Curiosities and Challenges about the Amish and my Book
After I arrived and set up my book table, hung the Amish clothes, and booted up my power point, the librarian introduced me. The mixed audience leaned forward and eagerly listened while I showed authentic Amish clothes and shared my story. I detailed my experiences with the "fence jumpers" and about my book, Beyond Buggies and Bonnets: Seven true stories of former Amish.
From the back of the room, a man shot up his hand. After I acknowledged him, he asked, "Why aren't there as many women as guys who leave and stay out?"
"Because - in my experience - the guys are born with a hammer in their hand. They easily find construction work. Some are hired on a farm." I said. "But Amish girls are groomed for childbearing, childcare, cleaning and cooking. Those are low-paying jobs in our society. If the gals can't find one of these jobs - or even if they do - they struggle financially and often return to the Amish where the family or a husband takes care of them."
Then a lady blurted, "Since you help Amish become English, have any of the Amish shunned you?"
Smiling at her misconception I emphasized, "I do not help Amish leave. Those I've met and helped had already made that life-changing decision. Some I met months after they were out."
Then she challenged, "Do the Amish talk to you even though you're depleting their base?"
"Well. . . " I paused and pondered. "When most Amish family consist of 10 or more children, Statistically, there are about 290,000 Amish living in the U.S. I doubt I'm depleting that number by helping those who've left. Birth control is verboten -- that's why most families are large."
I continued to explain that the Amish is a fast-growing population, in fact it doubles every 20 years!
Their attrition rate is a mystery as they don't usually participate in the U.S. Census, nor do Amish parents want to admit that they have kids who've left.
I try to help those I meet after they've left. I do not always get involved with ex-Amish. Some are employed and already have housing when we meet so I offer a warm welcome. There are ex-Amish all over our country and there are other people like me who reach out to help or mentor.
"And," I added, "many ex-Amish help out their friends or family who later leave."
"Your book title is intriguing. Can you explain it?" asked another man.
"The title is a double-entendre," I answered. "I want readers to think of Amish as more than mere buggies and bonnets -- they're a complicated, diverse culture. And I want readers to learn about those who've ventured beyond their buggy and bonnet.
"Have you helped female ex-Amish?" asked a woman.
"Yes, I've had females in my home as well as young men." Adding, "Not at the same time, of course." The audience chuckled and I heard murmurs around the room.
In the front row, a woman slowly raised her hand. I looked at her and she quietly asked, "Have you met ex-Amish who later went back to Amish?"
"Oh yes! I personally know three who left then went back."
"Different reasons. Some couldn't adjust to our lifestyle, others were too homesick. I think some leave because they have this image of the English. Later they discover their disillusionment."
Our hour together sped to an end. I thanked the audience for their attention and questions. "Questions are how we learn," I reminded with a grin.
What about you? What question will help you learn about the ex-Amish or my book? Leave it below in the Comments section.
(C) Brenda Nixon, 2016.