Fathers having to leave the home to work for the English is one of their biggest challenges to date. I know an Amish family of nine children ranging in age from a wee baby to teenagers. They did everything they could to keep dad at home. He walks down the road to work at a sawmill part-time, they have two large greenhouses, and the oldest daughter is a schoolteacher, adding her pay to the family money pot. But they aren't making it and Abe got a 9-5 job away from home. They are visibly grieved by this.
Amish fathers typically take care of the animals and farm chores. They plow and plant their fields, even if it’s only a few acres. They eke out a living by many means, by selling sweet corn, vegetables from their garden. Basically, they do everything they can do keep dad at home. But why?
Well, they take very seriously scripture in Deuteronomy:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The book of Deuteronomy not only houses the Ten Commandments, but many other rules for Goldy living to have a blessed life. These little nuggets of wisdom are to be passed down from generation to generation in their everyday tasks. You don’t sit down little Johnny and give him a list of rules to memorize. Most things are caught, not taught. So, a father living out the Christian life in front of his children is a constant object lesson.
Also, there are conversations that just pop up. Maybe a father and his daughter are out in the barn and she has something on her mind: a problem. The father senses this and asks her what’s wrong and she spills the beans. These are called the “teachable moments” that aren’t planned or scheduled. A father will miss them if he’s off to work. You can’t sit a child down at the end of the day and on command, ask his kids to pour out their heart. It flows out naturally and Amish families want to be the ones who instill Godly living in their children. They don’t even want the Bible taught in their one-room schoolhouses. No, this is the responsibility of the parents, especially the fathers.
Many Amish families live the extras of life to keep dad at home. He’s their valued teacher and helper in life, not just a hard worker who provides a paycheck. He’s Pa Ingalls wiping Laura’s tears because Almanzo isn’t paying attention to her. He’s Mr. Walton who works by his sons giving advice when asked. He’s home and home is where the heart is.