What Do the Amish Think of their Neighbors?

Anon wrote: I would like to know what the Amish think of their non-Amish neighbors in general. My next door neighbors are Amish but we’ve only lived here for about 9 months. They seem to work SO HARD that I wonder if they think we are wimps? (I’ve seen the husband spreading manure in SEVERE winter weather, for example). We are born again Christians, I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom. So I wonder, do they think us less “worldly” than the cussing gritty farmers we’re surrounded with? The 14 year old girl borrowed my Anne of Green Gables books and devoured them – the mother seemed pleased. When I let her know that we also have the Anne DVD’s and that the girl is welcome to come over and watch them, her whole attitude changed – it was very awkward – She said “Going to the movies is something that the Amish just do not do.” I appologized up and down and wanted to explain that it wouldn’t be the same as “going to the movies” but I just thought I better drop it. I am used to being judged for being too Christian but now I find myself in the odd position of being looked at as too worldly. It’s been strange! I would love for our kids to play together more but I’m afraid they’ll think we’re a bad influence. What did you think of English children when you were a child? Did you know any Christian ones?

Anon, you have several layers of questions here. Let me start in the beginning. About what the Amish think of their neighbors in general — this is a question that can only be answered in the specific… it is as hard to answer as how do mainstream Americans think of their neighbors in general. Each relationship is different… 

Most Amish are indeed hard-working. And they don’t usually think about whether their “English” neighbors work hard or not. If you were part of the community, then they may have an opinion, but they simply don’t judge the English people. They may get along better with you than the cussing gritty farmers you are surrounded with, though the Amish men seem to know how to get along with their tough neighbors oftentimes. 

For most Amish I know, they feel uncomfortable being around born again Christians because they do not believe in evangelizing. All you have to do is tell them you are born again, and they will then be afraid that you will try to convert them. They believe in keeping their faith quiet and within their own communities.

About Anne of Green Gables — it doesn’t surprise me that you got the response you did. Most Amish make no distinction between going to the movies or watching them on television.  You were wise to not try to make that distinction.

It depends on the family and community as to whether the parents are comfortable with having your children play with your children. When I was a child, my closest friends and neighbors were “English.” We were inseparable. My mother used to call over to the neighbors when she wanted us to come home and say, “Cumm du doh rivvah!” (You come over here!) My neighbor, Susan, used to laugh and say it sounded like she was saying, “Come to the river!” 

Some Amish parents actually like when their children play with “English” children, because it is the easiest way for their children to learn the English language. Other families/communities are much more reclusive. My best advice is to ask the mother how she feels about it. 

I know that many people like to be liked by the Amish. My advice is to be yourself, and not worry too much about what they think of you. The Amish, like anyone else, really respect someone who is authentic, and they are also good at knowing when someone is not putting on airs or being too careful around them. The Amish are not as breakable as you think. In fact, unless you are part of their community, they are about the most non-judgmental people you would ever want to meet.
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10 thoughts on “What Do the Amish Think of their Neighbors?”

  1. Saloma, I’m really enjoying your detailed answers to these questions. Great job!

    There were two points in this post that really jumped out to me by how much they mirrored my own opinion/experience. One was that the born again crowd used to make us most uncomfortable and then your last paragraph where you were saying that the Amish are some of the most non-judgmental people.

    Thanks again for sharing these posts and I’m looking forward to reading more.


  2. I had never thought about the distinction between judging non-Amish versus Amish. But what you say makes a lot of sense.

    Interesting points.

  3. Saloma,I didn’t know that the amish didn’t believe in being born again,well I once said that I didn’t know too much about the amish. Not trying to be disrespectful,but then what are their beliefs? I am being nosy. Blessings jane

  4. Marianne, thank you for your compliments… very nice coming from someone so articulate as you!

    Deanna, don’t most people judge “their own” more harshly?

    Jane, it’s hard to describe the Amish beliefs… you kind of have to be there. They do believe that Jesus died for our sins and they make baptismal vows to that effect, but they don’t talk about their faith openly. They believe in having a quiet, yet deep inner faith, rather than spreading their beliefs. It’s almost as though they feel that talking about it weakens their faith, or cheapens it somehow. And what is funny, as I write this, I am quite private about my spiritual beliefs. Some of my spiritual experiences are almost too deep to put into words. Perhaps I am still Amish in more ways than I realize.

  5. I live about an how hour away from a Amish Community in Tennesse. I visit them occasioanlly to buy their goods. I know this is probably a really dumb question, but what would an Amish person think if I asked if I could live with them for like a week and learn their customs and beliefs? Would that just be completely rude and disrespectful? I mean I would never really ask such a question, but the thought has crossed my mind multiple times.

  6. I live inFlorida and we rent a home from Amish husband and wife.They live in Adams County Indiana….I have learned alot just living here.They are very private,quite.We live on an old Amish Estate Totally private..Everything is white….Everything.I am on this Estate alone living in on of the Elders home and there is 4 other propertys on this land.The whole compound is OFF the grid.,also there home in Indiana is OFF Grid…They live, and love simple..They call us Brother and sister,and the same to them selfs.They even have more Simple Names.

  7. This seems to be an old blog but perhaps someone will see it, This evening I found out the 300 plus farm across the road from us and the farm next to it was purchased by an Amish family, We are a quiet older couple that live alone, We do not play loud music or have loud parties, About once a year we have a small gathering of family, I found the above comments very informative but have many more questions, My water and electrical lines run across that property, do I need to worry? Would they be offended if I greeted them with a wave or a good day when we they travel past my yard and I am outside working? The speed limit on our old road is 55 and there are some that even go faster than that, I am worried for their safety in their horse drawn buggies, Should I talk to someone about lowering the speed limit as there are a lot of blind spots? Since we were here first will they resent us if we refuse to sell? I have been looking for information since I found out they will be taking possession of the farm the first of June, I do not mind them moving in at all, and am grateful that I will have non rowdy non invading neighbors, but I am curious about their chosen lifestyle.

    1. Ellen, You shouldn’t worry about the electrical lines. The Amish just won’t connect to them, as that represents a connection to the outside world and its temptations. I would think that it’s ok to greet them, some Amish recently moved into my area, and the first buggy I passed (going the opposite direction) had a young lady in it who waved and smiled at me. They seem to be friendly people, they just don’t like to “mix” much. As for the road, I suppose you could raise your concerns with the local police or whoever is in charge of speed limits, but it is the car driver’s responsibility to be aware of what to do around horse & buggy drivers, or horse riders (Amish or not) on the road – they have legal rights & responsibilities, too. You may consider placing an ad in the local paper reminding people to pass buggies “wide & slow”. With such a large population moving in, there will be a lot of buggies around.

  8. Where I live are the Swazentruber Amish and they are not friendly, I don’t know why but they are very strict and keep away from other Amish and englishers, I want to visit Lancaster, I have German heritage and have spoken German to Amish by mistake, my grandpa is Bavarian so I speak German a lot, I don’t understand different Amish groups at all, Ohio and tn have the Swazentruber Amish and other states have new order Amish, old order Amish, I love the Amish and kind to them, I don’t film them at all and did speak a little Dutch and they loved it, sorry but if I talk long, I don’t understand all the different Amish groups at all

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