Monday, November 7, 2016

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting
by Serena Miller

It's been a while since I've done a book review on my blog. It's been a while since I've actually finished a book! I stumbled across this book while doing some new product research for work. I wasn't really looking for parenting books or Amish books at all, but it intrigued me.

I checked it out from the library and read a bit each evening before bed. Within the first few chapters I was hooked. I had a few laughs too as early on in the book the author talks about Amish donuts as well as other businesses they have. My dad was recently raving about these Amish donuts he buys, while my mom rolls her eyes and says she thinks they are just marketing things as Amish to be able to charge more, they aren't really better than other donuts. (Everyone has an opinion right!?)

And then later on in the book she mentions how the Amish are really intentional about spending time with their kids and not trying to do things for themselves while their children demand their attention . . . which is exactly what I was doing while reading this book yesterday!

The author digs deep into an Amish community to try and find out what makes Amish children seem so much happier, more content, and better behaved than a typical American child. She interviews several families and finds that they don't have methods or actual advice to share. Much of their parenting "tricks" are actually just part of their way of life and well behaved, content children are often the result.

For example, they usually live in close proximity to their entire extended family and are used to large family potlucks and gatherings. They learn to let the adults have their meal and conversations in peace and they find ways to amuse themselves quietly. They are also raised with a greater sense of security because of this close bond to family and rarely feel lonely. They also learn to sit through their 3 hour long church services without complaint. Patience is taught young! They are also taught that the child is not more important than anyone else!

It seemed like after each chapter, I would put down the book and think "That is how I want to raise my kids. . . how can I do that?" or in the middle of a chapter I would think "That doesn't seem too off from how I was raised." or "I bet my dad would actually like the Amish culture . . .  and not just the donuts."

Since the parenting style of the Amish people is so heavily based off of who they are, the book also describes a lot of the Amish beliefs and culture other than parenting, but always brought it back to that in the end. I found that really fascinating as I didn't really understand much of that before.

It's broken up into parts: Family, Community, Discipline, Amish Work Ethic, Technology, and Faith. I learned at least one thing from each section (and now I wish I had taken notes!). I think the best way to sum it up is that the Amish place a high value on children and parenting those children to be people of integrity and values. Technology is often seen as hindering the family unit, or taking time away from each other (which is totally true . . . television, facebook, etc.) and all of their decisions are based on how the family will be impacted.

I enjoyed the book and found it helpful in identifying trouble spots in my own parenting as well as giving some ideas to incorporate for a more content, happier family.

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