Babywise, our teacher told us, was what Bill Gothard required her to teach. As a practicing midwife she had serious reservations about doing so. She had made an appeal to Mr. Gothard to stop recommending it but he refused. She told us she would teach it out of honor for authority but with her own caveats.
It was the first time I had ever heard anyone stand up against Mr. Gothard’s teachings. You must understand, he taught that to disobey or speak against someone in authority, even if they were wrong or doing evil was a sin, an all-hell-will-break-loose sort of sin. This was a big deal.
Most of our instructor’s midwifery clients were in the Advanced Training Institute (Bill Gothard’s homeschooling program) and she had seen a rash of failure to thrive babies in her practice. She said that the unfortunate reality of having so many babies so close together and homeschooling too was that mom’s just did not have time to care for their infants. She saw baby care being delegated to siblings. She saw baby’s “trained” to sit in isolation most of the day.
Impassioned she taught us how to “cure” a baby who was growing slowly. She said: “Go get a sling, tie the baby to mommy, skin to skin when possible, and tell her to feed on cue twenty-four-seven. Tell them, I don’t care what “that book” or Bill Gothard says, put it out of mind, your baby’s life and well-being depend on it.”
Last night when I pulled Gary Ezzo’s book Babywise off the shelf these memories came to me instantly. It gives me a shiver of “You Go Girl!” delight to remember the stand she took, jeopardizing her whole ministry and livelihood. It is such an inspiration!
My family joined Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute in the late ’80’s. In the mid ’90’s I participated in their Midwifery Training Institute. It was an exciting thing for me even though midwifery was not really my thing. I got to travel to other states and have girlfriends for the first time since we joined ATI. (It was a revelation to me that my friends actually had social networks with parties and sleep overs.)
One of the Basic Life Principles taught at MTI was Mr. Gothard’s Principle of Design. The expanded concept goes like this: everything has a created purpose, when you use things in line with that purpose they work optimally. Not too outrageous really. However, Bill Gothard promoted Babywise because it made having a large closely spaced family more achievable. Since large families were God’s plan, so was Babywise! He argued circularly from his own teachings not from the witness of creation as the Principle of Design calls for. Even a basic knowledge of the female body reveals a design for closeness between mother and baby .
My brave, passionate teacher’s plea against the teachings of Babywise is a moment I look back on as when I began to question the world view I had embraced. Bill Gothard’s clearly illogical application of his own teachings and lack of concern for the harm it caused was, I would like to say, a resounding wake up call. It was more like a pebble hitting a fortress wall but importantly, it was a pebble I heard.