What is it Like Growing up Amish?
Do you ever wonder what life is like for Amish children growing up on a farm?
It certainly is vastly different from what most of our world is used to today. There's no TV and no technology to get addicted to. Not a lot of toys, just a few dolls and cooking toys, or animal & farm toys, etc., and a great big imagination.
Amish Children's Toys
Some Amish kids have more toys than others. I didn't have many toys when I was young, but we had smaller versions of things our parents used every day. We liked pretending to do the same activities as our parents, like farming and being a mom with tiny babies.
We had farm toys, such as tractors, wagons, plows, lots of farm animals, etc. And I had a miniature kitchen set, including a china hutch that my dad built for me, lots of toy dishes, dolls with clothing and blankets, etc.
Some Amish girls have faceless dolls. But we had regular cute little dolls with faces and hair.
Memories of Growing Up Amish
Some of my first memories of growing up on the farm are of playing with baby kittens. We took some of our doll clothes and dressed up the little kittens, pretending they were our babies, and we were taking them to church.
We played in the haymow, moving bales around to set up a house.
There was never a lack of something to entertain ourselves with, and I do not remember ever being bored.
I grew up New Order Amish, so we had bikes to ride (the Old Order are only allowed to ride scooters), and we had an express wagon. I remember riding around on our wagon, using one leg off the side to make it go.
Our driveway blacktop was getting broken up, but we had paths here and there, so I pretended my wagon was a car. And I was a taxi driver going around and picking up passengers.
I grew up with nine siblings, so of course, I always had playmates. And as soon as we were old enough to be of help in any way, we were given chores to be responsible for.
Amish Children and Chores on the Farm
My mom was very tidy. And even though we lived on a farm (and I had seven brothers) our house was kept relatively clean. My first chore in helping to clean the house was to wash the kitchen cabinets and dining room chairs.
There was always time for exploring around the farm, playing in the creek, or with the animals. But we were taught that chores had to be done first.
We had a little over one hundred acres, around fifty dairy cows, horses, chickens, and pigs, along with plenty of dogs and cats. And, of course, a huge vegetable garden. So there were plenty of chores for everyone to be involved in.
Bottle feeding the baby calves and gathering the chickens' eggs were considered the easy chores that were left for the younger members of the family to take care of. So at a very young age, we were taught to be responsible and work hard.
We always had extra eggs and fresh produce that we sold to neighbors around us. There was always lots of work on our Amish farm, and as the saying goes "Many hands make light work". Everyone had to do their share of the work.
Amish Farmers (Amish are Hard Workers)
Years ago most of the Amish were farmers of some sort (mostly dairy or produce farmers). It was believed that a farm was the best place to raise a family, with everyone working together and living off the land.
But today a lot of them have started other trades. As it is getting harder in our modern times, to make a living on a farm, with the high prices on land, taxes, etc.
You don't have to be around the Amish for very long to notice that they have good work ethics. They're typically responsible, honest, hard workers. And I think that's largely due to the fact that they're taught to work at a young age.
Amish School Children
Most Amish children go to small one-room parochial schools in their church district with a teenage girl from the church as their teacher. They start first grade around age six and only go to eighth grade. The Amish believe that's enough education because it's more important to learn a trade and do physical work.
Girls need to stay home and help their mothers with all the household chores, learn how to cook, sew, garden, and preserve the food that's harvested. While the boys work with their father and learn all the secrets of farming.
Amish Have Strict Discipline Standards
Amish children are usually very sheltered from the outside world. And I would dare to say that most of them have a fairly happy childhood. (Sadly, there are a few of them who grow up in abusive homes - probably more than I care to admit, but I'd say the majority have a stable home life.)
Even though their parents have very strict standards for them, and expect prompt and cheerful obedience, there is some security in knowing exactly what is expected of you.
My childhood memories are definitely not all good ones. My dad was a strict disciplinarian, and I didn't like him very much.
But I also have pleasant memories of growing up Amish. We were taught to be responsible and work hard without complaining. But we also had lots of good clean fun!
And I always knew that my parents loved me, even though they never told me so (typically the Amish do not show much affection), and I don't remember ever being complimented for a job well done. It was just expected that we do a good job. And I don't think I ever thought anything about it or expected a compliment. Just the feeling of knowing I did my best was good enough.
I feel like I had a fairly normal childhood as an Amish kid growing up on a farm. Obviously, it was very different from how most kids grow up today. But it was more like most kids grew up a hundred years ago.
And that's because the Amish still live more like everyone did in the 1800s.
I hope you enjoyed this article about Amish children and what it was like to grow up Amish. Subscribe to my blog to keep up with my story and get some good Amish recipes.