1. What is the inspiration behind Amish Values for Your Family?
After Amish Peace released, I had a number of speaking engagements to groups interested in the Amish. There was such interesting feedback—parents wanted take some principles from Amish Peace into their home. But how? That’s how this book came into being. I think of Amish Peace as a book where you are peeking in the windows of an Amish farmhouse. In Amish Values for Your Family, you’ve been invited in for dinner.
2. What are clues that we might need to incorporate some Amish principles into our family life?
One of the keys to contentment in the Amish life seems to be the commitment they have to filter every decision through a set of questions: what will the impact be on our family? Will it bring us closer to God? Closer to each other? Adopting that kind of decision-making helps to keep the demands of life in their proper perspective.
3. Do you have to "go Amish" to have a simple life?
No! Not at all! But the Amish do provide some wonderful examples to us of how to prioritize what’s truly important, to slow down as a family, to safeguard time together.
4. What makes AVFYF unique from other parenting and family life books?
During these speaking engagements, there was always a moment when the audience stilled, leaned forward in their chairs, and began to scribble notes. It happened when I made this statement: “Children are loved but not adored.” The Amish have a different way of relating to their children—they highly value children, but they have clear expectations in their home. I think they provide a better balance of loving children, yet raising them with an eye on adulthood.
5. Explain the Road Map sections of the book.
The Road Maps are a practical way to take some principles of the Amish life and weave them into your family’s life. After a story about an Amish family that loves to go bird watching together, there are suggestions to encourage your children to be knowledgeable about nature. Another story describes a father and son who build a rabbit hutch rather than buy it. The Road Map gives some of the benefits of what happens when a parent slows down and takes the time to teach a skill. Wonderful things happen!
6. What are one or two principles you talk about in AVFYF that families could easily adopt into their lifestyles right now?
There’s a theme of revering nature that runs through many stories. The Amish are outdoorsy—they are so aware of nature! I think that is one thing we parents can do a better job of—turn off the TV or computer, take a walk, plant a garden, provide a backyard bird feeder, stargaze at night. Get outside! And start to notice this beautiful world God has created.
7. In the introduction, you introduce a concept you call the "disappearing childhood phenomenon." Please explain.
There are quite a few studies that show some alarming trends in modern American families. Children’s free time has declined by twelve hours a week in the last twenty years; time spent on structured sports activities has doubled, family dinners are down by a third, and the number of families taking vacations together has decreased by 28 percent. Parents now spend 40 percent less time with their kids than they did thirty years ago. And another study found that the higher the income, the less time a family spends together. These findings are troubling. By contrast, the Amish maintain one of the most stable family systems in America. They’re doing something right! And I think it has something to do with the amount of time they spend with their children.
8. You've spent a lot of time researching today's families and family dynamics for this book, what are some of the major struggles families are facing?
The pressure to succeed, to be the best. Many parents place their need for significance onto their children. Here’s where the Amish differ from modern America—we have a focus on raising children who are special. Unique. Admired and respected. They have their focus on pleasing God.
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