Amish communities are followers of Jesus Christ. They live without the technological apparatuses of the modern world in communities separated from non-Amish groups. Children born into Amish cultures don't watch television or play video games, but instead they are raised to be obedient and hard-working without a lot of free time or play. The Amish way isn't necessarily better or worse than the more traditional way of raising infants, and the culture has much to offer the rest of the world in terms of raising responsible adults.
It Takes a Village
One of the cornerstones of the Amish culture and raising children is the mentality that it takes a village to get the job done right. Amish communities tend to be close-knit groups of people, so parents are surrounded by family members and friends who are willing to pitch in and help watch the children. Donald B. Kraybill, author of "The Riddle of Amish Culture," reports that parents also raise their infants without the use of books and other educational materials. That's because Amish mothers, especially new mothers, tend to rely on their elders, friends and family members to teach them how to be effective parents.
Obviously, Amish infants don't attend school and aren't given daily lessons on reading, writing and math, but that doesn't mean they are left out of learning. Even before an Amish child is old enough to start schooling, his parents begin guiding his behavior so he learns humbleness, gentleness, self-control, meekness and anger management. According to the "Amish Country News," parents take their role as teachers seriously and model appropriate behavior from birth. The purpose of such a child-rearing strategy is to teach children from a very early age how to behave appropriately. In terms of formal schooling, Amish children attend one or two-room school houses and finish their education at the eighth grade. Some Amish parents do home-schooling, too.
Amish children are expected to be meek, obedient and humble. Kraybill, who also wrote "The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World," reports that these top the list of expectations for Amish children, which can be quite different than the way parents raise their children in the rest of the world. In fact, the Amish practice obedience-training for children because they believe that it's one of the ways they secure a place in heaven for their child. Amish parents use spankings, too. They don't spank tiny infants, but begin spankings at about 2 years of age, according to Kraybill. The use of spankings is thought to deter disobedience and encourage Amish youngsters to obey the rules of the culture. Younger children are constantly redirected by parents and other adults if they disobey.
Amish parents don't discipline their children when they're angry. Instead, they wait until the anger has passed before guiding their child's behavior, according to Kraybill. Amish parents believe that their discipline strategies, including spanking and other physical punishments, should be done in a loving and respectful way. The ultimate goal for bringing up Amish infants through childhood and into adulthood is to raise happy, healthy, respectful and obedient people.