(Not Actually) Quickly!

Earlier, Soren wanted bubbles, so I made a batch of bubbles. “I bow bubble!” He said. Then he blew his first successful bubble.

Our church teaches from Baby Wise. Let me say that again: OUR CHURCH TEACHES FROM BABY WISE. Zzzt. That last part was my brain dying.

I was literally shaking with rage when I heard. Also, the part where the (very nice) man teaching the baby dedication class told the parents of newborns (one of whom had been in the NICU for a week and had just gotten breastfeeding back on track!) that they should be sleeping through the night by 10 weeks. SHOULD. OUGHT. YOU HAVE FAILED IF YOUR BABY IS ACTING LIKE A NORMAL BABY IN A FEW MORE WEEKS, YOU FAILEY FAILURES. My, ah, distaste was not well shielded from the speaker (though I was practicing a great deal of restraint, let me say), so he noted it, and I couldn’t even form coherent sentences about how horrible the news was. The majority of my response was all but wailing “No! No, no, no, no, no!” when he said that a big part of the curriculum comes from Ezzo. After he spent the entire class talking about how raising kids is all about relationship and communicating with your kids. Apparently, it’s not necessary to learn how to communicate with your child until they are sleeping through the night by force. One of the other fathers in the class said that he’d be interested in hearing why I dislike it, and I still couldn’t even communicate with him. Louis and I both gave him the address of ezzo.info and let him know that Ezzo’s own adult children won’t speak to him. I mean, honestly, Real Life. How can this possibly be a good idea?

Ahem. I was angry. I’m already working on my letter to the church’s family ministries pastor (I spent a large part of last night composing it, actually). Also, I am now quite sleepy due to staying up all night angry. ANGRY.

About lindswing

Once upon a time, I was born, grew up a little bit, did some stuff, and now I have a blog. I deeply respect the Oxford comma.
This entry was posted in awful, baby, babywise, boo, epic fail, parenting, rant, religion, sad, soren, toddler. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to (Not Actually) Quickly!

  1. auntlouise says:

    There is obviously a lot I don’t know about, but I’ve heard you complain about this church before. I can’t help but wonder why you keep going back.

  2. Gayla says:

    Lindsey, I am hoping that your input will prevent this horrible teaching from ever being taught in your church. May whoever reads your letter have ears to hear.

  3. Morielle says:

    that is horrific.

  4. Derek says:

    Hello Lindsey,

    Whenever you post something about some parenting method that you are adamantly opposed to it piques my interest and I want to find out what all the fuss is about. I figure that there’s no way you can be so violently opposed to something unless there’s unequivocal empirical evidence that such and such method negatively affects a baby/infant/child in comparison to some other method.

    When I go looking for the scientific research I usually end up with a non-original summary of other research (which is often merely more summarizes of other research), mixed with a fair dose of interpretation and vague generalizations.

    A case in point is Tyler’s “How Ezzo’s Child-Rearing Philosophy Impacts
Psychosocial and Physical Development” from the ezzo.info site. While reading through the article I came across the following line:

    “The result of parent non-responsiveness are babies who no
    long make eye contact with their parents and act fearful rather
    than trusting in their presence (Auerbach, 1998).”

    I think, “Oh cool, some empirical research from a team of disinterested expert scientists. I’ll stop reading the summary/interpretation and just read the empirical findings themselves.” I track the source down, which was Auerbach’s “Scheduled feedings . . . Is this “God’s order”. It turns out Auerbach’s article is just another summary of yet other research (none of which is Auerbach’s), and the line that Tyler actually references is from Auerbach’s own personal experience:

    “The babies of the pregnant couples who look to you
    for guidance may be negatively affected if you take the
    “ostrich approach” to this difficult situation. Ignoring
    the recommendations to new parents for highly
    structured, restricted parenting will not make this
    orientation go away. Most troubling to me are the
    observed responses of babies who no longer make eye
    contact with their parents and who act fearful rather than
    trusting when in their presence. Such reactions remind
    me of the psychological failure to thrive that was
    documented when studies of infant neglect and abuse
    were first reported in the 1970s.” (p. 3)

    However interesting Auerbach’s observation is, it’s merely anecdotal, even if it’s coming from a scientist who’s talking about things within her own area of expertise. And being anecdotal, it’s equally refuted by a pro-Ezzo person who’s been around just as many children and makes the opposite observation.

    But I have no doubt that underneath the labyrinth of summary, commentary, and interpretation, there’s solid scientific (empirical) research whose findings show—unequivocally— that Ezzo’s and other’s methods negatively affect the development/well being of a baby/infant/child, especially in comparison to other methods that you might advocate. Could you point me to just a few of them? I think I have time to carefully read five or so (after all, this is no small matter!), but I’d be happy with even one or two, at least for the time being.

    I only ask because it hasn’t been uncommon that my attempt to find the research on my own has lead me on a wild goose chase not unlike the one mentioned above.

  5. Louis says:

    Try these:

    P. Heron, “Non-Reactive Cosleeping and Child Behavior: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep All Night, Every Night,” Master’s thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Bristol, 1994.
    M R Rao, et al; Long Term Cognitive Development in Children with Prolonged Crying, National Institutes of Health, Archives of Disease in Childhood 2004; 89:989-992.
    J pediatrics 1988 Brazy, J E. Mar 112 (3): 457-61. Duke University
    Ludington-Hoe SM, Case Western U, Neonatal Network 2002 Mar; 21(2): 29-36
    Butler, S R, et al. Maternal Behavior as a Regulator of Polyamine Biosynthesis in Brain and Heart of Developing Rat Pups. Science 1978, 199:445-447.
    Perry, B. (1997), “Incubated in Terror: Neurodevelopmental Factors in the Cycle of Violence,” Children in a Violent Society, Guilford Press, New York.
    Schore, A.N. (1996), “The Experience-Dependent Maturation of a Regulatory System in the Orbital Prefrontal Cortex and the Origen of Developmental Psychopathology,” Development and Psychopathology 8: 59 – 87.
    Karr-Morse, R, Wiley, M. Interview With Dr. Allan Schore, Ghosts From the Nursery, 1997, pg 200.
    Kuhn, C M, et al. Selective Depression of Serum Growth Hormone During Maternal Deprivation in Rat Pups. Science 1978, 201:1035-1036.
    Hollenbeck, A R, et al. Children with Serious Illness: Behavioral Correlates of Separation and Solution. Child Psychiatry and Human Development 1980, 11:3-11.
    Coe, C L, et al. Endocrine and Immune Responses to Separation and Maternal Loss in Non-Human Primates. The Psychology of Attachment and Separation, ed. M Reite and T Fields, 1985. Pg. 163-199. New York: Academic Press.
    Rosenblum and Moltz, The Mother-Infant Interaction as a Regulator of Infant Physiology and Behavior. In Symbiosis in Parent-Offspring Interactions, New York: Plenum, 1983.
    Hofer, M and H. Shair, Control of Sleep-Wake States in the Infant Rat by Features of the Mother-Infant Relationship. Developmental Psychobiology, 1982, 15:229-243.
    Wolke, D, et al, Persistent Infant Crying and Hyperactivity Problems in Middle Childhood, Pediatrics, 2002; 109:1054-1060.
    Stifter and Spinrad, The Effect of Excessive Crying on the Development of Emotion Regulation, Infancy, 2002; 3(2), 133-152.
    Ahnert L, et al, Transition to Child Care: Associations with Infant-mother Attachment, Infant Negative Emotion, and Cortisol Elevations, Child Development, 2004, May-June; 75(3):649-650.
    Kaufman J, Charney D. Effects of Early Stress on Brain Structure and Function: Implications for Understanding the Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Depression, Developmental Psychopathology, 2001 Summer; 13(3):451-471.
    Teicher MH et al, The Neurobiological Consequences of Early Stress and Childhood Maltreatment, Neuroscience Biobehavior Review 2003, Jan-Mar; 27(1-2):33-44.
    Leiberman, A. F., & Zeanah, H., Disorders of Attachment in Infancy, Infant Psychiatry 1995, 4:571-587.

  6. Louis says:

    If none of those do it for you let me know more specifically what it is exactly you’re looking for and I will try to hunt it down. I’m not super clear about which issue you are looking for a study on.

  7. Louis says:

    Sorry, I know the question was for Lindsey, but I wanted to jump into the fray since I know she’s super busy.

    Linds, feel free to add your own thoughts.

    Also, Derek, I’m wondering what difference you think it might make if you can’t find the exact type of study you’re looking for? The Babywise material blatantly violates widely accepted, widely supported developmental principles, and it’s fairly easy to demonstrate such. Like, have you run into any well-done studies in support of any of the fundamental principles undergirding the Babywise material?

  8. Derek says:

    Hello Louis,

    Yikes! Thanks for all the sources.

    I started reading Perry’s “Incubated terror…” (it had the sexiest title) and I came across this gem:

    “It is not the finger pulling the trigger that kills; it is not the penis that rapes — it is the brain.” (p. 4 of the .doc version)

    And the closing part of the article would even make Lenin’s (should be) rotting corpse weep:

    “We need to change our childrearing practices, we need to change the malignant and destructive view that children are the property of their biological parents. Human beings evolved not as individuals, but as communities. Despite Western conceptualizations, the smallest functional biological unit of humankind is not the individual. It is the clan. No individual, no single parent-child dyad, no nuclear family could survive alone. We survived and evolved as clans — interdependent — socially, emotionally and biologically. Children belong to the community, they are entrusted to parents.” (p.12)

    But, I did catch a frog in my throat (perhaps because I felt understood) when I came across this line:

    “These individuals carry their scars in other ways, usually in a profound emptiness, or in emotionally destructive relationships, moving through life disconnected from others and robbed of some of their humanity.” (p. 6)

    Anyway, I wasn’t sure what part of the Ezzo method Perry’s research (or summary of research) was supposed to be testing, and then I came across this, from Dr. Sears:

    “Dr. Bruce Perry’s research at Baylor University may explain this finding. He found when chronic stress over-stimulates an infant’s brain stem (the part of the brain that controls adrenaline release), and the portions of the brain that thrive on physical and emotional input are neglected (such as when a baby is repeatedly left to cry alone), the child will grow up with an over-active adrenaline system. Such a child will display increased aggression, impulsivity, and violence later in life because the brainstem floods the body with adrenaline and other stress hormones at inappropriate and frequent times. 6” (http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/handout2.asp)

    And the ‘6’ footnotes Perry’s article. However, in Perry’s article there’s *nowhere* to be found any mention of leaving babies to cry alone (whether “repeatedly” (whatever *that* is supposed to mean), or otherwise), and in the section (Traumatic Violence: … pp. 8-9) that Sears seems to be referencing (it’d be nice if he used page numbers), the context concerns “children” who have been subject to “persisting trauma (e.g., domestic violence, physical abuse, community violence” (Figure 6, p. 19). I suppose one would like to include Ezzo’s methods as an instance of one of these, but Perry *clearly* does not have Ezzo’s methods in mind (they most certainly were not the subject of his research), and for Sears to assume that Perry’s research is wholly and unequivocally applicable here begs the very question at hand. (It’s important to keep in mind that no pro-Ezzo person thinks that neglect is *ever* justified (I hope!): the debate between the pro-Ezzo and her detractor is a de facto debate and not a de jure one.)

    But, there’s 18 more to read (and I’m sure plenty more), so I will amblingly trudge along.
    ______________

    “If none of those do it for you let me know more specifically what it is exactly you’re looking for and I will try to hunt it down. I’m not super clear about which issue you are looking for a study on.”

    Your list seems like it was just what I was looking for! I’ll let you know for sure when I get through more than a few of them.

    ______________

    “Also, Derek, I’m wondering what difference you think it might make if you can’t find the exact type of study you’re looking for?”

    Here’s the nub for me. If there’s no empirical research that shows *unequivocally* that implementing X’s methods negatively affect the development of a baby/infant/child, it seems to me that a few things follow:

    (1) Anyone who holds that (T) “X’s methods negatively affect the development of a baby/infant/child” is arguing so on the basis of moral intuition and anecdotal evidence (at the very best, or so it seems to me at any rate). Hence, one who finds himself in this situation *ought* to have an attitude of negative tolerance (i.e., something like the “different strokes for different folks” mentality) towards a person or community that practice X’s methods.

    (2) Anyone who holds that ~(T) “X’s methods do not negatively affect the development of a baby/infant/child” on the basis of moral intuition and anecdotal evidence is: (a) Within her epistemic rights to believe ~(T); and (b) Morally justified in practicing X’s methods.

    ______________

    “The Babywise material blatantly violates widely accepted, widely supported developmental principles, and it’s fairly easy to demonstrate such.”

    By “Developmental principles” do you mean the most popular normative theories concerning human development? If so, and it’s the case that such theories are unequivocally supported by the facts (empirical data), then I think Babywise has a lot to answer for (assuming it does violate it). But the question as to whether or not Babywise does violate them turns on the empirical data itself, which is the very thing I’m asking about.

    “Like, have you run into any well-done studies in support of any of the fundamental principles undergirding the Babywise material?”

    No, I have not. The claim I’m (tentatively) defending is NOT: “X’s method is supported by the best empirical research in such a way that any and all non-X methods are wrong and everyone should follow X’s methods.” Such a claim would need a lot of evidence that Babywise doesn’t seem to have.

    The claim I’m making is much a more modest one: namely that if one holds ~(T) under the condition that there’s little to no empirical evidence for (T), and ~(T) is consistent with her moral intuition and her anecdotal evidence, then one is within her epistemic rights. And this claim seems justified even if there’s no “fundamental principles under girding” X’s methods.

  9. Alyssa says:

    Oh lindsay.
    I too, though not reprimanding you for it, am wondering why you are still attending to said church, as the only good thing I have heard you say is they have a good nursery. That being said, I believe you and yours to he highly intelligent people and I know there has to be more to it than just that. My point: I don’t doubt you.
    But….
    I am happy to hear your writing a letter. Very happy! Obviously you are ment to be a spokesperson against such heresy as you are so often thrown into the (same) trenchs.

  10. Gayla says:

    Hi Derek,

    A Mother’s intuition is a powerful thing.

  11. Derek says:

    Hello Gayla,

    “A mother’s intuition is a powerful thing.”

    I have no reason to argue against that claim. But whether or not a mother’s intuition is infallible is whole other beast.

    Furthermore, the people whom Lindsey will probably have to deal with at this church are going to include both men who have no mother’s intuition, infallible or otherwise, and perhaps even Babywise mothers whose “mothers’ intuition” provide them with convictions that contradict Lindsey’s.

    The only way, it seems to me, to adjudicate the debate, will be the empirical facts. Only the empirical facts have the power to correct faulty intuitions and corroborate the correct ones.

    Furthermore, in the absence of the empirical facts that show why Babywise is destructive, I don’t see why a Babywise mother’s intuition is any less legitimate than yours or Lindsey’s (for example). And if one is no more legitimate than the next, I don’t know why the Babywise mother *must* jettison her own and adopt yours or Lindsey’s intuitions any more than you and Lindsey *should* jettison your own intuitions and adopt hers.

  12. Louis says:

    Hi Derek, I feel like I owe your previous comment the type of treatment that will take me a while to get around to giving you, and I have the intention of doing so eventually. I know this is Lindsey’s post and you addressed her, but you snagged me too! I have to say in the meantime that your vulnerability is touching and I can tell you are working very hard to approach the matter in as unbiased and scientific a fashion as possible. Which is standard from you, and always admirable.

    Anyway I wanted to ask about this:

    “The only way, it seems to me, to adjudicate the debate, will be the empirical facts.”

    I am hearing your rationale for thinking this way as something like: other moms might report intuitions that line up with Babywise, and such would counter-balance Lindsey’s contrary intuitions such that the only thing we have left are empirical data. I sympathize with that, though I wonder if there isn’t at least one other way we could approach the matter. Could it possibly be the case that a properly functioning mother’s intuitions will warn her against Babywise-type methods, and that any mothers reporting differently are ignorant to their own intuitions, self-deceived, or flat-out lying about them? If that were the case, could some progress be made by talking and living in ways that conjure to the surface, or reveal to other moms their extant intuitions?

    Personally, I am optimistic about it being the case that human mothers have strong intuitions to respond to their babies’ cries faster and more frequently than Ezzo’s strict schedule, and to feed their babies when cued by their biological drives, on timetables significantly different and more variable than Ezzo’s dogma demands. The Babywise schedule is one-size-fits-all, while milk capacities in human breasts differ by as much as 300%, and other factors vary widely from mother-baby pair to mother-baby pair and from context to context as well—in fact Ezzo instructs mothers not to feed their hungry babies even after spitting up! Most cry-it-out mothers report it being extremely emotionally difficult to let their babies do so, but comment about how important it is to ignore their intuitions based on the empirical data (which have been grossly misrepresented to them via very manipulative rhetoric, by a man without a medical background, whose grown children no longer speak to him, whose church excommunicated him, and whose methods have been condemned by the American Association of Pediatrics, The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County, and many, many other bodies).

    It is SO HARD to listen to your baby cry. It put me in tears so many times with my first and the second time around was easier because I knew the benefits, but I still had my days of tears. And you know what? It really wasn’t easy for me the third time, either. My third child only had a couple of naps where she cried herself to sleep, but it still was very hard for me.

    -Cry-it-Out Bootcamp

    I don’t expect this to be anything close to what you’re looking for in terms of empirical data, and again, I plan to get to all that down the line. I appreciate your attitude and your patience in all this, and I hope you can in turn appreciate the idea that, though the empirical data might be helpful, it might be the case that intuitions may play a legitimate role as well.

  13. Louis says:

    For more testimonies about how difficult it is to Babywise (from moms who do so), check out this page from that site.

    Most of the comments that describe how counter-intuitive it is describe why. Here are two I just copied while skimming (there are plenty):

    Last night he would cry for 1 1/2 hours-full on screams-choking and gagging himself on the saliva he was creating, it was very hard. After about 1 1/2 hours of this he would abruptly stop. My husband and I smiled and sighed a breath of relief. But then 15 minutes later he woke up again and cried for another 1 1/2 + hours and then went back to sleep for another 30 minutes. Again, he woke back up and cried for over 1 1/2 hours.At 7am which has been the first of the day feeding/wake up time, I got him out of his bassinet still screaming. All of us only got a total of 3 hours of sleep.

    My little one cried until 5:30am this morning. I finished my post and went in to him. He wasn’t sleeping though. Just staring eyes wide open. I had to watch very carefully to make sure he was still breathing.

    I also saw this I wanted to snip:

    I have read your blog for months and tried both CIO and regulated CIO (intervals of going to console). I had been going crazy for months and I even diagnosed reflux in my son. His Pediatric GI doc ordered a UGI as a routine screening to confirm reflux and rule out other problems. It turns out that what they wanted to rule out was what he had: Intestinal Matlrotation. It’s a birth defect (my OB/GYN said that even after screening, 10% of children are born with birth defects, Malrotation is in 1 of 500 births).SOOOOOO… he had laproscopic surgery 2 weeks ago and he is MUCH improved now, 1 week from hospital release also. It has been scary, but I wanted to post that I, as his mommy, was SURE there was something that was off. I kept at it and continued to search. This was truly random luck that we found his malrotation. Most babies vomit green or yellow bile and that is the obvious sign, but I caught my son’s malrotation before he got to that point. But his constant anguish led me to search.I will stop here and thank you for your support of CIO strategies. I will tell you that CIO didn’t work for my son and now I know why. If you have other questions, please write me. I am thankful to have answers and I’m sure other mommies are out there worrying over their babies.Sleep strategies work great but sometimes, there are other reasons. Please trust your instinct.

  14. auntlouise says:

    I have been following this conversation w/growing fascination and interest. I’m not sure there is (or can be) empirical data showing that one method of parenting is superior in raising happy, sociable, etc. children. We know more about child development than we did even thirty years ago, and opinions and interpretations of that data abound in myriad ways. Much depends on the parents’ own values and views of child rearing; that is one way people choose a parenting method. Some people don’t consciously choos a “method,” they just muddle along.

    Also, much depends on each parent-child interaction, socio-economic status, etc. And, as my intuitive but I-never-took-a-parenting-class mother said, “Every child is different and what worked for one, may or may not work for the next one.”

    I’m also fascinated by the responses to your blog, Lindsey. I think we are all so ego-involved in this issue that we all want to say our piece. Derek, do have children yet?

  15. lindswing says:

    Sorry I haven’t been responding to you all, and thanks Louis for doing so.

    The Babywise/Veterans’ Day problem isn’t so much a church problem as a North Idaho problem. We keep going to our church despite disagreeing with some things because we agree with less at other churches here. We LOVE our home group through the church. The church does a million good things in our community. Like, a trillion million. Any church we choose will have something we dislike about it, and in this area, almost certainly something that absolutely infuriates us. Churches are staffed with humans who have ideas and preferences and cultural ideals. Sometimes, they’re significant enough that I think they’re worth trying to change, such as here. Rarely, they’re worth leaving over, and I don’t think that’s the case here.

    I know it’s a small point, Derek, but I want to clarify that all of those parenting methods I’m opposed to are Babywise. There is only one parenting method that I think should be wiped from the face of the planet (with the exception, obviously, of blatant abuse- I’m pretty sure everyone’s opposed to outright abuse, at least on paper…or when we aren’t talking about prisoners of war, oh SNAP). I may occasionally bemoan the lack of support and education that Americans receive about breastfeeding and other child-related topics, but it’s not the same as my utter condemnation of Babywise and its author.

    I’m not sure how it is with philosophy, but psychology journals are rarely freely published and are incredibly expensive to access (and you may recall that I work half-time for free for a school district in an unbelievably conservative state that just decided that giving laptops to 14 year olds is a better idea than putting that money toward properly trained human beings who don’t give those 14 year olds access to porn). Most of the principles to which I’m referring are widely taught in Psych 101 and Developmental Psych classes, though I haven’t read many of the original journal articles, I admit. Perhaps a Psych textbook would be a good resource? Books by Dr. Sears might also contain useful information. Sorry I’m not more use here.

  16. Derek says:

    Hello Louis,

    “Could it possibly be the case that a properly functioning mother’s intuitions will warn her against Babywise-type methods, and that any mothers reporting differently are ignorant to their own intuitions, self-deceived, or flat-out lying about them?”

    Yes, that’s certainly possible. But just to be clear, this wouldn’t be a counter example to what I’ve already said. I said that in the absence unequivocal empirical evidence, and assuming that X’s methods are consistent with one’s moral intuition and anecdotal evidence, then one is (a) within her epistemic rights to believe ~(T) and (b) she is morally justified in practicing X’s methods. So, if in fact X’s methods substantially (let’s say) contradict one’s moral intuitions, then and (a) and (b) will not be true for her.

    But I am going to quibble about the concept of “proper-functioning” and “intuition” here (I need to, since they’re doing a lot of work for you). Let’s go with intuition first. I take it that the mental act of having an intuition, as well as the intuitiveness of the judgment that the intuition delivers, are incorrigible for the person having the intuition. Suppose that I have the intuition that all primes are odd. Since I’m the one having the intuition, I can’t be wrong that (a) I’m having the intuition and (b) the judgment “all primes are odd” is intuitive. What I can be wrong about, however, is the judgment itself. That is, even if it’s intuitive to me that “all primes are odd”, whether the judgment itself is true or not is an entirely different topic. In sum: what one finds intuitive can be wrong, but whether one finds a judgment intuitive or not is *not* something she can be wrong about.

    Put like this, the following is incoherent:

    “Could it possibly be the case that a properly functioning mother’s intuitions will warn her against Babywise-type methods, and that any mothers reporting differently are ignorant to their own intuitions, self-deceived, or flat-out lying about them?”

    Since, on my *intuitive* =) view, that one cannot be wrong about what she finds intuitive, it’s simply incoherent that “mothers … are ignorant of their own intuitions” or “self-deceived… about them”. Such mothers, of course, could know the truth, and thereby be self-deceived about it (perhaps by their very intuitions), or definitely lie about them, but they can never be self-deceived or ignorant about what they find to be intuitive.

    Having said this, though, I should point out that it’s not uncommon that one’s intuitions don’t function properly and thereby a rift is created between what one finds intuitive and what one *ought* or *should* find intuitive. I’m sure there have been plenty of mothers who have thrown their babies into dumpsters for reasons they might have found very intuitive at the time. We can all agree that even if such reasons were intuitive to them, their intuition was not functioning properly. And this brings me to “proper functioning”.

    Let’s go back to your original comment:

    “Could it possibly be the case that a properly functioning mother’s intuitions will warn her against Babywise-type methods…”

    And my answer is still “yes”, this is entirely possible. But, as I just tried to show, intuitions themselves and/or the judgments one might find intuitive may not be tracking the truth. That is, it’s possible that one’s intuition is not functioning properly. And if it’s possible that one’s intuition is not functioning properly, then trying to determine whether a certain intuition is tracking the truth (i.e., that it’s functioning properly) cannot be decided by an appeal to the intuition itself. Consider again the mother who throws her child in the dumpster:

    Judge: “Why did you throw your baby in the dumpster?”

    Mother: “I knew I wouldn’t be able to take care of him and, as a mother, I intuitively knew that he would be better off dead than alive. Some might say that being alive is always better than being dead, but whoever said such nonsense has never been a mother. Any mother in my position, a mother who saw the horrendous life he would have lived, had I not put him out of his imminent misery, would have done the very same thing I did—at least if she’s a mother who listens to her intuition.”

    Judge: “But why did you leave him to die—to basically starve to death or die of dehydration? Why didn’t you kill him so that he could have avoided a miserable life and a miserable death?”

    Mother: “I know it’s horrible, but what was I supposed to do—strangle him or throw a rock on his head? How could a mother do such a thing to her own baby?”

    Obviously such a mother had her mother’s intuitions all right, but we should all agree that her mother’s intuition wasn’t functioning properly: it wasn’t delivering her veridical intuitions. And so, I’ll say it again: whether one’s intuition are functioning properly cannot be decided by the intuitions themselves, lest we conclude that this mother was right for listening to her mother’s intuition.

    Now, generally speaking, I think it’s the case that a mother’s intuition is reliable. I have no qualms with that claim. But to say that each and every intuition that a mother might have is reliable—viz., that a mother’s intuition is *always* functioning properly—elevates a mother’s intuition to the status of infallibility, and that surely doesn’t follow from its “for the most part” reliability. (I also think that one would be hard pressed to show from the point of view of evolutionary psychology that a mother’s intuition is infallible. The mechanisms that brought about *all* of our faculties are concerned exclusively with bare physical survival, and nothing more. The need for bare physical survival would bring about, and very well explains, the general reliability of a mother’s intuition. But the thought that a mother’s intuition is infallible or something near enough, given our best “scientific principles”, is utterly inexplicable.)

    Well, if a mother’s intuition is not infallible, how do we know when it’s reliable? Well that’s easy: in *most* cases, if a mother doesn’t listen to her intuition, the baby winds up dead or obviously harmed. That’s how we know that it’s *generally* reliable.

    Well, what if the mother doesn’t listen to her intuition and the baby doesn’t wind up dead or obviously harmed? How do we know that a mother’s intuition was reliable in such a case? Well, we don’t. Unless, of course, the mother herself observes various adverse changes in the baby that she can, in a perfectly justifiable (albeit post hoc fashion), attribute to her failing to listen to her intuition.

    Or, if the scientists can come back and tell us that a mother’s failure (or even lack thereof!?) to listen to some of her intuitions has negative (or positive!?) developmental consequences.

    All this to say: If (in fact) a babywise mother fails to listen to some of her intuitions, and the baby does not wind up dead or obviously harmed, and she doesn’t observe any adverse effects because it, and none of the scientists tell us that not listening to some of her intuitions will lead to adverse consequences, then it’s at least an open question whether she’s doing something wrong.

    Or so it seems to me at any rate. Do you agree with me here, or no? And if not, why not?

    But this is all assuming that babywise requires mothers to systematically ignore some of their intuitions, as the cases you mention suggest. But before we go there I have some questions and comments:
    _______________________________________

    “The Babywise schedule is one-size-fits-all, while milk capacities in human breasts differ by as much as 300%, and other factors vary widely from mother-baby pair to mother-baby pair and from context to context as well—in fact Ezzo instructs mothers not to feed their hungry babies even after spitting up!”

    I don’t know about the spitting up part, but this seems like a failure of the method’s inattention to detail and variation, but not a failure of the method per se or on principle. Suppose Ezzo got his act together and developed a matrix that incorporated all of the relevant factors. If he were to do so, would it be so fundamentally different that it would not longer be Ezzo’s method, but say, Dr. Sears’ instead?

    “Most cry-it-out mothers report it being extremely emotionally difficult to let their babies do so, but comment about how important it is to ignore their intuitions based on the empirical data (which have been grossly misrepresented to them via very manipulative rhetoric.”

    Concerning the bit about ignoring intuitions, see above. Concerning the misrepresentation of the empirical data: I think there’s a distinction between X’s method itself and the justification (empirical or otherwise) of the method. The claim I’m (tentatively) defending (until you or Lindsey point out my barbarism) isn’t that everyone ought to follow X’s methods, but rather (a) and (b) and the bold-faced section above. Even if there were no empirical evidence in favor or the normativity (not a word, but it *should* be) of X’s methods, nothing about the negation of (a) and (b) and the bold-faced section above would follow.

    “by a man without a medical background,”

    Troubling, but ultimately inconsequential in itself.

    “whose grown children no longer speak to him.”

    Really Louis? It should go without saying: Also irrelevant, unless his kids don’t speak to him because his methods damaged them, or something of the like. Also, anecdotal.

    “whose church excommunicated him”

    He is (was) Catholic? And he was “excommunicated” for the methods themselves and not his personal moral character?

    “and whose methods have been condemned by the American Association of Pediatrics, The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County, and many, many other bodies).”

    Right. This is the empirical question again, and I’m working on reading through this stuff.

    _______________________________________

    So back to whether babywise requires its mothers to wholly ignore and abandon their intuition and the cases your brought up:

    Concerning the second case (the really dramatic one) that began with “Last night…”

    A CIO “sage” on that page responded to this and told her (twice) that her baby is not ready yet, which seems to suggest that this was abnormal or uncharacteristic and *not* demanded by the method.

    Reading through here though did make me wonder though: what in the hell are these people doing this for? I suppose they’re going through the trouble for some perceived good, right? I mean, why else would you let your baby cry?

    Assuming that they have their reasons and the reasons might be good in themselves, here’s some questions I’m going to be thinking about:

    Even if a mother has a prima facie duty to take her motherly intuitions seriously, can this duty:

    (a) Conflict with her other duties? If so, should the mother’s intuition always trump the conflicting one?

    For example: Suppose an infant’s leg gets crushed in an earthquake and they need to amputate his leg without anesthesia. The kid is in excruciating pain and utterly hysterical. I take it that his mother’s intuition would say: “Save your baby! He needs you—you’re abandoning him and you need to pick him up and hold him right now.” But, she ignores her intuition; she knows that if she indulges it, her baby will die.

    It seems to me in this case, the mother’s duty to do what’s best for her daughter conflicted with her duty to indulge her mother’s intuition. And clearly the reasonable thing for her to do was to let the later duty trump the former and thereby *ignore* her mother’s intuitions. We should go further: it would have been utterly corrupt of her to *not* ignore her mother’s intuition.

    (b) Could there be such thing as prima facie mother’s intuition and yet a ultima facie intuition that undercuts the prima facie one? The example I just used might be a case of this, though I doubt it, because that would require that a “mother’s intuition” is not distinct from her moral intuition generally. What I mean by prima facie mother’s intuition that conflicts with her ultima facie mother’s intuition is this. Suppose a babywise mother who’s practicing CIO or something of the sort has this prima facie motherly intuition: “your baby is crying and he needs you. Pick him up.” But, on reflection she has the following ultima facie motherly intuition: “We’re doing CIO for some good, and that good would ultimately be better for us as a whole family, and thereby better for baby herself. We can’t obtain this good without CIO, so this good trumps my prima facie intuition to pick up my baby right now.”

    How plausible is this?

    If it’s at all plausible, here’s the (tentative) claim I’d like to make:

    In the absence of unequivocal empirical evidence to the contrary, a mother who fails to listen to some of her prima facie intuitions for the sake of her ultima facie motherly intuition (and so doing does not kill or obviously harm the baby, and she does not observe any adverse effects because if it) and believes ~(T) “X’s methods do not negatively affect the development of a baby/infant/child” on the basis of moral intuition and anecdotal evidence, is: (a) Within her epistemic rights to believe ~(T); and (b) Morally justified in practicing X’s methods.

    I know it’s unwieldy, but so is life.

    Thanks, Louis, for being so patient with me.

    _______________________________________

    Hello Aunt Louise (if you don’t mind me),

    “I’m not sure there is (or can be) empirical data showing that one method of parenting is superior in raising happy, sociable, etc. children.”

    I myself don’t know if there is—that’s why I got this train wreck going in the first place. =)

    But, I am very open to the very possibility of it— both that there *can* be empirical data for this kind of thing, and that there is some of it floating around somewhere just as a matter of fact.

    What makes you think that it might not even be possible?

    “We know more about child development than we did even thirty years ago, and opinions and interpretations of that data abound in myriad ways. Much depends on the parents’ own values and views of child rearing; that is one way people choose a parenting method.”

    By “values” I think you mean the “Dick and Jane let their child stay up after until after 10 at night, but Kim and Richard think that’s a bad idea” type values, as opposed to the “Dick and Jane abuse their child, but Kim and Richard think that’s a bad idea” type values, right?

    If so, then this is my sneaking hunch, too. But sneaking hunches never satisfy me, so that’s why I thought I’d ask the professional psychologist with the kid and the convictions.

    It seems that Lindsey and Louis disagree with you. They seem to think that parents who practice Ezzo’s methods are more like the Dick and Jane in the second case—that practicing Babywise is tantamount to child abuse. I take it that this is why Lindsey wants it to be wiped from the face of the earth.

    “Derek, do have children yet?”

    No, perhaps someday? I need a girl first.

    _______________________________________

    Hello Lindsey,

    Thanks for responding to me, and thanks for the pointers!

  17. auntlouise says:

    Derek,
    I have to think about your comments before I give an answer, but it has occurred to me that you (and Louis) are having an awfully lot of fun with this. You are both great intellectuals and love logic.

    And, I thought that you didn’t have children yet; given the amount of interest you’ve shown in the subject (leaving out the having fun part,) you will most likely be a good parent.

  18. auntlouise says:

    One more thing: I did have a kid, but unfortunately, to my eternal sorrow, he died three years ago. And I was a social worker for forty years, working with abused and neglected children in and out of foster care and adoptive homes. Granted, I may not have the credentials that Lindsey does, but I do have experience and some knowledge of this subject (as well as a whole lot of opinions!)

  19. Louis says:

    Louise, we all miss Chris very very deeply.

  20. Derek says:

    Aunt Louise,
    “And, I thought that you didn’t have children yet; given the amount of interest you’ve shown in the subject (leaving out the having fun part,) you will most likely be a good parent.”

    Ahh, that’s really nice of you.

    “One more thing: I did have a kid, but unfortunately, to my eternal sorrow, he died three years ago.”

    That’s really sad, Louise. As some Christian factions might put it, “May Chris’s memory be eternal.”

    “And I was a social worker for forty years, working with abused and neglected children in and out of foster care and adoptive homes. Granted, I may not have the credentials that Lindsey does, but I do have experience and some knowledge of this subject (as well as a whole lot of opinions!)”

    In the original comment that may have prompted this, I wasn’t trying to knock anyone’s qualifications! I was explaining why I was going after Lindsey in particular, and not you or Louis. (In terms of personal experience with children, I’m no doubt the least qualified out of all those who have commented on this post so far. Fortunately for me, I don’t think the points I’m making require any such qualifications.)

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