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Amish on “Spanking”

January 27, 2011

I have enjoyed reading two books on the Amish in the past two years. The first was Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. The second is The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World. Both of these books were written by three men: Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher, who though not Amish themselves do understand them well.

I am not sure why I am fascinated with the Amish way of life. Perhaps it is because there is a small Amish community near to where I was raised in Michigan. Seeing them in their horse-drawn carriages and their plain consistently same clothes made me wonder what life really was like for them. I wondered how I would fare in such a lifestyle. I wondered the joys and hardships, the freedoms and difficulties Amish life brings.

In reading these books, I have gotten a better sense of their life and the indispensable role the Christian faith plays in their lives. At the center of Amish living is their understanding of Christ and the Church.

Recently I read a section on spanking and how the Amish few the correction and chastisement of their children. The authors write:

One spring morning we visited with Hannah, a mother of seven. Having just cleaned up from weeding the garden, she invited us into her living room, where we talked about child rearing. We told her that some of our friends who are dentists, nurses, and doctors say that, compared to many non-Amish children they encounter, Amish offspring are quiet, well mannered, and well behaved. “Why might that be?” we asked. Without hesitation or a trace of humor, Hanna responded, “Oh, it’s the spanking that makes them so nice.”

Hannah explained that, when children are about two years old, their wills need to be broken. If it’s not done at that stage, she said, they will likely become disobedient and rebellious adults. The spanking helps correct them and “make them nice.” Another mother explained that when children are old enough to fold their hands at prayer time, they are also old enough to be reprimanded with light spanks when disobedient…

Parents are quick to say, however, that spanking and other forms of physical discipline must never be done in anger or frustration. “Is there a wrong time to punish a child?” ask one Amish handbook on the Christian life. “Yes, when you are angry, [so] unless it hurts you more than the child, stop at once until you can discipline in a spirit of love.” The child should understand the reason for discipline, too, so that “punishment ends on a happy note, sweet, and forgiving,” says Naomi, a mother writing about discipline. Because correction ultimately “leads to happiness…[discipline] must be the result of our love for the child’s happiness, both now and in the hereafter.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dieter permalink
    July 24, 2011 2:31 pm

    The Amish are such wonderful, peaceful and ecological people, they´re representing the paradise at the end of the time just here on earth. How could they err? Their life is biblical and spanking children as a part of their family life is biblical too. If all people of the world would live as the Amish do, there wouldn´t be any dying from starvation but it would be enough food for all human beings in the whole world. So much less pain in the world woulb be the result.

    Dieter

  2. September 28, 2011 8:39 pm

    Great point. This agrees with a point in book called Gospel-powered parenting. I do believe in spanking them bottoms, but the right attitude makes a world a difference, and the children feel loved afterwards.

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