Monday, March 25, 2013

Borrowing Books from My Daughter

I had just finished reading two rather intense books and I was looking for something light, but not fluffy, to relax with.  I was not having much luck finding something that was light enough but not completely banal, and Allie came to me with a book she had recently read that she thought I would enjoy.

This was such a great book to share with Allie.  It's about a young Amish girl on her rumspringa--when Amish teens get to experience the "English" world and choose if they want to be baptized into their Amish faith and community.  Some Amish teens stay within their community and attend parties with other teens where they play CDs on radios, wear jeans and even drink alcohol for their rumspringa.  Some teens get to work and live outside the community.  Parents make the decision of where their teen will have their rumspringa.  In this book, Eliza's parents are hesitant to allow her to leave, but she has an opportunity to work as a nanny for a family outside the community and reluctantly, her parents allow her to work in the outside world.

We don't live far from an Amish community and as a child, my mom used to like to take us to "see" the Amish, which always made me very uncomfortable.  Imagine working in your yard and having a family ogling at your fence?  I don't think I would like it.  There are things that I admire so much about the Amish way of life.  I think many of our "advancements" have just complicated and added stress to our lives...emails and texts to respond to, phone calls to answer, carpools and classes and keeping up with the Joneses.  I am sure the Amish have stress, but I believe our bodies were made to work outside, strenuously, absorbing vitamin D and I think a lot of our stress is related to not enough time outside and not enough muscle exertion.  I completely admire the Amish for resisting these things and maintaining their way of life and their strong faith.  

This book addresses so many issues from underage drinking to teen sex.  There are consequences to all of the actions.  This young Amish girl sees all of this through the lens of the faith she has been raised in.  This lead to some very powerful discussion between Allie and I.  But, the most powerful thing for me, in this book, was that Eliza's mother has told a very big lie and she comes clean to her daughter.  The most important thing to me in raising my girls is that they know that they can always come to me, we can talk about anything and that I will be honest with them.  I don't sugar coat it, I don't pretend I am someone that I am not and I don't pretend that I am perfect.  I am honest and straightforward with them and I think they know and respect that.  I think it's important that as parents we don't pretend to have all the answers or to have been perfect teens ourselves, I think it's important to acknowledge our mistakes and to be understanding of our teens' mistakes while also explaining why we feel the way we do on some issues.  The lessons in this book just drove those points home.  

I highly recommend this book for moms of young teens, read it with your daughter and discuss it.  There is much to learn about Amish life while also deepening the relationship with our daughters.