no spank" policy. (With all the variances and covariances present in such a study, who knows what causes what?)

Tape #11: "Choosing Appropriate Methods of Discipline"

-  Ezzo heavily emphasizes "reinforcement training"; it becomes very difficult to distinguish what portion is neutral and what portion comes from behavioristic psychology -- there is almost a "Pavlov's dog" mentality in Ezzo's presentation.

-  To support reinforcement training, Ezzo sites a host of statistics that are not only unverifiable, but they purport to measure things that are virtually unmeasurable; e.g., "In 1985, 85% of all children under two years old threw a temper tantrum."

-  Ezzo again focuses on the Freudian concept that "suppressed guilt" will occur if bad behavior is not corrected early.

-  Ezzo attempts to distinguish between a child's "frustration tantrum" and a "temper tantrum" --  this appears to be a totally false distinction, giving the child the opportunity to claim frustration when he throws a tantrum. Ezzo states: "Don't even think about spanking a child having a frustration tantrum, but offer to help the child. ... The frustration tantrum is different from the temper tantrum. The frustration tantrum did not come as much from the act of rebellion as it does from the inability in motor skills to accomplish the task they're trying to do." Based upon Ezzo's own standards for reinforcement training, this would appear to "reinforce" the "true" frustration tantrum in the same way that not spanking would reinforce the "true" temper tantrum?

Tape #12: "Teenage Rebellion/Family Identity"

-  Ezzo asks: "What are some of the needs in your child's life? -- if these needs aren't met, what is the end product?" Teenage rebellion, according to Ezzo: "Much of what we see today as teenage rebellion results from the parent's failure to meet a fundamental emotional need in the child's life. This need is called the "identification factor" -- "the child's internal longing or need to know he belongs. ... This need [impulse] to know [in your child] keeps shouting out -- 'I need to know I'm loved by you; I need to know I belong!'" (This "deep need inside to know I belong" is found nowhere in the Bible, but can be found in any basic psychology textbook and in the writings of men such as Adler, Maslow, and Larry Crabb.)

-  Ezzo makes the distinction between "interdependent" families versus "independent" families. In the context of discussing interdependent families, Ezzo speaks of "the sociological process of association," and that we as parents "have a need to learn from [our] children"; again, two concepts not derived from the Bible. Ezzo's basis for child training focuses on sociological and psychological theory, rather than on what the Bible says. The question for Ezzo is not 'Have we caused our children to be grounded in the Word?' but "Have we cultivated in his heart a sense of [interdependent] family?"

-  Ezzo defines "identification" as "basic social needs" -- "If this need for identification is not met by the parents in the formative years (birth to 12 years old), the child will begin to drift about from social group to social group until this need is fulfilled ... I cannot emphasize this enough!" This implies that if parents fail here in an area of "need satisfaction," then all is lost. But what about the child's responsibility before God for "identification" as a child of God, in God's family unit?

-  Rather than grounding the child in the Word of God as being all sufficient and all important for the establishment of a firm foundation for the child to withstand the temptations of the world (Ezzo defines temptation as "peer pressure"), Ezzo emphasizes that the key is the satisfaction of the sociological need for identification.

-  Ezzo discusses the rebellion issue -- "rebellion and parental rejection become part of the child's expression of group identity -- did you get that? ... Whenever you see a teenager in rebellion, don't feel contempt, but compassion, because what you're seeing is a young man searching for identity." This implies that rebellion is not the child's fault, i.e., not his responsibility, but the parent's fault, because the parent did not meet the child's "deep emotional need for identity." [This sounds like Don Matzat's  teachings.]

-  Ezzo even contradicts his own theory of the "need for sociological identity" when he brings up a possible objection -- 'God is perfect and yet His two kids (Adam & Eve) rebelled.' But one could ask, 'If I, less than perfect, am responsible for my kid's rebellion, why wasn't God responsible for His kids' rebellion?' Obviously, the issue is not, as Ezzo teaches, whether children have had their need for identity satisfied (Adam & Eve's so-called need for identity was certainly satisfied -- God walked in the Garden with them!), but the issue is one of faith and obedience, and individual responsibility for disobedience. If the identity-need theory doesn't hold true for Adam and Eve, raised in a perfect environment with a perfect Father, then it certainly can't hold for us! Nevertheless, Ezzo continues to follow the non-Biblical model.

-  Ezzo apparently believes that environment and peer pressure account for social and individual evil -- "What we see in our society today is the result of group association!" (I thought it was the result of unsaved men acting out their sinful natures in obedience to the god of this world?)

Tape #13: "A Father's Mandate"

-  Ezzo again reviews the "identification factor" and the "socialization factor" in the development of children. (See notes to tape #2.)

-  Ezzo adds that "trust" is the bridge between "identification" and "socialization," and only through this "trust" will your children accept your faith system. This is an Arminian definition of trust that has no Biblical support. One must ask Ezzo: 'Do we trust God because of who He is, or should we instead focus on meeting our "needs"?'

-  Ezzo gets into Dobson's concept of "building memories" -- time spent with your kids tells them, "I'm worth something. ... You need to cultivate that sense/attitude of family identity -- our kids are proud of who they are -- Ezzos! ... And dads, you have to develop that attitude." (What about being a part of God's family for identity?)

-  Ezzo gets into the "inner child" teaching popularized today in Christendom by such men as Charles Stanley, H. Norman Wright, Chuck Swindoll, etc. Each man has a little boy in his heart that "wants to get out and play. ... Wives need to respect this in their husbands -- that's their private world. [Likewise] inside of that woman you know is a little girl that's longing to get out ... and play ... Our children need to see our little girl and little boys get out and play."

-  "Fathers, the greatest need your children can have is to be touched by you -- physically. ... We need that physical contact. ... That hugging can fulfill an emotional need in their lives."

-  Ezzo doesn't get to the point of building a father-child relationship on God's Word until the very end of his list of "how-to's" -- he then states, "After all, fathers, your child's eternal destiny is in your hands." (Again, an Arminian concept that has no Biblical support.)

Tape #14: "Mealtime Behavior"

-  In discussing the standards that parents should set for mealtime behavior, Ezzo again gets into the unproven theory of "subliminal messages": "You're sending your child a subliminal message -- a message not of rules, but of standards. ... It's all in the subliminal message being sent your children, building up that entire respect for character you want to see ... It's again a subliminal message of respect [to let your elders go through the buffet line first] -- understanding the value of who they are ..."

Tape #15: "The Proper Use of Rewards"

No specific comments.

Tape #16: "Money Management Training"

Practical money management training techniques -- no psychological statements made.

Tape #17: "Parental Purity"

-  Ezzo makes a statement that has no scientific basis whatsoever -- the following theory of sexual maladjustment sounds like Freud, not the Bible: 

"Let me go on to this conclusion ... Teaching your children the importance of modesty, purity, and respect for their bodies have long-term effects on their social development. It also plays a vital role in their perception of self-worth. How willing a teenager, male or female, is to becoming sexually active is directly related to his own perception of self-worth. [Sounds like Ezzo has bought-into the Dobson' lie that poor self-esteem/self-worth is the cause of all social ills.] ... Children who are exposed to nudity early, whether it be mom or dad's nakedness or their own self-exposures, struggle with sexual maladjustment problems as they grow older. ... Do not steal or cheapen your child's sense of worth by playing down the importance of Biblical purity."

Tape #18: "Financial Stewardship" (Wayne Foslesons)

-  Foslesons adheres to the myth of "Christian America" -- the myth that America is a Christian country, founded by Christian men, who wrote documents with a Christian foundation. Foslesons even believes that God influenced (i.e., "providentially caused") America's founding fathers to place "In God We Trust" on the coinage. (But strange, isn't it, that God somehow forgot to "providentially cause" His Name or the Name of His Son to appear in the founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States?)

-  Quotes favorably from Dobson's Focus on the Family magazine.

Tape #19: "Questions & Answers" (Amy & Jenny Ezzo)

-  Amy Ezzo (18 years old at the time) claims to have once gone through a period where she had lost her "self-confidence" because her dad (Gary Ezzo) was out of town, and there was, therefore, no one around to make her "feel special."

Tape #20: "The Four Educational Systems" (Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo)

-  Gary Ezzo, in discussing the types of educational systems available and the general value of learning and knowledge, makes the following statement: 

"Now, not all knowledge is about God, we know that; but all knowledge is from God!" This sounds much like the "All truth is God's truth" heresy, which allows psychological "truths" to assume equal footing with God's all-sufficient Scriptures.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 7/98