Anne is back with a new piece on her recent visit to her Amish convert son Ed‘s community in Minnesota.
When last we heard from Anne, she was describing why she felt like a wimp living Amish for a few days.
One thing the Amish have in abundance is children. It’s no surprise when they say their children are the only treasure they can take along to heaven.
Anne herself is blessed with two young Amish grandsons. She also had the chance to experience the children of other families in Ed and Ruth’s church.
Today, a few of Anne’s reflections on Amish children, at work and at play.
This morning on one of the morning news shows, the question was asked, “What’s the best age to give children a smart phone?” The answer? Between ages 10-14. I’m sure most of you on this blog would feel the same way I do about that kind of answer.
It struck me that as cultures, we are growing further and further apart, as modern Americans embrace even more complicated technologies, while Amish continue to put value elsewhere.
While we were with our Amish family last month, we had some experiences that put these differences in a clearer light.
One evening we were invited to join another family for dinner. They have a gorgeous log home, and beautiful fields of produce carefully weeded and thriving. Part of the reason all looks so good is that they also have 10 children helping with all the work.
The eldest three are strong and capable girls, ages 21, 19, and 18. We were told that the three of them stripped the logs for the home when it was built, and if you could see them you’d have no trouble believing that, as the definition of “capable” seems to exude from them.
They are followed by several strapping boys who obviously have their fair share of muscle. So it’s no surprise to see the beauty of all this family owns, as they’ve got lots of focused energy to put into it.
When we first arrived at their house I regretted that we had forgotten the infant seat for baby. But after an hour or so of being there it was clear that it would have only been in the way; our little guy was passed from one person to another; everyone, guys too, wanted a chance to cuddle him.
And this continued into the fantastic dinner we had, and later on the walk we enjoyed together. The infant seat was literally never wanted! The walk afterwards was lovely, as we enjoyed their groomed fields as well as the large clouds building overhead.
The family owns a small pony, similar to a Shetland Pony, though not quite the same breed. This little horse had just had a foal that was several weeks old.
Before we knew it, the kids had come up with a plan to entertain the small children by giving pony rides on the foal. The little sister, only 2, was put on its back and all were carefully guided around the field.
Our oldest grandson enjoyed being carried upside down OR on the big boy’s shoulders. And there was a game of “hide and seek” in the corn patch. Everyone was having a merry time on a beautiful evening, and for us it was a delight to see.
Keep in mind that these kids had ALSO just had a very full day. They had worked early and all day and then had extra chores as they prepared for our visit. None of them had digital devices; no one was slinking off to a corner to text or email a faraway friend, check out the latest pop music or play a video game.
Instead, these kids were closely connected with those immediately around them. It’s rare in our culture that young people know the value or satisfaction of good work.
Central to raising children seems to be the value of “entertainment”. But not so here; these kids work hard and play hard and the differences between our two cultures was in stark relief to me.
I noted that our first born grandson, only 22 months old, had a habit of following his dad around the fields to watch him work or hold a tool when needed.
Later, we received his help with dishes; from his spot perched on a chair he specialized in getting the silverware out of the rinse water into the proper place on the dish drainer.
I expected this to be a short-lived fun filled time for him to splash in the water and, in short, create more mess than he actually helped with. But it wasn’t so. He did his work seriously, but it was also clear he enjoyed it.
Another time, he took it upon himself to keep little brother entertained, as you can see from the next picture.
He made up a game where he would sit down (facing away) on the edge of the infant seat, tipping it way forward. Then he’d hop up, sending the seat rocking backwards!
Baby thought this terrific fun, lots of loud laughter coming from this 4.5 month old! Both boys were giggling away! And I was amazed to note that my not-yet- two year old grandson was already taking it upon himself to care for someone younger and more tender.
There are obvious differences between our cultures; how we dress, how we deal with church issues, how we get around, and lots more. But one of the more important things is the view of children and work.
For our Amish friends, the natural world is real, work is significant and relationships are critical. Though I’m not ready to become Amish, they certainly have wisdom modern culture has lost.
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Thank you, Anne.
Phone technology in these days has ruined many things about modern culture and I am certain has caused more than one accident by not paying attention to what is actually important, over and above ruining real social activities.
You have an adorable grandson, who wouldn’t cuddle that little guy!
Thanks Anne for the pictures and srories. Its a good point you make in comparing the differences, between a modern virtual world and the real world. I believe the Amish have chosen the better way!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!
I Think Anne Has Gotten It Right
The timing of this article is ironic; only last night I was complaining,via Facebook, that I didn’t see all that much value in so many of our modern “conveniences”. That I thought many of these things only added stress and frustration to our already overtaxed lives! And more importantly they kept us a distance from each other in ways and were impersonal, even when they were a means of communication, like the social media networks. This has a lot to do with having received an iPad as a gift very recently, I felt better when I wasn’t quite as connected. I should feel grateful, but I actually feel rather under assault by having and being so accessible and instantaneously connected to everything and everyone! And the worst part, it seems so impersonal and really removed from anything like a human touch. Not sure how I’ll solve this conflict between myself and technology, but I do know that Anne is onto something and that her observances of a better connected life have nothing to do with the many gadgets and gizmos which “connect” people today!
Thanks for sharing these pictures, Anne. Your perspective is so unique and interesting. Those grandsons are just darling!
Thank you for sharing this very interesting story and all the pictures with us.
I love the article… It’s so true how glue we are on the phones and tablets. I like and love the Amish life style. Earlier this summer I took a vacation and I brought my phone just in case but I had it shut off so I could enjoy time with my husband and enjoyed not using it at all. I think we can all learn something from Amish as we get more and more electronics.
Thank you for this post
Of late, I have been yearning for new this and that, better stuff. This post came at just the right time for me. It is a beautiful reminder of what is important. Thank you, Anne !
Loved reading your account of time spent with your Amish family members. A lot of it rings true for my Hutterite life as well, we also see the value of multi-generations spending quality time together, working, playing, worshiping, eating… And like you, we’re concerned with so much technology around, as it does steal so much of that quality family and communal time.Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing with us
Anne, You have a keen eye for detail, a warm heart, and a wonderful way of sharing your experiences and insights. The photos are also beautiful. Your contribution today was a blessing. Rich and Polly Stevick
Thank you Anne. That’s one thing I couldn’t help but notice in my several brief visits to the Amish area of Ethridge Tennessee – I never heard a child whine or cry (actually, I did hear a baby cry once and he was immediately tended to and calmed by a horde of older children on the porch); I always heard lots of children laughing.
I hear stories from our cities about Child Protection Services investigating parents for allowing their children to play outside without close adult supervision and am dismayed that we are sending that sort of message to children – that they are incapable of doing anything on their own, and that they SHOULD be inside, presumably looking at screens. Amish children, and in fact numerous farm children and others, are minding the shop, taking care of young siblings, taking responsibility for animals and food production and all sorts of things before they hit puberty, as indeed they should be.
I really appreciate that you all are thinking about these issues and trying to consider how they affect your lives. Our Amish friends would applaud! And it’s great to be able to share these experiences with those who care and know something of this way of life.
Loved reading this! Thank you for sharing your sweet experiences with us!
Very good piece. Amish culture synthesizes a God order world view, family, nature, simplicity, hard work, and sacrifice of self. Your son is wise beyond his years. Where your time, talent, and treasure is, so is a mans heart. Thank you for sharing.
I enjoy your reports and family updates so much. I do wish there was a law that children and young people could not own or operate IPads or IPhones so they appreciate work, reading and play again.
Thank you for a beautiful post, Anne.
Technology has made for an ironic twist in our family. We do not have any e-gadgets, and the current plan is to go internet free once our 10 and 9 year old computers die.
My (60+ year old) parents, on the other hand, have gotten “hooked” on their gadgets. When our son was born seven years ago, my dad said he couldn’t wait to retire and help raise his grandchildren. Enter, digital devices. Now he is generally too distracted by the ipad to focus on his three grandchildren for long. The really sad thing is that for his career he did fine wood and metal work by hand, carving, forging, engraving, etc, with no power tools. What skills he possesses that could be handed down! But he seems to have lost interest in that to a large degree. I think electronic entertainment, even when considered a “tool,” is addictive and leads to sin (and no one has ever accused me of
being opinionated ; ).
It is VERY interesting to me that you told this story about your dad; his former “craftsman” type occupation vs. his current fixation on “technology”. I am almost just the opposite; my job is ALL technology driven … I have 5 (five) 24” computer monitors, one 40” monitor and a 20” monitor on my desk at work. All of the screens are capable of displaying any one of twenty two different standard displays each with anywhere from several, several dozen to over a hundred data points captured.
Over the past 30 years my job has evolved to include more and more computer power and less and less interaction with our technicians out in the field. Is it any wonder that I enjoy it a fraction of what I did when I first started out in this industry? I literally can’t wait to get away from all of this stuff every day that I am at work. I often say that my worst day working with my two big girls, my two Percheron draft horses, beats the heck out of my best day of work. So I am heading in the opposite direction of your dad.
Where this really ties in to the story you told, though, is that a hobby that I once enjoyed very much (remodeling century old houses, barns or restoring and reconditioning antique farm equipment, much as is the case with Mr. Rudy Gingerich in the story posted to AA on the 24th of September) is one that requires more than just a little touch of craftsmanship. For years I have been “too busy” to do that sort of thing, though. Recently I have come to the conclusion that if I am too busy to enjoy my free time; I am too busy … period. I want to get back into restoring old farm equipment, making some needed repairs and upgrades to our soon to be 100 year old house and just enjoying more of a “non high-tech” personal life.
I have friends that constantly chide me with “I can’t believe that you are NOT on Facebook” or “Why don’t you use Twitter?” I was actually considering including one or both of those in my online activities. I think you just reminded me of why that would not be such a good idea. Not that I think that either of those is a bad thing in and of themselves. In fact, they might actually be “good” things. I just don’t want to let those “good” things get in the way of the “best” things in my life; relationships, personal satisfaction, spiritual and educational growth, etc.
I will pray that your mom and dad come to realize that the path they have chosen isn’t necessarily the “best” one that they could have taken. Thanks for making that post; I needed it.
Thank you Anne for sharing 🙂
Anne, thanks for the cutest post I’ve read in a long while. Somehow or another I missed out on knowing there was a second grandson. I think I remember hearing that Ruth was expecting the second time. Your grandsons playing together delighted me and brightened a very dreary day in MO. Please, when appropriate, thank Ed & Ruth for allowing you to share themselves with us.
Naomi, I think somebody needs to hide your dad’s gadgets when he is visiting his grandkids. 😉 Even though I don’t have any, I do know that grandkids are much better entertainment than TV or electronic games played alone.
Thank you, Anne, for sharing such valuable insight with us! Your grandchildren are absolutely beautiful!
Anne, you have a unique perspective that only someone who has an inside view of an Amish family can have. I agree… the contrast in values between the Amish and the mainstream culture are quite stark. So much of me is still Amish, especially when it comes to my reticence to adopt new technologies into my life. I keep asking myself if that would simplify my life or complicate it. If the latter, I tend to abstain from the buying it or adopting it.
I noticed your grandson is in transition from wearing the dresses to wearing pants. In many of the less traditional Amish, the tendency is to dress the boys in pants earlier… sometimes as early as 6 months. But dresses make it easier to change diapers, and that is where the tradition came from. (This was true even in the mainstream culture until the early 1900s.)
dresses vs pants
Hi Saloma and thanks for your thoughts. You are probably one of the best ones out there to help the rest of us “English” maneuver the confusing world of technology we live in.
As for the “dress” my grandsons wear, I’ve thought how hard it is to crawl in them. When Ruth set her little one down in the field while she picked veggies, he stayed put. It would have been very inconvenient if he was too mobile. So I wondered if that was also a reason. I even worried about this lack of crawling stage, as I’ve heard it’s critical for left/right handedness, etc. But it certainly hasn’t slowed down the older one, who went straight from sitting to walking!
Thank you for the wonderful pictures, just for me to see those pictures makes me happy, because they remind my of good times I share with my Amish friends in Middlebury Indiana, as some may remember I always talk about wanting to live there, well the time has come, I will have pictures like these in my sight every day. THANK YOU AGAIN.
I enjoyed that greatly!
What a nice post to read! Is Ed’s health improving?
Great Story !
Ann, thanks for the GREAT pictures and a very entertaining well written story, I totally enjoyed reading it ! Looking forward to your next contribution !
It’s been fun to read all your thoughts/responses today, and I’m sorry I was not responsive yesterday. It was a very busy day with cooking a meal for our church’s Agape dinner, about 40 people.
Mark asked about Ed’s health, and I regret to say I don’t know too much of late. When we saw them this summer he was a notch better than last winter. It’s discouraging that his improvement is taking so long, but at least he IS improving. He’s avoiding all gluten now and thinks it can take a long time to get the digestive system calmed down after going off gluten. I think there is something else going on, as it seems to me 7 months of gluten free diet should be making a difference by now. He’s pursuing more testing from a lab in TX that sends lab tests to the patient and does it all by mail. I think lactose intolerance was going to be checked next. If you all think of this please pray for him. He’s 30 now and should be at the peak of his strength. Instead he’s dealt with great fatigue, depression, and listlessness. He has gained a little weight though which is encouraging (from a low of 110, he was up to 117 when we were there). And Mark, I think that’s why he didn’t write to you. He said there were many days last winter he just sat on the couch and prayed to get through the day…it was a very hard time for him, barely able to do the least little bit required just for survival.
Again, thank you all for your interest in our little family. I know they are grateful that you want to share a bit in their lives, as their goal is to be used of God in whatever way He sees fit; and, as many of you have pointed out, the example of the Amish is an encouragement to all of us, at least in some of the more important areas of life.
Thank-you for the update, Ann. I’m sorry to hear Ed is still struggling with his health and we will continue to keep him and the family in our prayers. I hope Ed can get to the root of his health problems so he can enjoy good health & spirits. It would be very hard to feel so tired and sick all the time.
I think it might have been Mark Curtis who had provided an address for Ed, as Mark Curtis joined the Amish in another community in Ohio.
Blessings to you & yours, Ann.
Thanks for sharing. It was like a breath of fresh air. I admire their way of life so much…not just because of their “gadget free” ways but because all is done for the glory of God. Imagine if all of us “Englishers” had those same intentions everyday…what a different world it would be. God first, others second and ourselves last.
Thanks Anne, for sharing the pictures and stories. It brought back many good memories of growing up on a small family farm in Minnesota in the 50’s and 60’s when small family farms were still plentiful. Though we were not Amish, we spent much time doing the types of things you enjoyed with Ed and Ruth — having dinner at neighbors’ houses, walking around their farms looking at the fields and gardens, and as kids, creating our own recreation right there on the farm. One reason I respect some aspects of Amish life is because at least some of them are continuing those good things about rural living that we are losing as farms become larger and larger and new technology is not always evaluated before it becomes part of rural life.
thanks for sharing
It is great pleasure for me to read the posts about your
son and his family. It gives an intimate inside view in the Amish livestyle, because it is told from the first hand. Especially your
last post about the visit. To my opinion your analysis that the values for normal work and human relations are very important for the Amish, should be a lesson for us. Back to the basics.
My first acquaintance with the Amish was the news of the horrible Nickelmine shooting. The moment the shooter was buried the number of present Amish people was so contradictory with your first feeling.
My thinking was at a later moment: they are the people who understand
the gospels real.
Anne, thanks a lot for your postings and please continue…
Kind regards from the Netherlands, Frans Assenberg
Oh, how your grandsons are adorable! Thank you so much for sharing this, not just the great pictures of the farm and families, but also the great story. It’s wonderful and a real eye-opener to see how our two cultures are really, really different.
And about the cell phone at age 10-14: way too young. My first cell phone was when I was 16 and even then I didn’t have a real use for it except for emergencies.
Again, great story. Thanks so much for sharing. Hope to see more posts by you in the future.
The Amish are an amazing people/culture! Wish we English were more like them. 🙂
I have lurked here a long time and must say, I love posts from Anne! This is a situation you don’t often think of, so it’s great to see it covered. And by family, in such a loving way!
I know I’m “new” here, but I hope sincerely Ed gets his medical issues figured out and taken care of as well.
And thank you, Erik for this wonderful page! 🙂
I, too, wish for Ed to get his medical issues dealt with. Being part of a support group is probably not something the Amish would consider, but it is wonderful to be able to share knowledge with others dealing with the same issues. The gluten intolerance is a very difficult problem to live with and there’s so much more to it than just “not eating bread.”
Seems like I recall Anne mentioning Ruth’s dental problems, too, and I certainly hope some of those have been addressed.
Hello Everyone, and thanks again for your interest in our family. It’s all such new ground for us and we hope to deal with issues that arise in a loving & measured way. It’s great to have so many of you who are interested and supportive. Just wanted to say thanks!
And Jess, welcome to the blog! It’s diverse and interesting no matter the subject and we hope to hear your perspective as things go along.
About a decade ago I was on my way to joining the Amish. It sadly didn’t work out. The earlier photos of your son and family, they appeared to be in a more conservative group than now. Did they change group. Thanks for the fascinating account of your sons new life.
I think it’s very hard to join the Amish as you have to have means on your own to make it work, even in a physical/financial way. But you asked if my son had changed groups and the answer is no. Actually, the group he first joined liberalized, so he moved to another conservative group in MN, where others who left his first group also went. They actually started this group there and it’s still pretty small. Hope this helps!
Anna, thank you for your response. The group I am most familiar with is the grey buggy who originated out of Lancaster. This particular settlement, with a few exceptions are a pretty cold lot. This settlement already had one convert. I still have a few friends in this settlement. I hope your son and family are doing well.