Friday, June 13, 2008

For the Family's Sake by Susan S. Macaulay

In For the Family's Sake Susan Schaeffer Macaulay makes the case for creating a home environment that will nurture children. She offers loads of practical advice on how to slow down and concentrate on things that really matter. Much of her inspiration comes from the writings of British educator Charlotte Mason. And I would venture to say that the common sense Christianity in her book was gleaned largely from her famous mother, Edith Schaeffer.

From page 94: Today the prevalent attitude is that the care of the family and home is “menial”, unimportant, a waste of expensive education and potential. Homemaking is seen as a mere detail that can be amply covered as secondary to a job or career, which is “real life”. This gives the truth away – today’s values are totally upside down from God’s point of view. People and their everyday lives matter more than things or status. Serving others is the highest calling of all (apart from prayer) – serving them in ordinary ways, giving people what they need.

From 208: We live in an age where everyone is trying to sell something. People will try to sell you expensive gadgets for your little ones and tell you to make “educational” purchases. Videos at one? Computers at two? Classrooms at three? And the answer is, “No, the child needs the old-fashioned basics.” Parents, home, land. Love, boundaries, routines. Family friends, community. Seasons, earth, sky. Activity, sleep. All stirred with warmth, fun, and lots and lots and lots of enjoyment. The main ingredient of this “stew” will be talking together, communication – and then reading books together.
This statement on 162 was startling: One of the ways a torturer destroys a person is to deprive him of adequate sleep, leisure, solitude, or friendship, and of course food…. Sadly it is fairly normal now for people to fail even to begin to provide themselves or their children with these basics. People expect to live in constant stress. (!)

I first read this book in 1999 when my children were small. Almost every page has an underlined passage or a comment scribbled in the margin. I sensed I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic (maybe I mean “naïve”) as I read it the second time through. Although I have put into practice many of Susan’s suggestions, I’ve discovered that laboring to create a perfect home environment doesn’t necessarily guarantee perfect children. Then again, if there was an easy formula for raising kids we wouldn’t have to trust the Lord so hard.


Sherry said...

Amen to both your affinity for the book in the first place and your realization that "good kids" aren't guaranteed. I daresay I haven't done it (parenting, family, homemaking) as well as either Edith Schaeffer or her daughter Susan, but as far as I can tell, we've all gotten mixed results. In other words, we've all raised Romans 3:23 people.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting impatient, Hope, to read through all your archives. Alas, I can't be near the computer much in the next few days.

The last sentence of this post is golden. And I can relate to *both* readings of this book.