Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gina Ford: Charlaton Child Rearing "Expert", Free Speech Terrorist, Mother Muzzler

What kind of expert demands that critical analysis, discussions or personal opinions of her published theories about child rearing be silenced? A loser who knows she’s about to exposed as a big, stupid fraud. That’s what kind of expert.

According to Gina Ford’s official web site She studied Hotels and Catering in Edinboro. But, then, poof! She became a maternity nurse. For 12 years, she was a maternity nurse. That’s 8 years shy of raising a a child to maturity. Then some rich and famous people thought she did some decent work with their own children. Poof! She is an expert.

Does she have children of her own? No.

Does she have any background in child development or psychology? No.

What does she have? A lot of really bad opinions some publisher thought could make her a lot of money.

Compare her qualifications with those of say...The Sears Family and suddenly you begin to notice some striking lack of qualifications. How many parents do you know who have valid and impressive credentials; have raised children to adulthood; whose children enter the family business -- which is all about advocating the same child-rearing tactics their parents used? That’s a pretty strong testimony as far as I’m concerned.

What has Gina Ford got? Nothing. No names of universities, no personal experience in the field, no published credentials that I could find. And she is an expert that thousands of families are following? (Oh, England. Where is your own inner Lionheart?)

I’m sorry, I do not care one iota for Gina ford. I place her child-rearing tactics about two rungs below those advocated by The Pearls, a couple whose “parenting advice” recently resulted in the death of a child in North Carolina, Sean Paddock. Yes, that’s how I see her. In the most extreme, out-of-control, egomaniacal parent psyche...Step 1 is Gina Ford. When that fails, Step 2, The Pearls. Step 3 are the results you just read about in the article about Sean Paddock. (And isn’t that a nice tidy solution. Because parenthood is stressful, especially when your children just ‘won’t get on with it.’ At least you’ll get lots of pity and pints out of it all. It was all the “experts” fault.)

Okay - so why am I on my high horse about Gina Ford? Because I want all of you to know about her recent antics. And I want all of you to know what kind of a “shamed to be exposed as a fraud and a sham” woman she is. There is a web site I frequent. Mumsnet has been a critical part of my adjustment here to England. And unless the users “refrain from discussing Gina Ford,” She will attempt to shut down the site.

I just happen to have been brought up with the idea that:

1. If your theories are sound, well-researched, and
2. beyond academic scrutiny, and
3. beyond scientific scrutiny, then

what should you be afraid of? A bunch of inexperienced new mommies chatting with other lonly mothers on an internet support forum? That's a bit of an over reaction in my humble opinion. Or is it that a scientist has actually done some serious scholarship refuting her "theories" and she's facing a financial issue because she's been proven wrong? Margot Sunderland, director of education at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London's findings that children should sleep with their parent until age 5... What Sutherland is saying sounds like that Sears Family, doesn't it? You know, the ones with all of the research, experience and medical degrees.

More info from Mumsnet:
Mumsnet And Gina Ford

ITV article

Ms Ford is setting a dangerous precedent. She is asking that a web forum take responsibility for the content posted by its users. In essence, she is demanding that entities who provide “any asshole on the internet “with an opinion be held liable for that individual’s libel. Myspace, Friendster users...are you paying attention?

And that's not even mentioning that she is a sham, a fraud and a charlatan who now thinks she should have the right to silence the very women she is supposedly dedicated to serving.

While I'm at it: Let's all write her publisher demanding that if this terrorist, snake oil peddlar does not cease and desist in harassing Mumsnet, then we'll all have larger issues about the authors they choose to print.
Random House
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road
London SW1V 2SA
020 7840 8400 (phone)
020 7233 6117 (fax)


Jax said...

coo. You don't beat about the bush do you? Forgot that you are on there as well.

Christina Springer said...

Well, I'm just livid! I read it on this morning. (BTW - not one pathetic soul there voted the article up.) But, I digress, how dare she try to hijack my free speech? 'Course, I'm American and we were fed that right from the breast (or bottle in my case.) But - any free nation should object to these kinds of frivilous legal shenanigans. (Did I say I'm very angry?)

And the nerve of her to attack 7 nice WAHM's building up a home-grown business...just barely making a buck by providing a public service - to boot?!!? I remember when they stopped asking for donations just to keep the site up! It wasn't that long ago.

Sometimes, you have to call a bitch a bitch. I mean if she growls when you approach her feeding bowl...that just ain't civilised decent human behavior - now is it?

merry said...

I don't get livid about all that much, but actually i AM livid about this. And i might just do as you say and write to her publisher.

Anonymous said...

I think good luck to Gina Ford. If she closes down Mumsnet because of their libellous comments about her then it might make websites aware that libellous comments are not acceptable. Defamatory or abusive remarks are not on, I don't care how tired the mothers are who post on Mumsnet. If people cannot act like grown ups they ought to leave the computers for their children to play on.

Christina Springer said...

Sure, good luck fascists! I think the people will not be so willing this time.

Martin Niemolleter


When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

So - speak out. Speak whatever your truth is!

When they came for the co-sleepers,
I did not speak out,
I was not a co-sleeper.

When they came for the extended breast-feeders,
I did not speak out,
I was not an extended breastfeeder........

There is such a thing as a right to an opinion. Why should Ms Ford want this for herself...and yet nobody else should have such rights?

June said...

I'm totally with you, Christina. The woman is a menace with her methods anyhow, but the nerve of her to try and stop people having an opinion of them! I *will* write to her publisher, and will put a post on my blog encouraging other people to do so as well. Mind if I link to your blog entry, as you put it all so well?

Anonymous said...

Gina Ford has closed other forums as well by her silly legal stuff. Anyone can get a solicitor to write a letter for a tenner (or a bit more) and make it sound like they have substance but it doesn't mean that it would stand up in court.

Her qualifications mean nothing - there is no such thing as a maternity nurse! Glorified babysitter more like. Just who are her famous clients? Can she even name one who can confirm that she worked for them all those years ago. Anyone can study hotels in any city anywhere - they can also study catering by eating out in restaurants. Her biography is meaningless - it doesn't actually mean a thing and maybe she needs investigating as to what her real qualifications are - maybe that is why over the past few years she has silenced a number of forums where people have raised questions. In a court of law she would lose because asking questions is not a crime in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Oops I meant although anyone can call themselves a maternity nurse - it is not a recognised qualification as such. It does not mean the person has medical nursing as a background and imho is misleading.

Christina Springer said...

Anon -

You are absolutely right. One site she targeted was
The Bad Mother's Club. It was actually this site which made me feel there was a snowball chance of surviving in London. (When I was doing the initial research.) Unfortunately, I have been unable to keep up with this sassy, delightful group of Mums. But, the fact remains - you are correct. One by one - she targets the small, the vulnerable, the weak, and the disenfranchised. (Of course, we know this from reading her parenting philosophy...after all...who is victimised by her methods - all of the above I just mentioned. )

And perhaps I was wrong in my initial post. Perhaps rather than write her publisher - we ought to begin a fund drive for Mumsnet to fight this beast and let a judge bite her ...well anywhere uncomfortable....let's just say that it would probably be her purse. (Again - probably why she is such a rabid animal to begin with...because science just doesn't support her anymore...does it?

Anonymous said...

There's nothing sassy or delightful about the Bad Mothers Club. They have a mob mentality and run people off site who dare to disagree with them. More needs to be done to stop these sites where people think anything goes and they can all attack people with personal insults and libellous attacks however they please. You try being on the wrong end of it and then say how sassy and delightful it is when hundreds of women are making personal attacks on you and everything you hold dear.

But from what you have said trying to verbally destroy Gina Ford's character I can see you are just the kind of personality who would fit right in there. No wonder you loved the BMC.

I don't know anything about Gina Ford but your method of posting such hatred about her makes me warm to her immensely in response.

Anonymous said...

To the other anonymous - I would think you probably do know about GF because this is the tactic she has repeatedly used - sending out people to make comments such as yours. If you genuinely don't know who she is then all I can say is warming to someone who it can be believed advocates emotional abuse (leaving a 5-month old to cry for 3 hours etc is considered by most childcare experts with proper qualifications to constitute emotional abuse) is probably not your intention. She's a writer - she's written books on babies: babies are not recipes or musical instruments - they are real life forms and it is perfectly acceptable for people to challenge the methods in anyone's books if they talk about raising babies. If authors don't like it then they should not publish books in the domain where other people can read them. Academics who write papers are open to discussion and research/studies etc are allowed to go under scrutiny.

If a childcare method seems abusive to lots of people perhaps there is something in that.

Write to your MPs people - this is a political matter on freedom of speech, the use of the internet and so on and complain about the GF empire.

Anonymous said...

Hello again,

I'm not someone who is sent out by anyone to do anything. I form my own opinions. And so what if Gina Ford advocates some method of raising children over another? We all have free will whether to buy and read books or not. Nobody is making me use her methods so why should I resent or hate her for using tough methods? And if you feel the same way, you are also free not to read her books. I think assassinating her character on your weblof says a lot more about you than it ever could about her.

I might write to my MP and ask him to close down all websites where libel and personal attacks are encouraged. I have a completely different take on this story from you because I have been on the receiving end of this sort of mob-minded behaviour and it's not pleasant. You can only get all high handed about "freedom of speech" by ignoring or dismissing what this story is really about.

Christina Springer said...

In English and American law, and systems based on them, libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of character), which is the tort or delict of making a false statement of fact that injures someone's reputation. "Defamation" is however the generally-used term internationally, and is accordingly used in this article where it is not necessary to distinguish between "libel" and "slander".

I have made no false statements of fact.
1. Fact. On two seperate occaisions, Ms. Ford has attempted to silence women who wished to express negative opinions about her work.
2. Fact. She does this by attempting to hold the owners of websites which provide a forum for mothers liable for the contents of the site.
3. Fact. Ms Ford prevents mothers from discussing her by having the websites enact bans on all posts which mention her or her methods.
4. Fact. "A statement that amounts to an insult or is mere vulgar abuse is not defamatory. This is because the words do not convey a defamatory meaning to those who heard them (simple abuse is unlikely to cause real damage to a reputation)." In the Mumsnet case discussing the comment about WMD, this was an insult - not slander. as defined by
5. Fact. Ms Ford expressly chooses websites which are unable - for financial, not legal reasons - to fight back.
6. Fact: Ms Ford's behavior falls quite neatly into the definition of terrorist under Psycological Imact and Fear. "The attack was carried out in such a way as to maximize the severity and length of the psychological impact. Each act of terrorism is a “performance,” a product of internal logic, devised to have an impact on many large audiences. Terrorists also attack national symbols to show their power and to shake the foundation of the country or society they are opposed to. This may negatively affect a government's legitimacy, while increasinging the legitimacy of the given terrorist organization and/or ideology behind a terrorist act. "
7. Fact. The woman who posted the WMD comment has apologized. It is published at the end of Justine Robert's comments inThe Guardian.

So, Anony, you are wrong. She is attacking free speech. She doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. Because - no libel, defamation or slander could be proven in court. The fact is - she's behaving like a big bully and attacking groups with few resources to stop her. That's a very small person. (Heee. Heeee. Have you seen her picture?)

Anonymous said...

Hi there Christine, Anon here again,

Your fact no 2, the owners of the website ought to be liable for the words of their members. That is what moderation is for. Moderators exist in order to police a site. In this case, the moderators did not do their job properly and so Gina Ford got the lawyers in. She gave them ample warning and gave them a chance to sort themselves out and they didn't. I think they deserve everything they got.

Fact 3, if the women on the website had proven they could act like grown ups they might deserve the right to discuss her there. But really, is this really going to cause a bunch of gossipy women that much hardship? "Oooh I can't discuss Gina Ford on MumsNet any more! Call in the European Court of Human Rights!" No. Any women desperate to go and make mean minded swipes at her are free to go to any number of other websites nd bitch to their heart's content. So I don't buy the whole "human rights" angle on this story.

Fact 5, I am glad. These websites have moderators who think their members are free to destroy people's reputations with personal attacks and abuse. That's not on. It's unjust. It offends my principles of fair play and decency and humanity. How scary is it to consider these women who enthusiastically promote bullying of minority voices are also raising the next generation? That terrifies me. If a website closes down because of this I would do a happy dance.

Fact 6, I find it hard to take seriously.

Fact 7, too little too late, and also she apologised very sarcastically, so I don't think it counts.

"The fact is - she's behaving like a big bully and attacking groups with few resources to stop her. That's a very small person. (Heee. Heeee. Have you seen her picture?)"

Yes, you want to joke about how fat she is. Hilarious. Maybe you'd also like to say that she smells and your big sister is bigger than her and you're going to get her after school today? (sigh). Can you not mount an argument without recourse to ad hominem attacks? What does it matter what she looks like? You really should go back to the BMC, you'd fit right in.

Anonymous said...

Anony (and I still don't believe that you are acting under your own volition because I've seen GF's lot do this before - i'm 50/50 whether you are genuine) - under UK law saying that you will moderate or censor with a particular framework of references means you are opening yourself up to be liable for anyone else's views which is not desirable in forums (this would take a great deal of manhours/mamahours). It may be that Mumsnet have played further into the legal hands of GF's teams, although they have said they are asking for her not be discussed, rather than saying they will sort through all postings so maybe they will be all right. However, it is not just Mumsnet or BMC - she has performed this tactic for years.

That said it means she is opening herself up for babies who turn into adults - any of them believe themselves traumatised by her methods will be able to sue with a great deal of success if she repeatedly bans any criticims or evaluation of her works.

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

I assure you I am acting under my own volition by posting here. I can't prove it, so I suppose you must believe what you like. I am very much on GF's side simply because I have been cyber-bullied by a parenting messageboard and have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the situation amicably- so my sympathies are with women who have been viciously cyber-bullied as GF has.

I think that if websites are complacent about libel/personal attacks then they deserve the book thrown at them. Maybe UK law needs to change, I don't know. I'm not an expert in law. I think that common decency should be evoked a long time before the need to recourse to the law.

Common decency to my mind would be: remove threads that are full of personal abuse, remove them as and when they are seen and not just because someone has complained, and the moderators ought to take a strong line against it. Any posters with a modicum of intelligence will be aware of the difference between legitimate criticisms of GF's methods, and personal attacks. And those who cannot tell the difference should be banned. The law should not be needed, it should not take lawyers to have to tell a website "personal abuse is not acceptable". I mean for God's sake, these are parents, if they know not to personally abuse their own children and to abhor bullying when it happens to their children, why is it suddenly okay to bully each other on a website? Does anonymity mean common decency need not apply??

I see you have fudged the difference between "legitimate criticism of her methods" and "personal attacks". She had no problem with the former, her complaints were about the latter. The only way you can attack GF is by basically fudging what this issue is about, which tells me a lot.

I think if babies are traumataised by her methods they should sue their own mothers. I believe in personal responsibility. Nobody is making you, or me, or anyone, read her books.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of three contented children and have followed the Gina Ford vs Mumsnet issue with great interest.
I have just read GF's latest statement on her website
I think it is absolutely terrible that you are spreading lies about her via your blogs.
Perhaps the question that Mumsnet needs to answer is: why they didn’t take up Gina's offer on March 31st about her being prepared to waive her right to costs and damages.
This is hardly the behaviour of a woman who, according to Mumsnet, is only out to increase her own wealth.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that I am fed up of all the personal bashing of Gina Ford. I do not know why she should be subject to such personal attacks as I have read on Mumsnet when the rest of us would not stand for it. She is not trying to close down the website and does not care if people follow her routines or not. She is merely trying to offer some help and practical advice to parents, and to pass on some of the things she ahd picked up when looking after hundreds of babies over her career. She may not have children of her own, but she has been the full time carer for many children and has learned a lot along the way. She has spent more time caring for babies and toddlers than a lot of parents do these days. She may not have any professional qualifications, but neither have I and probably neither have any of the mothers on mumsnet who offer advice when people ask for it. Gina Ford is far more qualified than me to offer advice as I have only looked after one child - my own. She has looked after many children on a full time basis.

I myself tried the Baby Whisperer techniques and found that the confusion they caused me nearly drove me mad! So I abandoned that I looked elsewhere for advice. But just because I didn’t agree with Tracy Hogg’s advice didn’t mean I felt the need to lauch into a personal attack on her.

I would also like to point out that NOWHERE does Gina Ford advocate leaving a baby to cry for hours.

Please can people just accept that they don’t like her advice, but that for some people it really works and has been a godsend. No one is forcing you to read the book or follow her advice. If it works great, if it doesn't, throw the book in the bin and try somehting else. Stop the Gina bashing and move on.

I would also like to point out that I too am acting of my own volition by writing this here. My opinions are influenced by no one but me.

Madness on Ice said...

Rather than follow the pack mentality that is being exhibited by the independent supporters of Ms Ford and copy and paste the larger part of my comment from one site to the other (two sites that are to be found as a footnote of a page of selective quotations designed and emphasised to show how _reasonable_ Ms Ford is, and are actually described as "Look at these nasty people who are supporting the people I have deigned to declare as the publishers of dematory comments! This proves that people are out to libel me!") I will instead simply refer you to a posting on the other site:

The disclaimer at the bottom of that post applies here too.

Christina Springer said...

Madness and both new Anonys -

Thanks for your comments.

Madness, I only wish you had left your rather fantastic comment on my blog. I would have been honoured if your well written and lucid statements had been part of the discussion here.

If you go to my more current musings, you will notice my surprise and amusement to be listed on GF's website.

For once, she has done a wonderful thing. Point people in my direction!

Madness on Ice said...


I apologies for not gracing (everything is relative) your blog with my original rant. As an engineer, duplication of information is deemed a waste of resources ;)

I'm glad my posting brought Ian's comment to light for you, if nothing else :)

MoI. (Which I've just noticed could stand for "Ministry of Insanity" as well, not to mention the completely unintentional but happy collision with French.)

Madness on Ice said...

I apologies? So much for being lucid. Less brass polish for me!

Anonymous said...

I am just wating for the day Gina wins her case and goodbye to Mums net. I was a member on there before i used gina fords books to raise my two children and watched how she herslef was attacked not her methods which is what she is actually sueing about, though all of you seem to miss that point. Just to recap for the idiots Gina is sueing because of the peronal insults to her that went on for four years (and dont you tell me it didnt because i was there!) NOT because her methods are slandered.

I watched Mums Net members set up a disgusting spoof site about her, watched the so called moderators allow it all and then watched Mums Net actually asking its members to refrain from abusing Gina as a person...and the members carried on so they have brought it on themselves. Do you really think Mums Net has a chance in hell of winning this case with all the evidence against them? and with Gina's lawyers so positive she will win that they are doing it on a no win no fee basis?

Her methods like any other parenting guru are up for debate,but her personal life should not be. everyone has the right to defend themselves, that is a human right. And if freedom of speech means you can bully (which is what they did) someone and not have any repercussions then what the hell is that teaching our children? that bullying is okay? gina may be the best selling child care expert (and why do you think that is if her method are so terrible) but she is also still just a person.

i would like to ask you christina...have you used her methods? read her book> spoken to her yourself (let me guess, no no no and i wouldnt even want too blah blah blah) but in case i am wrong, i would love to hear why you despise her so much. I am rather disgusted to see you say her methods are akin to one that kills have no idea.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother and a lawyer, and I have followed Gina Ford's methods in raising my son. He is frequently described by others as the happiest, most contented baby they have ever met. I give much of the credit for that to Gina. It makes me chuckle to hear someone suggest that by raising their own children (let's say three or four) they have far more experience in childcare than someone like Gina who has been entrusted with the care of hundreds of babies. My memory of Gina's books is that she doesn't CLAIM to have formal qualifications and openly states that her methods have been developed over the years with the benefit of her experiences. She frequently defers to formally qualified experts throughout the books.

It is extremely sad that supposed mature adults (scarily, most of them appear to be mothers) don't appear to know the difference between a debate about someone's methods, and personal there really any need for the personal comments which appear on this page for instance?

It seems possible that those who criticise Gina's methods the loudest, are those who are most threatened by them....who perhaps cannot bear to entertain the possibility that there might have been another way of raising their own children.

I don't claim to know whether Gina's methods or anyone else's are "correct" or not. Surely it is an individual choice. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Gina's methods were the right choice for me. I have no difficulty with anyone disagreeing with me, but I too would be most upset if this disagreement degenerated into the type of nastiness I have read on this page. You appear to be turning even your comments of the legal aspects of this matter into a personal attack on Gina Ford....which is exactly the kind of thing I would expect a playground bully to resort to.

Again, surely if you had no doubt that the material in question was NOT defamatory or libellous, you would be able to sit back, relax, and wait for the tribunal of fact to confirm that truth for you?

Or do you have a conspiracy theory about the justice system too....?