I’m not a member of the Old Order Amish Church, but I’ve lived with Amish neighbors all my life. I have taught in Amish one-room schools and have Amish friends. As a writer of Amish romance fiction, I’m often surprised by the beliefs of some readers concerning the role of Amish woman in the Plain community. I’m a lifelong resident of Kent County, Delaware and the Amish community here is the one I’m familiar with, so my opinions are based on my observations of this area’s Amish people.
Reviewers who say it isn’t realistic that a young Amish woman would be allowed to pick her own husband or decide not to marry someone her parents have chosen for her amuse me. Marriage after courtship for a woman usually comes in her early twenties, and rarely in her teens. Amish women marry for the same reasons as mainstream American women; some for companionship, some to have children and a family, some for love. I know Amish women who have remained single into their thirties and forties, before choosing a husband. A few never marry. No woman that I have ever known in an Amish community in Delaware was ever forced into an unwanted marriage.
If and when she does marry, she’ll refer to her husband as the “head” of the family, but she’ll participate in all family financial decisions. Usually, matters of the home, the garden, and young children are her responsibility. She’ll have control of the family checkbook and her name will be listed on property deeds with her husband. She often owns and operates her own small business such as raising poultry or vegetables, baking, or sewing quilts and other handcrafted items. Most Amish women I know have their own spending money separate from that of the household.
While Amish families follow the traditional customs of allowing men alone to act as bishops, preachers, deacons, and elders, a woman has an equal vote in church affairs. Many Amish women vote in state and national elections. I recently attended a state House of Representatives session where twenty Amish women were present to support of a new bill being proposed concerning home births with certified midwives.
Amish women may live a more conservative life than their English neighbors, but they are far from being subjugated, and are equally valued members of their families and community.
Emma Miller lives quietly in her old farmhouse in rural Delaware amid fertile fields and lush woodlands. Fortunate enough to be born into a family of strong faith, she grew up on a dairy farm, surrounded by loving parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Emma was educated in local schools, and once taught in an Amish schoolhouse.
When she’s not caring for her large family, reading and writing are her favorite pastimes. She’s the author of the Hannah’s Daughter’s series, including her most recent release, Hannah’s Courtship.
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