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Amish Values for Your Family Review by Kathy GelzerSuzanne Woods Fisher
P.O. Box 6287
Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
There is almost a mystique about the Amish community. I believe most people respect them, but think they are a little odd. Nobody, however, can say anything against their family values. The Amish “maintain one of the strongest and most stable family systems in America.” They have a markedly lower occurrence of mental and physical disease, and close to zero percent divorce rate. In Amish Values for Your Family, curious readers can learn about the Amish family practices, and hopefully come away with some practical tools to apply to their own families.
This book of wisdom is divided into four sections. Each section contains about ten short chapters—stories or anecdotes that help to illustrate the values of the Amish, as they apply to the section topic. Every chapter begins with an Amish proverb, and ends with application ideas and Amish quotes.
The first section on parenting young children called, Children Are Loved but Not Adored, tells how “Amish parents believe a child belongs to God, not to them. Such a perspective allows parents to raise their children with clear boundaries and a healthy detachment. Hoped for, wanted, loved . . . but not adored. As a result, children are always involved in the life of the family—but it does not revolve around them.”
The second section of the book, entitled Great Expectations, discusses the Amish “life-long work ethic” and how, from an early age, Amish children are expected to help out on the farm and with household chores, as part of the family unit.
An “interlude” follows this second section: A Year in an Amish Family. Seasonal rhythms on an Amish farm are written in a personal essay format. This part of the book was a little disappointing to me. I was hoping for more of a “fly on the wall” peek into Amish daily life through the year. Instead, the focus was on farming rather than family.
Daily Bread, the third section of the book, refers to the integral part Bible reading and prayer play in the daily lives of the Amish. Morning Bible reading, weekly church service, and frequent and regular daily prayer times mark the calendars of the Amish. Perhaps equally important, “schooling that affirms the home’s beliefs and a community that upholds God’s ways” is part of the Amish lifestyle.
The fourth and last section, Letting Go, describes parenting during the teen years and into adulthood. The epilogue is the author’s narrative of “An Evening of Trivial Pursuit with the Amish,” where several families gather for a game night which includes simple, tasty snacks and, most significantly, a kind and non-competitive atmosphere.
Amish Values for Your Family makes for easy, enjoyable reading, at the same time giving one plenty to reflect on. I think any mother would love this book. It would also make good material for a book group, Bible study, or young moms’ class