I checked this book out of my library on a lark to have something to read while on my treadmill and I have to say…I LOVED it!!! Written in the same vein as Bringing Up Bebe this book spotlights the child rearing practices of the “plain” and what we can learn from them. Miller is someone who lives in Ohio and who has befriended a number of Amish families that agreed to be interviewed for the book. I have to say, I learned a lot.
I know very little about the Amish and I am smart enough to know that what I “think” I know about the Amish may not be correct. After all, like most Christian denominations, the Amish are subdivided so some of what I read in this book may apply to this one community while some of it may apply across the board. Understanding that what I learned may not apply to every Amish family (Lord knows I’ve heard my share of horror stories), I have to say I am impressed by the family focused attitude the Amish have.
Yes, they have a lot of children. Yes, those children finish school by the 8th grade, but these children never stop learning and they have a sense of responsibility that is enviable. Each child knows that they are an integral part of the family unit. It would never occur to them to sit back and let someone else do the job. They know that their contribution is just as important as the next person and the family will not function as well without it.
Although the Amish seem to be a patriarchal society, there is a lot of equality between the genders. Miller asked one woman if she felt that her place was lower than her husband’s in the family. The gal seemed genuinely surprised by the question and assured her that she felt she was her husband’s partner. Although he worked outside and she managed the house, she said it took both of them doing an equal amount of work to make the household function. The woman was then asked if she would want to work outside the home and she was quick to answer that sometimes she does when she is in the fields with her husband. (Keep in mind farming is often the family business so that would be the “outside job.” The author then asked about the fact that Amish women are forbidden to preach in the church…surely this was proof that women are considered to be second class citizens? The interviewee said she wouldn’t want to preach. She said church was the only time she really had to rest all week…why would she give that precious time up to do more work?
I was very impressed by the simple practicality that these people seem to live by. Family time is critical. They want their children to socialize and have fun. They do not put emphasis on material things and their focus seems to be in the right place. And if their children are any indicator…they must be doing something right.
If you see it…check it out. Borrow.