One day, a lady asked our group the question about how Amish parents discipline their children. Well, that's a loaded question! There was a firestorm of answers and stories.
Each order has different behaviors and group norms. Each family within an order has different ways to discipline. Some Ordnungs dictate how parents discipline while others don't address the subject.
A reasonable person cannot generalize Amish as great parents and suggest emulating their family values. Neither can a fair person say all Amish are negligent parents.
For seventeen years, I earned my living as a parenting "expert" speaking and writing to audiences. I've often coached parents with,
- There's no one right way to discipline.
- Different kids need different discipline.
- Kids feel loved when parents take time to set rules, boundaries, and limitations.
- The best parenting is a balance of rules and relationship.
One ex-Amish man shared about his father who tied him to a fence post and beat him until the blood ran down his leg. And his mother, upon hearing him say a bad word, responded by kicking him in the groin! He didn't tell us his order.
After several answers to her question, this lady replied, "I'm pleased to hear from the ones who have positive things to say about their parents..."
Hear only positive things? Guess she won't read my good pal Kathi Macias' book Deliver Me From Evil about human trafficking or my friend Mary DeMuth who wrote of her childhood abuse in Thin Places.
Sadly, it happens and it's reality for some!
On this lady's behalf I'll confess, I didn't watch Schindler's List because it's so tragic and true. Nor did I watch any version of Titanic because, well, I know what happens at the end. I'm a compassionate, empathetic human and reading more about - or sitting for hours to watch - these disturbing, inhumane stories bothers me. For days. Sometime weeks!
It bothers me to know, hear stories, witness some Amish parents within the conservative Swartzentruber Order shun, beat, and belittle their children. Ignore birthdays. It crushes me to think that parents would mistreat their children - impressionable people - in such disrespectful ways.
But it happens in Amish homes!
Our son-in-law Harvey is constantly sent mixed messages. First, his parents are nice to him when he visits the family farm. Then they refuse to include him in family weddings or reunions. His father - an Amish bishop - once told him, "I wish you hadn't been born." How do you get over that?
Sarah and Monroe's parents sent letters telling them they're not allowed home, unless they stay Amish. The Letter may be common among other Amish orders but, my experience is with Swartzentruber and some Old Order Amish (OOA).
Noah was repeatedly beaten with a buggy whip. Mosie with the rubber belt from an alternator.
Uriah's dad burned his English-language Bible and told to stop talking to his siblings after he became a Christian. When he left the Amish, Uriah slept alone in a barn until he could locate cheap housing.
Dan's mother repeatedly burned his store-bought underwear. It was English. His Ordnung dictated the only "right" underwear and Dan sinned by buying convenient under garments.
I pray for, love, and encourage those brought across my path. Many have emotional bruises. Some function by suppressing their anger. Others act it out. Some survive by trying to forget.
And to those I don't know or will never meet, I pray that someone will stand in the gap to help! I don't know but, many Amish NOW may be in emotional, verbal, or sexual bondage at home. God holds me responsible only for what I know - or choose to acknowledge - and how I respond.
So I'll give grace to this woman who may be sensitive and empathetic, albeit in denial.
There is ugliness in our world, and in the Amish world, too. To turn a blind eye to it and only want your eyes pleasured with romantic images is, as the Bible says, "sin." (James 4:17)
- If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them. (NIV)
- Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (NLT)
- So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (ESV)
(C)Copyright, 2014. Brenda Nixon.