For the Family’s Sake: Ch 11

Madame André Wormser and her Children by Edouard Vuillard (1927)

Oops! I thought I’d already posted my thoughts on this chapter: ‘Choose Wisely and Leave Time for the Daily Rhythms.’ 

Well, my daily rhythms have certainly been out of kilter this week. A combination of a painful tooth and an ear problem has messed me around but I’m finally going to see both my dentist and doctor tomorrow. No exercise to speak of this week and wandering around in a dopey condition has been the result. My husband calls me ‘cast iron Carol’ because I’m rarely sick even if everyone around me is half dead, so I’m not a good patient if I do have something wrong with me. 🙁

You’ve probably noticed if you’ve been reading along with me that there is a fair bit of overlap between chapters, but although Susan Schaeffer Macaulay stresses again and again the need for young children to have stable home lives, she offers various scenarios as she goes as to how we may achieve that in our very different situations. We are all uniquely different but have certain things in common.

So we need to clarify to ourselves and to each other what should be the same for all, if possible, and yet see how different these commonalities can look when worked out in real life.

Macaulay states that our society is rapidly devaluing human life. It’s crazy to me that on the one hand we are appalled about youth suicide but at the same time encourage the idea that those who wish to end their lives should be given all the help they require. It’s also bizarre that we (rightly) encourage and support those with disabilities but at the same time endorse aborting the unborn because they have some sort of impairment. The mixed messaging doesn’t make sense.

Obviously such attitudes are not new in human thought, but the way we are treating human life, generally speaking is rubbing off on us all…In the last decades as developmental science has clarified how important the first years are for each child’s future intelligence, welfare and wholeness, we have had a parallel decline in respect for society’s most natural and best full-time caregiver – the mother who devotes much of her time to this. We have now reached the place where people actually feel pity for a mother “stuck at home” with two or three youngsters. Her hard work, skills, and growing wisdom are devalued. The entire human community then loses out.

While there is less and less respect for full-time parenting as one of the most valuable services rendered to the human race, our culture has also devalued any careers associated with early childcare or education…

Caregivers are often low-paid members of society…

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

The idea that our children’s lives should not inconvenience us and the expectation that our marriages should suit us in every way from the very beginning, confuses us. It’s an unreal expectation. We dream and wait for what we want but neglect to put in the work to bring it about.

‘Instead we need to watch for small successes along the way and develop patience, skill, and wisdom.’ Satisfaction means carrying through with the situation that is our life, just where we are.  Biblically, serving each other is one of the highest priorities in life.’

She explains that the way to build contentment is to accept that sometimes our circumstances won’t change. The effects of the poor choices we’ve made and their consequences are with us. Our choice is to whine or to make the best of them.

In real life we will face difficult circumstances.

‘A solution in real life cannot be ladled out like soup. All of us in every stage of life need to keep the basic “tree trunk” of daily life stable and yet adapt and choose creatively in details.’

As she points out, it’s not much good staying at home to be a full-time parent if the family goes hungry!

Our well-being is necessary – if we fall apart we won’t be much good to our kids. Making sure the basic fabric is covered first – the routine of regular meals together, bedtimes, rest – before adding in work outside the home, volunteer work or other activities, is vital.

The mother of a good friend of mine during my high school years had a family day care job at home. She was a very motherly woman and loved the two or three children who came to her house during the week. She was also very motherly to me when I was in my mid-teens. With the advent of institutional childcare family daycare seems to have dwindled, which I think is a shame. The ability to create a home atmosphere for children is important, especially up until the age of ten and in the right situation family day care would appear to be a better option. 

‘We all have different levels of energy. We must not try to do something just because someone else can cope with it. What works well for one parent or family can be a disaster for another.’

The 2005 Australian of the Year was Professor Fiona Wood, a Western Australian plastic surgeon. I read a magazine article about her years ago and was struck by how she and her husband, also a surgeon, managed to raise six children while she continued with her career. From what I remember, she was able to manage on very little sleep and had incredible energy. Her husband was very supportive and took an active role in their children’s lives. This article tells a bit about her.

The single parent faces extra emotional and practical challenges. Having lots of stuff doesn’t make a good home or give us happiness but poverty is a destructive enemy. A larger home means more work and more care. Does a child really need their own bedroom?? 

Should we sacrifice our home life and well-being to have perceived needs? 

Jesus said that we should not put stumbling blocks in front of “little ones.”

In other words, smoothing the path in front of children is worthwhile. Letting little children grow up in the care of constantly changing adults is definitely an emotional and intellectual disadvantage (or “stumbling block”).

Jesus always puts people’s good first; things are only to serve people’s needs or are gifts for life’s enjoyment.

Single persons, men and women may need to say ‘no’ to a high-pressure job, a promotion or a transfer to allow time for their lives at home. We need to ‘know our frame,’ to understand where our boundaries are so we don’t go beyond our limits. 

If we feel the life being squeezed out of us, we need to rethink what we should be doing or not doing.

3 thoughts on “For the Family’s Sake: Ch 11

  1. Reading your own comments and seeing what you have underlined in a past reading fo a book is very interesting and insightful, usually because it reminds you of what was going on in your life at the time. None of what I found interesting and important has changed in this chapter. A stable house with continuity and being faithful to a child’s life, the idea of service to others – as you said Carol, all overlaps from other chapters – all made sense to be then, and still do now. One thing that is new is the reminder that it is an individual choice, that my energy levels and family choices must not be influenced by another person’s choice. I live with Crohn’s Disease and generally have major amounts of energy and joy to make and keep my home. But I do get down occasionally when I see or hear what others are accomplishing. Then again, the fact that I am home meant that Iris and I could stop and watch butterflies and bees on flowers yesterday, and talk about what they were doing. This was a good bit and I have learnt to be content with both the good and not so great bits!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Crohn’s disease would definitely be a major dynamic to be worked around! One of my sisters seems to thrive on very little sleep & I’ve often wished I could but that’s never going to happen! But her circumstances are also very different to mine. A lot of my energy has gone into just having 7 kids and everything that goes with that physically.
      Hope life has settled down at your place & you’re getting some time to rest & read. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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

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