Sunday, February 01, 2015

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

More than Happy:
The Wisdom of Amish Parenting
By Serena Miller & Paul Stutzman
To be published by Howard Books
Feb 3rd 2015

Serena Miller writes Amish fiction and this foray into non-fiction makes for interesting reading. When researching the Amish way of life, especially in Holmes County, Ohio, she noticed that Amish children seemed to be the happiest, most well-behaved children she had ever seen, despite their lack of modern material goods.

Intrigued, she used her contacts to meet a variety of Amish people who were willing to discuss what makes Amish children so happy. Gradually she came to realise that it the key to it all is family. Her co-author, Paul Stutzman, was born into an Amish family who subsequently became Mennonite;  he himself married a Mennonite girl and remains in that faith community, and adds a great deal by his own accounts of growing up "Plain". The Amish believe in putting the needs of others before their own and they have a steadfast adherence to avoiding hochmut (pride) at all costs, while still believing any job of work needs to be done honestly and to the very best of their ability. 

Each chapter deals with a different topic, covering just about everything you could wish to know, starting with family, marriage, divorce (exceptionally rare), the extended family, the importance of family meals and gender roles, cherishing heritage and  the value of being bi-lingual, discipline, the importance of life-long learning, punishments and shunning, chores, allowances and the work ethic, technology and quality time, as well as faith related issues such as patience, forgiveness, generosity etc.

Having family members who enjoy your company, treat you as a blessing and a gift from God, who cherish you, love you, admonish you and are not afraid to correct you when necessary, means the world to children, who feel confident, secure and safe in their extended community as a result.
They are regarded as valuable and useful members of the family and community, quite able - and encouraged - to learn skills and work along with the adults at a very young age, to take responsibility for their actions and to share fully in the joys and sorrows of their community; to bring up a child to become a kind and decent godly adult is the priority for Amish parents, and happiness follows on naturally from their parenting process, rather than being seen as a goal in itself.

This is a fascinating book which will appeal to anyone interested in alternative styles of parenting or  the Amish way of life.

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