What do we think of when we think of the Amish? We might picture farms, home-cooked meals, close families, and old-school beliefs. We may know that they don't use electricity and that community is a really big part of their lives. It's safe to say that many of us don't know a ton about the Amish, especially the way that the Amish raise their children. We're definitely interested in learning more because it's always fascinating to hear how parents choose to raise their children.
There have been some reality series that have shown the Amish, such as Breaking Amish on TLC. That show, in particular, featured Amish people in their 20s who were deciding if they would choose the Amish or non-Amish way of life. Even if people tuning into the show weren't Amish, they could relate to that feeling of wondering if someone should always follow in the footsteps of their family background or go their own way.
What kind of activities do Amish children do every day? What kind of school do they go to? What do the Amish think about chores, and what kinds of chores are encouraged?
Here are 20 unique ways the Amish raise their kids (that no one else does).
20 When Amish Children Grow Up And Marry, They Write Letters To Their Parents
According to Taste of Home, Amish children grow up and marry, and then they write letters to their parents.
This is another unique way that the Amish raise their kids. While we would love nothing more than for our kids to grow up and write us letters, we're sure that wouldn't happen because letter writing isn't something that modern families do. Sure, they might email us sometimes, but it's more likely that they would text us when they wanted to tell us something specific or just keep in touch. It's so interesting that letter writing is part of their family culture.
19 The Amish Believe That Kids Can Be "Trained" So They Never Misbehave
According to Fatherly, Amish parents "train" their kids so that misbehaving doesn't happen.
We would say that this is a unique way to raise kids, right? Usually, parents accept that some bad behavior and tantrums will just happen, but the Amish have higher standards for their kids. While we try our best to talk to our children about right and wrong and the best way to behave, we know that when they're tired or they want to eat something, we're going to see a different side of them that we might not love so much. It sounds like the Amish make sure that kids behave all of the time.
18 The Family Wakes Up Super Early (Even 3 A.M.)
Getting up early can be pretty satisfying, especially as a mom. We have a quiet house, we can have a cup of coffee or work out quickly, and we can pack lunches or do something else that will help us that day.
Amish families wake up early, too... but we're talking much earlier than we would. As Taste of Home explains, "It is not uncommon for Amish families to rise as early as 4 in the morning—sometimes even 3 if they have somewhere to go in the buggy."
It's safe to say that most families aren't waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning. We would say that 6 a.m. is early enough for us.
17 Instead Of Kids Doing Chores Alone, Everyone Does Them Together
When we decide that our kids are old enough to do some chores, we come up with a list of tasks and we generally let them do them alone. In Amish families, they do chores together. It sounds like it's a family activity.
According to Consumer Affairs, "Amish children start helping around the house at a very young age. The reason for this is that Amish parents want their children to feel like they are part of a community. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and contribution, and it can help them learn to be more empathetic. This can also contribute to their academic success."
16 The Entire Family Is Involved In Farm Life, No Matter What Age
According to Fatherly, the whole family is involved in farm life. This is another unique way that Amish families raise their kids.
This is very different from the way that we grew up and the way that we're raising our own kids (unless, of course, we grew up on a farm). If any of us grew up in the country, then we can probably relate a little bit because we understand the importance of helping family members out and getting outside. If we grew up in a city and are raising our kids in an urban environment, though, we would say that this aspect of Amish family life is very unique.
15 The Amish Don't Like Technology (So No Screen Time Here)
One unique way that the Amish raise their kids is not having any technology. According to Cleveland.com, "Families don't watch TV at night or obsess over smartphones... Instead, they talk to each other."
Moms can agree that it's definitely unique for families not to have any technology. That means that the Amish don't talk about screen time rules the way that we do. It can be hard for us to imagine cutting back on the hours we spend staring at our phones and TV sets (even if we know that this would be good for us and that we need some more boundaries for us and our kids).
14 Families Eat Meals With The Larger Community Once A Week
According to Taste Of Home, Amish families eat meals with the larger community weekly. As the website explains, this could mean people from church or "extended family."
This is something else that is unique to Amish families. Most of us have meals with our immediate family on a regular basis but we don't see our other relatives that often, especially if they live far away. And we don't usually take the time to get to know the larger community around us. It can be tough to juggle everything that we have on our plates as moms, but hearing about how the Amish raise their kids, we realize that community is a big thing for them.
13 Kids Are Raised To Consider Family More Important Than Anything Else
Amish families raise their children to believe that family is more important than anything else. While we strive for close family bonds, we don't place quite as much importance on this as the Amish do.
Consumer Affairs explains that the Amish believe that you should "Make sure your children know that family always comes first." The website continues, "It takes precedence over careers or individual desires. Generally, Amish men and women marry young, have many children, and do not get divorced. Family is next to godliness in their eyes. Most Amish couples live near their parents, and that structure creates stability for their growing family."
12 Family Breakfast Is A Big Deal
The Amish have breakfast together, and this family breakfast seems to be a big part of how they raise their kids. According to Taste of Home, "Before dividing up the day’s tasks, the typical Amish family gathers once a day after early-morning chores for a family breakfast."
In other households, this doesn't always happen. We're rushing around, packing lunches and backpacks and figuring out if our kids will even eat the lunches that we're packing them. Our kids are wearing two different colored socks and we can't find their favorite T-shirt. A lot of mornings are chaotic. The Amish, in contrast, have a nice morning meal as a family.
11 Amish Parents Bring Kids With Them To Volunteer
According to Crosswalk, when parents volunteer, they bring their children with them. As the website explains, "Rather than getting childcare for the times you’re doing volunteer work to help people in need, include your children whenever possible. Let your children work alongside you doing age-appropriate tasks and seeing firsthand how volunteer service changes people’s lives for the better."
This sounds really nice, and it's also a unique way that the Amish raise their kids. While we might volunteer with our kids sometimes, particularly around the holidays, we might not make this a regular part of our lives the way that the Amish do.
10 Kids Have Dolls That Don't Have Faces On Them
Amish children play with dolls that don't have faces on them, and this is part of their culture. As Ranker.com explains, "There are a couple of lines of reasoning as to the purpose behind the faceless doll. In the Bible, the Book of Deuteronomy forbids the creation of “graven images,” which means that people cannot create an idol with human characteristics, as only God can make humans. Another belief is that a doll with a face (a pretty face, at that) will make the child vain. Vanity is severely looked down upon in the Amish community."
That's really interesting to hear about, and it's also a unique part of Amish family life. If our kids play with dolls, they do have faces.
9 16-Year-Olds Are Encouraged To Go To A Big Party And Have Fun
"Rumspringa" is something that the Amish believe in: As Ranker.com explains, "When Amish teens turn 16, they can leave the community for a trial run of the English life known as Rumspringa, which translates to 'running around.'"
Teenagers are encouraged to go to this big party so they can see if they want to stay in the Amish community or not. It sounds like the majority of teens do decide that they will continue to be Amish.
We can definitely see that this is a unique way that the Amish raise their kids. We hope that our teenagers don't go to parties and spend a lot of time worrying about it.
8 The Amish Don't Value Buying Lots Of Things
Crosswalk says that the Amish don't value buying lots of things, for example at Christmas.
While we might not want to call ourselves "materialistic," we can admit that we do buy a lot of toys for our children at Christmas. We also buy them things on a regular basis, from a special birthday present to a gift "just because." Some of us may be better at saving money and not buying things than others, and it just depends on our personality. But we don't agree as a culture that we shouldn't buy things. We lean more toward the opposite of that.
7 Parents Make Sure Children Can Cook
Amish parents teach their children to cook and are focused on their kids learning things. Crosswalk explains, "Give your children as many opportunities as possible to learn new skills – from cooking to carpentry – just like the Amish do. Keep each of your children’s interests and talents in mind, and try to teach them skills that will help them do what they’d like to do and can do well, as well as practical skills that will help prepare them for adulthood."
This is unique because while we cook and bake with our kids, we don't all consider cooking to be something that they absolutely must learn.
6 When Kids Start Dating, They Have To Follow A Specific Tradition
According to Ranker.com, the Amish follow a specific tradition when they start dating: It's called "bed courtship." The publication explains, "While it is falling out of fashion in Amish communities, bundling - also known as 'bed courtship' - is still practiced by some ultra-conservative Amish today. It involves a courting couple lying together fully-clothed in bed. While lying in bed, the couple are encouraged to speak to each other all night to become emotionally closer."
While we would admit that we have rules for our kids once they start dating and we want to know who they're going out with and what's going on, we don't have the same kind of tradition that some Amish families follow.
5 Parents Want Kids To Be Joyful But Always Put Others First
According to Parent Map, author Serena Miller said about how the Amish view joy, “Happiness is seen by the Amish as a byproduct of their godly life, not a goal in itself." The publication continues that the Amish believe in "uffgewa" which means "no one individual is more important than the others."
It sounds like Amish parents want their kids to be joyful, but they want them to always put others first. This is very different from the way that other households raise their kids. We can definitely agree that we think of happiness as a "goal." We often find ourselves saying things like, "As long as our kids are happy, that's all that matters."
4 The Amish Have Religious Beliefs They Share With Children
According to Crosswalk, the Amish are religious and it definitely sounds like church is a big part of their lives. They go to church regularly and also have meals with the church community.
Amish parents raise their kids to be religious, and this is unique because not every family wants their kids to be religious or feels this is important. Parents have to do what feels right to them, and religion is one of those things. Some parents want their children to go to church with them and other parents don't go at all. It just depends on the household.
3 Amish Kids Go To A Super Small School
Amish children go to a super small school. As Amish Mennonite Quilts explains, "All Amish children are required to attend school from the first grade to the eighth grade. Amish children do not attend public schools, but instead go to a one-room schoolhouse that is located near their homes."
This is unique since most children go to large public schools, and if they go to a private school, it's not in one room and is still fairly big. Of course, there are so many educational institutions out there, and parents can choose to send their kids to public or private schools or homeschool.
2 Helping Others And "Hospitality" Is A Big Value
According to Amishamerica.com, one big value for the Amish is helping people and "hospitality." Parents talk to their children about hospitality often and they want them to grow up being really helpful to others.
While we would love for our kids to be sweet to others and to help them when they see someone in need, we can admit that we don't instill these values in our children as much as the Amish do. We do consider this important, but it's not something that we focus on all of the time (although it does sound like a really good idea).
1 Families Do Things Together After Dinner And Go To Bed Earlier Than Most Families Do
Amish families go to bed pretty early and also hang out together after having dinner. According to Lancasterpa.com, “Yes, Amish families do play games and read together in the evenings. Parents are involved in their children’s activities. However, there are not long evenings in an Amish family. When the children get home from school, there are chores that must be done. At an early age, children have responsibilities assigned to them."
This is another unique way that the Amish raise their kids. While we sometimes do things as a family after dinner, we can admit that our kids are likely to play on their own, especially as they get older. And our kids' bedtimes are probably a bit later than the Amish. As Lancasterpa.com explains, "After the evening meal, the school homework must be tackled, and before long it is bedtime. Amish are early risers and therefore go to bed early.”