Plain Talk about the Amish: What makes an Amish childhood so special?
Few would disagree that an Amish childhood is a special one. The best of all, perhaps. Secure, safe, enveloped in family and meaningful traditions. Even those who have left the church reflect on their childhood with fond, wistful memories. Raised in rural settings, Amish children have remarkable freedom—the run of the farm with very little supervision (or so they think!)—with time to play, to explore, to be kids. “We weren’t plugged into a TV or an iPod,” said one Amish farmer in Ohio. “We relied on our imaginations.”
I asked my Amish or formerly Amish friends this question: What made your childhood so special?
Here are some responses to that question, in their own words:
“I would have to say it’s because we were involved in everything. We worked alongside our parents; we always felt like we were needed and appreciated.” Mary Ann Kinsinger, raised Old Order Amish in Somerset, Pennsylvania. She writes a blog about her childhood, A Joyful Chaos.
“We had a farm. Dad was at home. We were all together, out in the country. We were taught a wonderful work ethic. I appreciate it all the more the older I get. It’s a real blessing if you’re taught to work even if you don’t get paid. And finally, I think growing up in a godly home makes an Amish childhood special. Of course, some homes are more godly than others. But I cherished my godly upbringing.” Barbara Weaver, Old Order Amish raised in Napanee, Indiana.
“There’s a oneness in the home among the Amish,” saidys Monk Troyer, whose father was a minister in an Old Order Amish church. “Mom and Dad were home. Children were the priority. I know it might not be possible in today’s families to have that. It seems as if they need to have two incomes. But it’s the best thing I can think of about being Amish—Mom and Dad were home.”
Time together as a family. Time with Mom and Dad. Time without electronic distractions. Time to be a child, to play, to learn skills, to explore the natural world. The Amish have a saying: “The best thing you can spend on your children is time.” Just . . . time.