The Amish are a fascinating group of people living in pockets all across the country. These traditional, Christian-faith based folk live their lives by strict and straightforward principles. We often associate them with their plain appearances, their reluctance to adopt the comforts that modern technology provides and their stanch traditions regarding male and female roles and education.
The Amish get a bit of a bad rap because they aren't a group of people who tend to encourage intellectual and personal growth. Modern society can't grasp the concept of stifling youth instead of elevating them to be their best and most prosperous selves.
It feels foreign to most parents, this idea of simplicity. To the Amish, however, it is that simplicity that helps them to raise their children. Kids' toys are simple, their dress is plain, the food is simple, and the rules are simple: children obey. While we can't get down with all of the ideas that the Amish live by, there are some parts of this private society that parents might want to take notes on.
Here are 10 things that we will probably never understand about the Amish, and 10 parenting practices that they certainly got right!
Let's start with the 10 things we'll never understand...
20 Faceless Dollies
When it comes to mildly unnerving toys, the Amish people win, hands down. The children raised in these simple, technology-free communities often play with rag dolls that have no faces. While mainstream parents might raise their eyebrows at there peculiar looking stuffies, the Amish have a perfectly sound reason for why their babydolls never have eyes, a nose and a mouth on them. These people believe that in the eyes of God, they are all the same, so there is no reason to create unique looks on the standard child's toy. All rag dolls and people alike are equal (no matter how creepy they may look).
19 Shaving Is Never Allowed
When Amish girls come of age, there is no bathroom tutorial session with older sisters or mom instructing them in the dos and don'ts of shaving.
According to the Schwartzentruber Amish Ordinance Letter, Amish women are not allowed to shave their legs or their armpits. They are also prohibited from cutting their hair. Mostly, they have to stay as natural and pure as possible. There is no vanity to their look at any point in time. Amish girls and ladies are about as Plain Jane as it gets. The idea of "plainness" extends past personal looks into all facets of the Amish peoples' lives.
18 Bonnets On Babies And Beyond
Plenty of infants wear bonnets to help shade their precious heads from the elements, but for the Amish, bonnet-wearing extends far past the baby stage. Head coverings are a way of life for the Amish people. They take their bonnet guidance from several biblical passages that guide them towards this questionable fashion statement. Girls under the age of nine often wear bonnets in a shade of blue, while more mature ladies were black or white head coverings. The exception here is the Amish people of Nebraska. They do not wear the standard bonnets that the vast majority of other Amish people wear.
17 Fashionable Baby Names Are Frowned Upon
Good luck finding an Amish baby named Meadow or Talon. When it comes to naming their little ones, the Amish steer clear of trendy, offbeat names and stick to what they know. Biblical names are crowd favorites among the Amish. There is no shortage of Levis, Samuels, Jacobs, and Johns. When it comes to giving their children middle names, they skip that part altogether. In place of the middle name will be the first initial of the father's name. On occasion, the mother's name will get used for the middle initial. This, of course, means that there will be many kids within a single Amish community with the same name.
16 Child Labor
We are all about supporting the concept of children partaking in chores, which Amish parents are the masters at enforcing, but perhaps they take things a little bit too far. Amish kids are sometimes up at the crack of dawn helping out on the family farm or otherwise and work as hard as their adult parents do. When we think of childhood, we often think of games, naps, day trips to parks, and play spaces. The Amish childhood experience is much different than that of most mainstream kids. They use the childhood period to train their kids in Amish principles so that they can grow up and walk the proper Amish life.
15 Scant Marriage Prospects
Young Amish ladies know that they will eventually grow up to become mothers and wives. When it comes to getting betrothed, their options are limited. They have to marry within their community, they can't just leave the Amish enclave and venture out into the world to find their perfect person. Chances are he has been right there all along. Many Amish brides and grooms know one another from very early on. Once two Amish youngsters decide that forever is in their cards, the court in secret, pray on it and announce it to the church. There is 'no fuss, no muss' when it comes to Amish marriages.
14 Teaching Women's Roles From Early On
One of the more concerning Amish principles is how little opportunity there is for girls to flourish outside of the limited roles that the community offers. Outside of Amish enclaves, girls grow up to be politicians, doctors, lawyers and pretty much anything that they can dream up. The world is their oyster, and they are encouraged to take the bull by the horns and never settle. Female empowerment does not exist within Amish communities, not like most of us outsiders experience it anyhow. Girls grow up knowing that their adult role will be that of devoted wife and mother. During their scant single years, they might hold jobs like waitressing, teaching and household helpers.
13 Up Early All The Time
To say that the Amish people work from dusk till dawn is a vast understatement. They often don't turn in until after 9pm, perhaps later in the summertime, and they wake up long before the sun even thinks about rising. Typically, Amish people start their toiling around 5:30am, meaning that they wake around 4:45 or 5:00 in the morning. There is much work to be done both inside and outside of the home, so these people have to get a running start in their day. Most of us parents shudder at the mere thought of waking our children up at such an early time. From the moment they are born we seem to be praying for just a couple more minutes of sleep.
12 Siblings: The More The Merrier
In modern society, families with three and four children are considered to be large families. The average family in the United States has two children in it. The Amish on the other hand, believe in having large families. They often have six to eight children in their families, sometimes even more! The Amish view children as gifts from the heavens and each child is celebrated as such. All of those children come in handy, too. Once they are old enough to help around the farm, they become handy tools in everyday labor. In these communities, the more kiddos, the merrier!
11 Forbidding Cute Clothing
One of the most fun parts of having a baby is getting to dress him or her up in sweet little fashions. Amish parents could never relate to such a thing because their kids get draped simply from the time of their birth until their last breath. The Amish dress to reflect humility and modesty. They often wear solid shades of black white and blue to reflect their faith-based morals and values. For them, clothing is not something that a lot of thought is put into. They don't view fashion as a means of expression; just a means to cover their bodies.
And here are 10 things the Amish actually got right...
10 Instilling Values From The Get Go
Here in mainstream America, each family has its own unique set of core values, but in Amish enclaves across the country, everyone functions under the same principals and ideas and those fundamental values start virtually from birth. Some of the common Amish values that parents instill in their children from day one is to put the Lord before all, to strive for a life of goodness and spiritual soundness, to focus on community and family, and peaceful conflict resolution. It would be rare to raise a child in the Amish culture and have values that differ from those of the rest of the community.
9 Not Placing Focus On Material Things
Most parents in mainstream society indulge their kids at least on their birthdays and holidays, buying toys, and material goods to their offsprings' liking. The Amish do their best to show their children that material things do not equate to happiness and are unnecessary. A few wooden toys or faceless rag dolls are commonly played with by Amish youngsters but compare that to the goods that most kids have these days, and you can see how non-materialistic the Amish families are. They make sure their children know that there is far more to life than tangible items.
8 Doing Chores As A Family
Imagine not having to engage in a war with your teenager every time you told her to pick up her room or make her bed. Better yet, imagine that you never had even to ask your children to do such tasks! Stretch that into a fantasy world where your kids keep their spaces tidy and help out with all of the chores around the home and even beyond. Oh man, the Amish got this one right! Their kids are masters at performing duties. Daily tasks are an integral part of Amish life, and these kids would not dare tell their parents "no" when instructed to set the table for mealtime or go outside and hang the washing out to dry.
7 Teaching Their Offspring To Be Hospitable
Teaching small humans to be selfless is about the most impossible task on the planet. Somehow the Amish have managed to make this parenting feat look effortless. One of the core principles of the Amish is to introduce the concept of the community above the individual. From very early on, children learn that their needs do not come before the needs of the whole. This practice allows them to be openly hospitable without even trying. In Amish communities, family and friends are in and out of each other's homes all of the time. Whether they are making a social call or otherwise, kids see their parents showing hospitality to all who walk through their doors and adopt those values.
6 Teach Uffgevva
Most parents that we know are all about creating little people who are unique and interesting individuals. Parents everywhere try and draw out the aspects of their kid that makes them unique and different. We don't want cookie cutter kids. We want a one-of-a-kind!
The Amish essentially do the opposite. They teach uffgeva, which is a principal that revolves around serving others before self, and purposely avoiding arrogance and self-pride. These kids are the epitome of humble. We all know more than a few children who could stand a couple of lessons in uffgeva.
5 Family Comes First
We do love how Amish parents make sure that all children learn the concept of family first. Family ranks right up there next to Godliness for these pious people. Amish children know that outside of cherishing their parents and siblings; someday they will grow up to marry another Amish youth in the community and together with that individual, they will remain married for all of their days and have many children who they will raise. Concepts like divorce, or choosing not to procreate are practically foreign to the Amish people. Even after Amish youths marry, they will remain close to their families, creating the ultimate bond.
4 Nixing Technology
One of the defining qualities of Amish life is that these people shun the use of technology. This aspect is mostly true, but not entirely. These thoughtful people do use some elements of technology, such as battery operated lights for their buggies and even various farm tools that will make life far more productive. What they don't do is hand over the television sets and iPads to their children. In this country, there are roughly 40 various Amish subgroups, and every one of them approaches modern conveniences and technology differently. When it comes to technology and electricity, some groups are more conservative than others.
3 Teaching The Importance Of Tradition
The Amish are some of the most traditional people that you can come across. They have been sticking to "doing things the old fashioned way" for centuries. It's because of their traditions that their way of life continues to exist in this crazy modern age. One tradition within the community that parents hold fast to is in regards to education. Kids often stop their studies after eighth grade. Can you imagine not pressing your child to attend high school? Sure lots of the Amish traditions are noble and worthy, but this one is not a tradition that we could even see ourselves following.
2 The Kids Eat What Gets Served. Period.
What mom has not nearly lost her mind over serving a different dinner for each kid in the family because of their finicky preferences? There is nothing more frustrating than cooking meals that your family whines about. Amish parents don't have to endure this common frustration because their kids eat what they get served, or they don't eat at all. Because Amish families eat simply, which falls in line with their overall way of life, there aren't more tantalizing food choices sitting around. Sugary cereals and microwavable meals aren't in the fridge, so kids in this culture learn to eat the foods placed in front of them.
1 Teaching A Faith-Based Life
The Amish people strive to live a faithful and religiously based life, and this helps them t0 steer clear of vices and demons that often attract other groups of people to dangerous and nonproductive habits and lifestyle aspects. The Amish parents teach their children right and wrong and help guide them towards a life of morality. This culture is based around religion and teaching Christianity is a large part of their parenting practices. When it comes to whether or not to raise your kid within the church, the Amish don't even have to think twice. They are all about the church ways, and thus their children learn Godly ways also.