For the Family’s Sake: Ch 6

‘Taking Time and Care to Create the Home’s Atmosphere.’

This chapter starts off with the wisdom of the biblical directive found in the Old Testament which says that a young husband could not be drafted into the army in the first year of his marriage. The establishment of the home and the newlyweds relationship with each other was to be the first priority.

Hopefully, not many of us have to face been sent into battle anytime, let alone in the first year of marriage, but the intention of these directives still stands. We may not be in a physical battle zone but there are many other ways in which our lives can be bombarded. These Old Testament directives were written to set priorities for the first year of a married couple’s life together and the principles behind them can still be helpful today.

So what bombards us today?

‘It seems to me that long, traffic-laden commutes and the draining effect of too many duties can have the same effect as a battle. Many careers hinder the new family from laying strong groundwork for the new home, as they take too much time and energy.’

Young women are told they can have it all – children and careers, but I wonder at the wisdom of this. I read an excellent article in The Australian not long ago that addressed this. Here is the link: ‘I’m a young, ambitious woman choosing kids over work,’ but you might need to sign up to read it. Or there is this article by the same author with some similar ideas. Here are some extracts from The Australian article,

‘My position as a mother is steadily being eroded by a society that rushes us back to paid work for economic gain while ignoring important metrics such as mental and physical health, social cohesion and relationships. It’s much harder to put a dollar figure on these concepts, and for that reason they go on mostly unrecognised…’

On ‘having it all’ Virginia Tapscott, the author of the article said:

‘I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to push through the sadness of leaving him in daycare. The illnesses he picked up were relentless and impacted our quality of life. If this is what they call “having it all” then I mustn’t want it all. It wasn’t what I thought equality would feel like. It was like I could only be equal if I pretended I didn’t have kids, if I pretended that caring for others was not a priority for me.

I think it’s a ridiculous notion that women need to position themselves in a workplace in order to be valued and earn respect… Before becoming a mother I championed individual success and completely envisioned myself as a working mum. I was socially conditioned to expect this by the “women can have it all” movement and it made my transition to motherhood awkward as hell. When my first son turned one I felt a sense of urgency and panic that I should be getting back to work, that if I didn’t go back now I’d never be allowed back in.’

Stress and hurry squeeze the life out of relationships. Our inner lives can become hollow and be prone to fracture if outside goals put too much strain on our relationships.

Charlotte Mason said that ‘Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life,’ and in this chapter Susan Schaeffer Macaulay takes that idea and applies it to the home – i.e. homes need the right atmosphere, discipline, and life. They should both be places of nurture; good places in which to live and grow at every stage of life. We need a balance between work and leisure to create a life-giving atmosphere. Too much rush and stress makes us dissatisfied and anxious.

A healthy, loving atmosphere cannot be faked. And it is in the home that we have the best testing ground for the fruit of the Spirit. We can put on an act for a visitor or if we are out somewhere, but at home the “scum rises to the top sooner or later.”
A healthy atmosphere doesn’t mean perfect conditions. We are all flawed and there are also practical considerations to think about, too.
We went for a bush walk this morning with my daughter-in-law and her three and one year old boys. We went well before the youngest was due for a sleep and their Mum brought along some snacks for when the boys started to flag.
These ‘disciplines’ of nutrition and rest also go into making the atmosphere of a home and if they’re not in place it makes for quite a bit of misery. Bedtimes, mealtimes, rest-times, playtimes, quiet times, all play their part in producing the atmosphere of the home, as do the relationships between the people living there alongside each other.
The atmosphere of the home is affected by what we allow into it and our reliance on God’s power.
We are encouraged in this chapter to ‘abide’ (stay, concentrate, give your full attention) to Jesus. To not be distracted by things that stir up resentment, impatience, or bitterness and discontent but to focus on the good, the pure, and the life-giving.

‘Enjoying “the sight and company of Jesus” through careful reading of His Word, thinking it over, and prayer is the first way of abiding.’

When the author was a busy young mother, involved in ministry and running a fifty-room manor house, she used to make an effort to wake up earlier than was comfortable to spend time with God. When that failed she tried making some time last thing at night but it all ended up becoming a duty instead of a joy. It was when she was preparing to write a book based on Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching that she discovered a way that would work for her and where she could give it her full attention.

‘Why can’t I treat God in the same way as a friend for whom I prepare and put aside time?…Well, I started to do just that, and I can tell you, it was a watershed in my life.’

There is a lot of richness in this chapter. Forgiveness, her thoughts on ‘character training’ versus qualities arising ‘from the inside out,’ the fruit of a life lived in God and the need for inner transformation.
From a child at the beginning of life to the elderly nearing the end of it, the Atmosphere is either life-affirming or it is not.

What are your thoughts?

I’ve written more about Atmosphere here and also here.

8 thoughts on “For the Family’s Sake: Ch 6

  1. This was a chapter full of sentences which had me nodding my head in total agreement. I felt the same way as a younger Mum when I read the book for the first time but now as a Grandma and married for longer, I see the wisdom in the ‘old ways and practices’ and in Charlotte Mason’s approach. I read parts of her The Draft Proof in her biography this morning and you can see how the key elements of her ideas for education were blossoming. Another biography that I just completed was of Lilias Trotter, who had a mission group to Arabs in Algiers from 1868 until she died at age 75. It was a magnificent story and I recommend it, as like Charlotte, she saw the benefits of and need to be focussed on Jesus Christ. She was also an artist and had a true love of children and their beauty as persons in their own right. In regard to this chapter, routines and a balance of activity and quiet are as essential to the adults starting a home as the children we hope to have eventually. Working on your own personal qualities and failings, and focussing on love, kindness, goodness etc will only serve to make the home atmosphere more joyful, fun, happy and calm. Again, this is for all who inhabit a home. Security, safety, being cherished and nurtured are key ingredients which will help children enjoy their experiences, books, play and relationships. It is encouraging to be re reading this book. In regard to your excellent comments Carol and the article by that young Mum, it is an attitude towards mothers that is rampant. I was asked at church on Sunday what I did during the week to fill my days. I politely replied that I had a 4 year old granddaughter to look after and a home to keep and that was plenty! The man looked quite shocked. I simply smiled.

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    • Was that bio of Charlotte Mason the one by Cholmondeley? I’ve read the bio of Lilias Trotter, Passion for the Impossible. I think there’s a child’s picture book about her as well??
      I’ve been asked that question ‘What do you do?’ a bit more in recent times – probably because I look old enough not to have little children, but it always jars me because it’s a reminder that working at home is not considered to be a worthwhile use of one’s time.
      I’ve also noticed that people expect you to be busy or ‘frantic,’ otherwise you mustn’t be doing enough. Where is the time to be still?
      Voluntary work, unpaid ministry etc. isn’t valued either & in Christian circles I wonder how we can obey the ‘older women teach the younger women’ if everyone is busy with careers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that was the bio by Essex Cholmondeley and I have never read it, so I tried a sample on Kindle. It is very easy to read and for me really adds more colour to who Charlotte was. That idea of being frantic or constantly busy was one that I absorbed as a young Mum, even though I was mostly at home. Now, after having a little one at home again, I actively push against it. We need that time to just sit and look out the window at a bird in the tree and that itself helps create the atmosphere needed in the home. Hugs from me.

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  2. I think establishing a peaceful atmosphere in the home is an important thing. I wish I had done more towards this end in my earlier parenting. Certainly staying home with your children, keeping house and homeschooling fills your days. And I think, knowing myself, that if I had not homeschooled and had my time filled that way, I am quite capable of wasting time on nonsense and so what other worthwhile task would I have been doing? If the parents are actively looking to Jesus Christ and following him, then this is the way to establish this atmosphere. Even as the father and husband works outside the home, his support of efforts within the house underpin that atmosphere as there is a general consensus on how things ought to be run.
    There is so much to distract us these days as there was before social media still, and those who have grandparents or other godly family around to look to, or upstanding church friends have an example of things to either try and copy or possibly avoid. Some trial and error of course and we are certainly not perfect by any stretch and that is why we need Jesus so much and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to direct our ways as it is not in man to direct his own steps.
    Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.—Jeremiah 6:16.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Angie, I think we can all look back and see things we wish we had done or not done. I’m grateful for the grace I can call on each day and as you say, having godly examples to inspire us is a huge plus. One of the problems I see now is that it’s easier to find someone on social media that looks like they’ve got it all together and would be a good ‘role model’ or ‘influencer’ as the term goes, but when we don’t have some sort of personal contact with them, it’s not ideal. We don’t see their failings & imperfections, which they will certainly have, and that can be discouraging when we are so aware of our own short comings.
      Hope you are enjoying the book & thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂


  3. Pingback: For the Family’s Sake: Ch 8 | journey & destination

  4. Pingback: Who Needs a Home? | journey & destination

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