Parenthing without technology

The Amish are known for their simple living, not watching TV or using the internet, wearing plainclothes, riding in horse carriages and being very religious. It looks like they live a more primitive lifestyle than their surrounding cultures. It also looks like they got stuck in the past,
but it seems they still live very happily.

The lack of modern technology in their lives makes them more connected to nature and more connected to each other. One of the main reasons why most Amish don’t allow television, computers and cell phones in their homes is because they believe that owning these items can cause enormous damage to the family unit. In their opinion, technology distracts parents from being focused on raising and teaching their kids properly.

It looks like the modern world has a lot to learn from Amish people, especially about the way they raise their kids. I came to that conclusion by reading More than Happy – The Wisdom of Amish Parenting (S. B. Miller, P. Stutzman); a book based on the experience of the author who actually lived with the Amish for a while. This book is a source of inspiration and Amish parenting could be very helpful to the rest of us.

1. Amish children let their parents have a coffee

Believe or not, Amish parents can have a relaxing and nice time together while their children are playing and laughing in another room without the children fighting, whining or complaining about something to their parents. They are just playing. It sounds like science fiction to most modern parents who are being often distracted by children who don’t get along well with one another and constantly interrupt them with questions and requirements.

Photo by YouTube: Amish children at family farm days

2. Amish children eat whatever their parents give them

It seems that Amish parents can hardly imagine that their children might refuse to eat the good food they are given because they just eat everything: fruits, vegetables, grains, and all. The parents seem to take for granted that their children willingly accept the food placed in front of them. There is no fanfare or discussion about food that is often the case with children in many other parts of the world.

3. Amish family eat all together at least once a day

While in the modern world, families hardly see each other during the working day and have lunch together mostly on Sundays only, Amish people find that it is very important that family eat together. As one Amish mother said, “As the children get older, schedules change and we’re not able to have every meal together, but we try to make sure to have at least one meal together each day where everyone is present. If we don’t … things just don’t feel right to me.”

4. Amish parents involve the kids in harvesting and preparing food

Many kids nowadays think that bananas and zucchini are grown in supermarkets. Amish children are very involved in the harvesting of fruit and vegetables and the preparation of food. It makes them much more likely to taste and accept new foods when they understand how it is grown. We don’t need to have a big garden; just growing a tomato in some box on
the balcony can pique a child’s interest. If children experience how to grow real food and get acquainted with elementary tastes from an early age, they won’t as easily lean towards the highly processed junk food that they see in commercials. Even if they do try it, they will always know they have something wholesome and real to come back to.

Life is full of surprises!

5. Amish children don’t have snacks between meals

Amish children are not used to snacking between meals, and surprise, surprise! When it’s time to have lunch, they are mostly hungry and have a good appetite. I wouldn’t call it wise, it is just about common sense. Maybe the difficulties so many modern parents have in getting their children to eat at meal times could be helped by intentionally making snacks inaccessible, and by encouraging their children to work up their appetites by doing outdoor activities, like taking a long walk or playing.

6. Amish children don’t watch TV and play video games

Instead of watching TV and playing video games for hours, Amish children do something that is normal for kids to do; they play outdoors. The lack of television and access to video games makes the children more physically active as a result. Research has proven that television commercials have a much greater effect on children’s food choices than do their parents’ preferences or suggestions. The enthusiasm that Amish children show for whole foods might also have a lot to do with the fact that they are not influenced by junk food advertisements on TV commercials because they simply don’t watch any.

7. Amish grandparents are like all grandparents

Amish grandparents break the traditional Amish lifestyle a little and become just like all other grandparents in the world by giving their grandchildren treats when they come to visit. Potato chips, chocolates, and cookies are available in the homes of grandparents, but it seems that
Amish parents are okay with that, saying, “They are grandparents! At that point, there is no difference between our lifestyle and theirs.”

8. Amish people don’t have virtual relationships

Amish parents don’t have Facebook or Instagram friends because they prefer to meet in person and not virtually. The lack of television and internet free up a lot of time to build relations with family and friends. They know that there are no shortcuts to investing the time that is necessary to build healthy relationships. They believe that the presence of good people in your life can have an enormously positive impact on children. To them, it is important to be surrounded by people sharing their common values.

9. Amish parents never argue in front of their kids

Amish parents are very careful about the way they speak to each other in front of their kids. If spouses speak to each other with a negative tone, they can expect their children to do the same one day. It is better to solve problems with your spouse away from your children or with a professional counselor than to expose your kids to arguments and negativity. Amish people do have a sense of humor, but they don’t use it to humiliate someone. Put-downs between parents and between siblings aren’t funny – it is considered unacceptable behaviour.

10. Amish parents raise altruistic kids

Amish people teach their children from an early age that while their needs and wishes are important, they are not the center of the universe and therefore not more important than others. They do not want to reduce their individuality, but rather be responsive to the needs of the community. They teach their children to help and give to others, such as taking a meal to a
neighbour or family in need.

11. Discipline is about love

Amish parents believe that children need rules and structure in their life. They say that discipline is an expression of love because allowing children to do whatever they like has long-term negative consequences. They teach their children to wait and be patient, so it is rare to see little Amish children screaming in the supermarket when they don’t get a toy or ice cream. If Amish child is not behaving properly, parents know that they need to spend more time with him.

12. The practice of forgiveness

One of the most special things about Amish people is a culture of forgiveness. They believe that all can be forgiven as long as the person asking for forgiveness truly turns away from their sinful ways. They practice forgiveness in everyday life – toward themselves and to everyone
who hurts them.

Let be Amish for a week

We don’t have to convert to Amish for a life long, but we could be Amish maybe for a week. Go somewhere in nature far from modern technology, listen to the sound of silence, and spend time with each other without common technological distractions. Living like an Amish for a week sounds like a real challenge for the modern family. Let me know if you try it.