Partying With the Amish

Many Amish teens' first experiences with the outside world involve drugs, alcohol, and sex.


06/26/2006 11:42:52 AM

Indeed, windbender, for the majority who join their religion, there is a good outcome. For the minority who end up pregnant, drug addicts, alcoholics, in jail or dead in a car accident, however, theirs will be a much more difficult path. It should also be remembered that the young people who do NOT join the faith and who choose to stay in the English world are punished by shunning. Even their own families are prohibited from talking to them. It can be a very sad situation for everyone involved.


06/24/2006 04:40:34 PM

"This tradition of "sowing wild oats", it appears, will live on despite the problems it causes. I believe that the young people find out, through rumspringa, that life in the "English" world is not the way they want to live." It would seem, RiverMoonlady, that rather than causing "problems", if most turn bact to embrace their teachings, the outcome is exactly what is intend.


06/24/2006 04:36:47 PM

The subject is secondary, trust me.


06/24/2006 04:36:24 PM

"b/c saying no doesnt come naturally to alot of people" My lovely Italian bride would be the exception to that. We start with "no".


06/23/2006 02:02:16 PM

there is a reason that parents are told to practice with their kids on how to say "no" to drugs and other bad things. b/c saying no doesnt come naturally to alot of people. sometimes you have to build up the ability to say no to things, whereas these kids are expected to do it all at once.


06/23/2006 09:15:04 AM

I've spent my entire life in Lancaster County, PA where there is a large Amish population. The "rumspringa" has been going on for decades. My father told me that when he was a teenager, he ran around with some Amish guys who kept their cars hidden behind local gas stations and garages. Back then, they did not have drugs but alcohol was quite popular. The boys also enjoyed racing their cars on back roads. The present influx of drugs into the Amish community is scary - there has even been a drug ring (selling methamphetamine) composed of Amish boys and members of a notorious motorcycle gang! In the end, nearly all of the teenagers join the church, marry, have children and live the lives of their ancestors. This tradition of "sowing wild oats", it appears, will live on despite the problems it causes. I believe that the young people find out, through rumspringa, that life in the "English" world is not the way they want to live.


06/23/2006 01:12:27 AM

You can't learn to swim on dry land, and you can't meaningfully reject something you've never had a chance to accept. Or sincerely accept something if you don't also have the option of rejecting it. Rumspringa is a test - given the choice, what will you choose? Do your ideals really mean more to you than worldly pleasures and freedoms? If that's just a hypothetical question, you can never give more than just a hypothetical answer. A chance to 'walk the walk' lets your community - and you - see if you really mean it.


06/22/2006 10:58:47 PM

Bottom line - it's about lending perspective to a choice that has life-long consequences and can be very demanding. Smart, really.


06/22/2006 10:56:15 PM

I once had a wife from a reclusive community in Pennsylvania. Trust me, the Amish are not the only ones capable of raising children without any clear understanding of common culture. Still, the propensity to stand on firm emotional ground - or not to - is set by parental influences that go to a more basic experience than how much television one is allowed to watch. If the roots are strong, the tree is strong. Getting seripitiously drugged, robbed, raped and murdered aside, most folks - at the most basic level - have sense enough to know when they're in over their heads. It's not like you need to have stickers on third story windows warning Amish kids not to jump out of them.


06/22/2006 12:17:46 PM

well, i gues if every move i made was going to be on T.V. i wouldnt behaved maladjusted either. of course, non of these kids on that show were form the really reclusive amish communities.


06/22/2006 11:27:12 AM

Didn't anyone see "Amish in the City"? Those kids seemed pretty well-adjusted having been thrown into L.A. given their secluded childhoods. I'd think that their upbringing would help them make moral choices.


06/22/2006 09:48:34 AM

I hate to sound so uncool - but I'm pretty horrified. I'm not Amish - but a religious (orthodox) Jewish father. I think that parents should try their hardest to pass on their religious tradition to their children and in general, set reasonable limits on their behavior. Wild behavior (drugs, promiscuity,excessive drinking) isn't only wrong - it's dangerous and harmful. You have to help kids to filter - to exclude the worst of the "outside" culture and make responsible and informed choices of what to accept. I don't know if these Amish kids have the skills to do this.


06/22/2006 12:30:21 AM

if they were slipped some drug (and it's so easy to prey on people who HAVE knowelege of such things) and rapped, or beated, or robbed, then what? they could end up with an STD or something, and not even know it, then they would go back to their culture where they dont use modern medicine and die in 5 years and it's unlikely that anyone in their community would even know why.


06/22/2006 12:27:53 AM

maybe maybe not. if you went to brazil into the jungle and hung out with the natives with only a tiny understanding of their language, do you think you would be un alter-ed by it? it's almost the same amount of culture shock for these kids, i've known some amish( not personally but i have seen them live up close and personal) and we're talking no electric, no information highway, no cars, little knowelege of the outside world. some divisions are very reclusive and still speak in old american english. they'd probably be lost if they had to decipher slang and accents from places like new jersy or even st.louis.


06/21/2006 09:57:55 PM

Let's not forget that these kids don't get their brains exchanged, or their memories erased, and then set loose like babes in the woods to be devoured by wolves. Undoubtedly the social and moral values they've learned go with them as they move outside the structured framework of their rather closed societies. Much in the same way Little Johnny still remembers what his mother told him when he meets those girls in Paris for the first time. He may get his cheeks pinched, but it's unlikely he'll suffer life-altering (though perhaps life-afirming) consequences.


06/21/2006 04:12:44 PM

wouldnt it be better to educate them their whole lives on the outside world?> i mean culture shock alone could cause these kids to spiral out of control, or wander into bad areas where they be taken advantage of. this is scarey, it would be like placing someone with no swimming experience in shark infested ocean waters.


06/20/2006 07:31:18 PM

I actually find this a little disturbing. How does this fit with their strong religious beliefs? That some sins are ok when you're a kid but not when you're older? This practice couldd have dire consequences for kids not used to being exposed to these vices.


06/20/2006 06:27:56 PM

See, this to me is what comes from living with a religious mentality that the "world" is evil, and that one needs to separate from it. The Amish life is definitely a strict one, and few convert, you are born into it. There are some districts that would not allow those who didn't join church to be with their families, while some are more lenient. Still, it's sad to see young people run so wild, because their parents believe in keeping them so sheltered. My mother was talking about sex with me before I developed anything. I knew what it was, I knew the consequences. I knew not to do it. When you make something forbidden, you only make it that more enticing. Beverly Lewis writes some wonderful books on the Amish people. I think it really portrays the Amish people faithfully.


06/20/2006 11:41:33 AM

Wow! This article is an eye-opener! I lived, for four years, in a farming community in southwest Wisconsin that had a quite large old-order Amish community. In contrast to the Indiana community, they were all farmers, with tourist-oriented businesses on the side. I never heard of "rumspringa"; maybe they didn't have it there, or maybe they had it and never talked about it to the local English. Anyway, wow! I can see the idea of "sowing wild oats" to get a taste of life outside the community before one chooses the Amish life, if they do choose it. The obvious downside is that some don't get through it safely, especially with crank and coke being used.


06/20/2006 11:17:20 AM

The documentary "Devil's Playground" is all about this. I guess for those that return to Amish life, it "gets it out of their system"...


06/19/2006 08:34:50 PM

One word: Moderation. God bless.