** More Than Happy by Serena Miller

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting starts with a simple observation, of perfectly behaved Amish children in a gas station store, and happily plunges into what Amish parents are doing to raise such perfect children. Shades of Bringing Up Bébé (shivers).

Clearly the Amish lifestyle is so different from mainstream “Englisch” lifestyle that specific upbringing techniques  are unlikely to be successfully adopted outside the larger context, and, let’s face it, few of us are willing to become Amish, even for the sake of our children. So let’s ignore the silly conceit that we can somehow borrow individual techniques of parenting. Let’s also ignore the heavy downbeat of guilt on women who work outside the home, since a key feature of Amish life is that women stay home (and obey their men, which we uppity Englisch do not always). Let’s instead concentrate on the observations the author makes of Amish families with whom she spent many hours. The 3-hour wedding ceremonies with no beautiful dress in sight, the careful pause before responding to questions, the constant social intercourse are lovingly described, along with Amish parents’ anguish about their teenagers (sound familiar?)

And it turns out that raising those perfect children may not be so hard after all: teach them they are not the center of the universe, do what you promise and expect the same, and turn off the TV. Perhaps not so hard, after all…


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