The Growing Kids God's Way and Babywise programs developed by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo were used to undergird Assembly teaching on children. The Ezzos were in the past deeply involved in John MacArthur's Grace Community Church and in fact Gary was an elder. At some point, the elder board became alarmed about the content of their program and issued a public statement distancing the church from the Ezzo's teaching. Grace Church now has a website devoted to the problems with the Ezzo program.
Prior to the Ezzos the Assembly used a similar program, What the Bible Says about Child Training by Richard and Virginia Fugate. The Fugate method is subject to many of the same criticisms as the Ezzo approach. Here are some readers comments from Amazon.com on the Fugate book:
Lisa Manske said, "Too many people think parents have to be authoritarian or permissive, that there's no other way. There IS another way--it's to treat our children the way God treats us--with love, guidance, teaching, gentleness, and grace. We are to treat others the way we want to be treated....Three MUCH better books to read are Biblical Parenting by Crystal Lutton, The Discipline Book by Sears, and Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel."
Christy said, "I noticed that a lot of the people who buy this book also bought Tedd Tripp's excellent book Shepherding a Child's Heart. Make no mistake, these two books are not even close to saying the same things. Where Tedd Tripp tries to show that the heart directs behavior and encourages parents to get on the same level with their children to try to help them return to the circle of blessing, Fugate comes from a very behavioristic mindset. Fugate is promoting a controlling approach to child rearing and he does not back it up very well with scripture. Tell me where, for I did not see it in his book, the Bible says we are to control our children. There is nothing at all in the book about cultivating a relationship with your child. You can force most children to do the things that you want them to, i.e. control, but rules and regulations without relationship = rebellion. Your children may look good on the outside but they will be nothing but, as Christ says, whitewashed tombs. Please stay clear of this book."
"Joyful Reader" said, "Mr. Fugate has done a service in his interpretation of scripture on parental responsibility and spanking. As a theology major, I agree with his exposition of these subjects. However, I don't believe his book is comprehensive in detailing "how to train a child" as the title suggests....
A majority of the book deals with illuminating the verses that discuss negative reinforcement, especially regarding children under 12. It was difficult, after reading it, not to feel more focused on negative reinforcement. God's repeated example to us is to first inspire right behavior (for example, He tells us the blessings and promises associated with right action). He is clear about the consequences, but does not use negative consequences as a first resort to motivate us. I felt this book lacked in teaching some of the more positive things to do to cause your child to go in the correct path, and dealt more with the subject of addressing behavior that has already gone too far.
I strongly disagree with his statement that due to a lack of vocabulary, concentration, and willingness to learn most "teaching" doesn't occur until the "youth" stage (12 years old), and before that, we must mostly rely on "controlling" and "telling" what to do. The Bible never says anyone is too young to learn, that I could find. Teaching before 12 is just done differently- little children rely more on imitation and example than logic and purely verbal or mental approaches, so child training must reflect this. But you won't learn such techniques from this book.
I must also add that Mr. Fugate calls for "controlling" your child a lot. When I searched the Bible for the word "control", it appeared only a few times in the NKJ version, and mostly in "self-control". Never in regards to children. So, as with most books, this one contains some personal opinion. I think we are to be in control of the situation, rather than trying to control the child. Think of it - when was the last time God "controlled" you? More likely He allowed you to suffer consequences or miss out on blessings if you refused His will, which helped you see the error of your ways so that you learned to desire obedience in the future.
In summary, focusing on negatives in my household always seems to attract more negatives. I needed to read 2 or 3 books that focused on positive ways to help your child develop to get back my parental balance after reading this one. I enjoyed a lot of the positive techniques in "You are Your Child's First Teacher" by Rahima Baldwin Dancy..."
Here are a few other suggestions. Effective. Practical. Parenting is a website that offers a practical alternative. The Assemblyboard thread, "What role should shame play in raising kids?", begun by Brian Tucker, also has good perspectives by former Assembly members. The Internet Monk has several posts on parenting:
• Seven Observations for Parents
• How Religious Parents Royally Screw Up Their Children
• Quitting Soccer: Thoughts from Mom and Dad
• Finding Our New Seats at the Ball Game - a baseball parable for parents of young adults
• A Prayer for Alex: What to do when your child says he doesn't believe anymore.