Don't Ask Me about the Amish!

I invited our former-Amish son-in-law Harvey to accompany me on a speaking engagement. He's a valid resource. Maybe I could defer an audience question to him.

"No!" he protested. "They'll put me in the question box."

I smiled. Understood. Dropped it. Many former Amish do not reveal their upbringing because they'll be cocooned in questions. Curiosity. Same interrogation.

It's not that they don't embrace their heritage. But most want to be accepted and blend into the new world they chose.

Some former Amish, I know, hang onto this identity. They're stuck in a netherworld of neither fully Amish nor fully English. Enjoying the identity. Circulate within a circle of former Amish. Maintain Amish behaviors. Attitudes. Dress English.

Not Harvey. Never regrets his decision to leave. Has adapted to his new life. Moved on. Loves football. Loves to travel. Works with English. Avoids redundant questions about his growing-up life. Don't tell him but, I still detect a bit of Deutch accent. That just endears him to our family.

I was guilty of endless questions the first time I met the "X-Men" - a name my daughters used referring to a group of former Amish friends. I suffocated them with my curiosity. Andy. Uriah. Dan. Harvey. Mosie, and others. Thankfully, they patiently and calmly answered this writer - and mom's - need to know.

Today, I get it. The tiresome - innocent - questions.
  • Are you on Rumspringa?
  • How many kids in your family? 
  • Why'd you leave? 
  • Are you shunned? 
  • What work does your father do? 
  • Are you the only one in the family who left? 
  • Do your parents know where you are? 
  • You have a job? 
  • Can you put on a roof for me? 
  • Got a car? And to the females, 
    • Do you clean houses?
After living with us a few weeks, we thought Monroe would enjoy going to church teen activities. His first time being with those teens resulted in a surprised relief. "They treated me like any other guy, because they didn't know I was Amish."

Question: How do you act when meeting someone who lived and left the Amish life?

(c)Copyright, 2015. Brenda Nixon.


  1. Thank-you! I don't want the fact that I was raised Amish be my identity for the remainder of my life. I prefer to not let people know about it, the public's fascination with all things Amish gets tiresome to me.

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving your comments. You help others to know your perspective. Best wishes as you continue to grow in your new life. And I won't ask your name, LOL

  2. I can imagine how that can be tiresome.. I belong to a CSA group that consists mostly of Amish farmers & families.. Only one time did I ever directly ask them anything about their Amish lives and that was just to confirm that they were indeed Old Order Amish.. I think unless you're good friends with someone, asking personal questions are quite rude. I dont know any ex Amish.

    1. Hey Kimberly, it's acceptable to ask an Amish which order they are in. It'd be like me asking you what state you live in - pretty safe question. Since I've had several former-Amish friends through my home, I'd had the privilege to ask questions. You'll see in my upcoming book (May) that I've had rare opportunity to ask the personal question but, only because I'd earned the right ;-)