Amish Adolescence

Anonymous asked: “What were your Amish teen years like?”

In a word — tumultuous. Do teenagers go through adolescence, even though they don’t know what it is? When I was in my teen years, I had no idea that it was “normal” to have such a difficult time getting along with my mother. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t refrain from talking back to her, even though it often resulted in a whipping.

When I was thirteen, my schooling came to and end. That was hard, because I loved school and learning. I knew I had to adjust to the rule of not being allowed to get more education, because that rule was not going to be adjusted for me, yet I had a really hard time accepting that.

When I was fifteen, a friend of mine died a mystery death. She was seemingly healthy, but one day, a month before her sixteenth birthday, she died in her sleep. It turned out she had a congenital heart defect. This happened when I was pondering all kinds of questions about dying and death. I had nightmares about her death for years afterward.

I had struggles with all the authority figures in my life, most notably my parents and my older brother. My brother assumed authority over me, and if I defied him the consequences were more dire than if I defied my mother or my father. Besides the everyday authorities, there were also the elders of the church I rebelled against, especially later in my teens.

I hated the Amish dating practices, so I never once actually enjoyed the dates I had. I used to wish someone would ask me out to dinner, so we could get to know one another over dinner and conversation. So that was another source of turmoil in my teens.

My father’s violence, caused by his mental illness, had escalated by my late teens, which made my life unbearable. It was this cycle of violence that caused me to finally develop the gumption to leave.

This is a “sketch” of my tumultuous teen years. I am actually writing a book about this very subject, which I hope will be published. If so, you will be able to read about my teen years in much more detail.

Anonymous, thank you very much for your great questions. It has made for some interesting topics to write about. They caused me to think about my experiences in different ways than I had before.

I will be writing about Amish and health care in my next post.

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