Read Along

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay grew up in Switzerland at L’Abri Fellowship, which was founded by her parents Francis and Edith Schaeffer. She and her husband Ranald Macaulay established and led the L’Abri branch in England for several years. She is best known for her book For the Children’s Sake which helped to bring the ideas of the 19th Century educational philosopher, Charlotte Mason, to a new generation. The author also contributed to Books Children Love and When Children Love to Learn.
For the Family’s Sake focusses on the value of home in everyone’s life, married or single; divorced or widowed.
Years ago Edith Schaeffer wrote about family life in a way that helped me rethink and understand the importance of ‘home’ after the fallout from my parent’s divorce. Her daughter’s book, first published in 1999, speaks into our modern lives, into our busy digital society, to give us a vision and blueprint for ‘home’ at a time when it seems to be eroding.
Macaulay’s idea of ‘home‘ is one of beauty but it is also realistic. I appreciate that she understands that life can be hard but she doesn’t let that be an excuse to give up and become bitter about not having the life we might dream about.

There are fourteen chapters in this 286 page book. Some are quite short but others are a fair bit longer. My plan is to read approximately one chapter per week and write a blog post when I’ve finished and generate some discussion about what we’ve read. I’m not going to be rigid about the chapter per week but that’s my initial aim. A particularly long chapter can be spread over two weeks.
If you’ve read this book before, feel free to add your insights. It’s been a long time since I first read it and I’m surprised that considering the popularity of For the Children’s Sake that this book isn’t as well known. It deserves to be and I hope in a small way to bring it to the attention of more people.

If you don’t have a copy of the book it’s available as a digital copy:

Koorong E Book (You can read the preface & first two chapters here for free)

Amazon Australia Kindle

Amazon US Kindle

Also available as a physical book at Blackwell’s Books (UK) or Thrift Books if you’re in the USA.

15 thoughts on “Read Along

  1. I know I would love this book. It’s by a Schaeffer, and it is an important topic. People like to point fingers and blame so many miscellaneous externals when we are visited by the usual horror of society behaving badly (ie another school shooting), and they miss the biggest picture of all: the deteriorating family and miserable home life of so many young people. I am going to look into the other titles you listed, too. I wish I would have had these books as a young mother, but maybe I can pass them on to my own daughters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh, I’m in! This book was my introduction to Charlotte Mason too and I then devoured all the books by her Mum as well. I am just about to read “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” by Edith Schaeffer with an online Mum’s group in the US, so this is a perfect companion. These books came along in my life when my kids were teens but they encouraged me in what I was trying to do, on my own, at home. Great choice Carol.

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      • Oh this is very timely! I can’t believe I didn’t know about this book. I read Edith Schaeffer’s books as a young adult & young mother & ‘For the children’s sake’ before I started homeschooling but am in sore need of a refreshed perspective. I look forward to your thoughts Carol.

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  3. Hi Anna, I don’t remember how I heard about For the Family’s Sake but it’s not a book that’s as well known as it should be.
    Thanks for taking the time to comment & feel free to offer your thoughts on anything I write.


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  6. Thank you Carol. I am just seeing this now, and I think I would like this book. I was unable to finish Sally Clarkson’s book, The Lifegiving Home, because it was too unrealistic – she seemed to assume everyone has plenty of money and energy, loving family relationships, and so on (at least that was the impression I got). I would like a book about creating a comforting home atmosphere if it’s taking into account that many of us have very less-than-perfect lives and not a lot of funds either. I’m going to see if I can find an affordable used copy. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Laura,
      Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is what I’d call a gracious realist. Her book ‘For the Children’s Sake’ addresses similar issues in the area of home education – you do what you can with what you have; small things matter in the long run. 🙂
      Places like Instagram, which may be useful or inspiring at times, can empower this notion of perfection but really, it’s just an image. I haven’t met anyone who has had a perfect life or home but I’m always inspired by people I know who use what little they have and are satisfied.
      I hope you find a copy of the book for a decent price. It hasn’t been as popular as her home ed book but it should be. Feel free to add anything to the discussion even if you don’t get to read it.


    • Hello Laura, I am another person who found Sally Clarkson’s book difficult to finish, although I did, and was left feeling as if my own home, relationships and abilities would not measure up to what she was suggesting. That was over 5 years ago now and I personally feel different, but that was because I have grown in grace towards myself and others, and I now know that what my home looks like is good enough. That is why the second chapter of this book by Macaulay resonates with me and why this book as well as “For The Children’s Sake” by the same author, filled my cup and encouraged me more than others did. The realistic approach made me feel steady and able but the suggestions also inspired me. Charlotte Mason has a great quote about mothers being able to perform wonders when they realise that wonders are expected of them – my paraphrasing – and that was a call to me to do what was needed to make home the first priority for my family, including a granddaughter. As Susan says, if we feel rooted and balanced at home, then our relationships with others and community can grow from there. This is realistic. I hope you do find the book, I suggest World of Books for decent second hand copies of older publications. Thank you for being so open and sharing with us. Cate

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Hi Carol,

    How are you doing? The following are my comments to Chapter 2 of the Susan Schaeffer Macauley read along. I have commented on the site, but just making sure it reaches you.

    Thank you


    I’m late in contributing, but here goes…

    Reading this chapter made me think of the French Revolution – where C.S. Lewis says “Europe can come out of Christianity … and find herself back where she was …. A post-Christian man is not a Pagan; you might as well think that a married woman recovers her virginity by divorce.” Post-Christian society doesn’t return to pre-Christian ways… – when the people in France had their way, society deteriorated to bloodshed, the massacre of Protestant Hugenots and in the aftermath of the Catholic Church, appeared atheism etc. Not a benign return to pre-Christian society at all. More direct rebellion and rejection of God’s ways.

    Also the scripture regarding the one whose house was swept and garnished came to mind. Luke 11:24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.

    25And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.

    26Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

    The chapter mentions also the fall of the Roman Empire, and is that where civilization as we know it is at today? As society rejects Christ, debauchery and wickedness is rife and how long can civilization hold together without descending into at least some sort of anarchy. Governments have done their bit to contribute to the downfall of the nuclear family, Christian values and the home. I grew up in quite a traditional home, as did my husband with our fathers going out to work and us not coming home from school to an empty house. My parents deliberately chose to forgo income so that we children would have this home and they didn’t regret doing so. My father was in the police and my mum was at home or involved in our school for years certainly until my younger sister was older. The author also references her own father’s work – ” …how am I to live? What will a culture be like when people believe there is no truth, no purpose, no meaning – that there are no moral absolutes?” It seems that as traditional, Bible-believing, Jesus-following Christians become the minority and as we seek to “hold the line”, home educating and I guess just holding traditional values and believing in moral absolutes, you appear more as outsiders and even outcasts. Society deteriorates and changes around us but as the hymn says “O thou who changest not, Abide with me.”

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