My dad left his home at 15 to join the CC Camps during the Great Depression to send money home to his mother and other siblings. When I see pictures of him in New Mexico building roads, he looks like a man. When I visit Amish settlements scattered across Western Pennsylvania, I see young teens driving huge hay wagons on main roads. I know a few of them aren’t even teenagers, being 12. Their self-worth is so much higher than English youth, it sometimes takes me back. If parents aren't home when visiting a family business, a young son or daughter will come out and explain the business and clinch a sale. It amazes me.One Amish family I know, depends on the income of their oldest daughter, who’s the local schoolteacher at 16. The whole family of 12 works at the vegetable stand, greenhouse, make crafts, just about anything to pitch in. When I see this young teacher, I think of my mom. She did the same thing as a youth. She too lived through the Depression, and handed her paycheck over to the family when she got her first job as a shoe clerk. She told us about that job with such pride; she was a part of something bigger, a family. My grandma was a seamstress, and my mom did embroidery or other fabric arts to embellish dresses. I see this all the time in Amish country; mothers and daughters working on something to sell, whether a craft or jam.
I got my certification as a Montessori preschool teacher, and the approach to training children is similar to the Amish. As soon as a child can do something for themselves, or for the group, they’re required to do it. So, if a child can push a broom, they can sweep. It’s almost comical to see little three year olds with their pint-sized brooms clean-up after an activity. Cleanup is a part of the program. But I see this in Amish families all the time.
Getting back to teenagers, I really believe that as soon as they’re able to work, or contribute, it makes them feel needed and important, and less self-centered. When I see rebellion in a teenager, I wonder if he/she doesn't feel needed. Everyone wants to feel like a part of something bigger than them, whether it's a family, a church, a Girl Scout troop.
Since I have a world-wide audience to this blog, I wonder if some of you can let me know if teenagers are coddled in your country or made useful when age appropriate. Thank you!
|These Amish "men" are between 12 - 15.|