I left home when I was 17 yr old. Lived with non-Amish friends while I established an identity and looked for work. Years later after little to no contact with my Amish family I am married with a child on the way and a good career in the Air force. Months before my son was born I found out my Mom had cancer. My Mom met my wife and newborn baby once before she passed away this was over 5 years after I left. Edit; i'll get a new link soon. Edit; WOW I didn't think this would last this long, thank you for the interest and thank you stranger for the gold. I finally set up an Imgur account 2 pictures, 1 is a picture of my former self the other is current http://imgur.com/user/formeramish/submitted
I will continue to answer when I can, no promises.

Comments: 1743 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

kierantab1034 karma

How often do you churn butter? please answer once or twice

former_amish1999 karma

Well while "living in an Amish paradise" I did churn butter "once or twice"

GandalfsStepdad922 karma

When you left the Amish community what was the most shocking thing about non-Amish society?

former_amish1580 karma

My family never really showed emotion or hugged, I was a little shocked by how emotional everyone is. Great question, i wasn't sure how to answer.

nathancoleman101493 karma

Do you ever visit /r/Amish?

former_amish675 karma

LOL, there doesn't seem to be anything here

CaptClarenceOveur472 karma

Ive heard that there is a lot of molestation and inbreeding in the Amish community. What do you think of that?

What do you think of "Amish Mafia"? Is it real or fake?

Are you still religious and conservative or did you go full "English"?

Hows your Dutch?

Are the Dutch kids like any other kids in the world? I mean, do you guys think about girls (or boys) all the time and just constantly looking for trouble? Or is everyone pious and humble?

How are the birds and bees explained to Amish children? How are things like masturbation handled?

Are the Amish political? If yes, do they lean towards any specific party?

I'm very curious about the leaders about the community. Can you tell me anything about them? What kind of power they actually have? How do they get elected?

More to come later!

former_amish798 karma

Somehow I missed the second question, "Amish Mafia" is the worst show I have ever watched and is nothing like actual Amish people. They are actors that may or may not have been Amish years ago. I only watched several episodes and noticed at least one occasion when the actors were speaking Dutch but were not saying what the subtitles said, i quit watching.

former_amish651 karma

  • I have never heard of any inbreeding. I knew about one case of molestation, the guy went to prison as he should.
  • I am not currently practicing any religion but I believe in Christ...I would not consider myself very conservative, I mentioned earlier that I don't have a play station/x-box, this is not because I don't believe in it but because it doesn't interest me.
  • LOL, I can hold a conservation.
  • Just like any other kid.
  • This one is tough for me. I was never told about the birds and bees, I am sure every family has a different way of having "the talk" with their kids.
  • Amish in general are not political.
  • The leaders are voted in or they vote sever people into one position then do something similar to drawing straws :) to decide who actually gets the position. The bishop might have a lot of power but usually seeks advice from the elders. A position like the bishop or any preacher is not actually something that is usually sought after.

Hope I answered your questions, please remember almost every community is different and my answers are based on my experience.

CaptClarenceOveur125 karma

Can I ask the area you are from? Are you Pennsylvania Amish, Ohio, Update NY, etc etc? I don't want you to out yourself, but knowing where you are from will allow me to ask you more specific questions to your area/community.

Ive heard that real Dutch and Amish Dutch are very different. Have you ever heard real Dutch and do you think you'd be able to speak to an authentically Dutch person?

Would you be able to live without electricity if you had to or would you go nuts? Recently when hurricane Sandy rolled by my state and knocked the power out for a week... I went bat shit insane.

I'm curious as to how intolerant the Amish are to homosexuality and if you carried over that intolerance into your non-Amish life.

I always hear that hard drugs are rampant amongst the Amish. Could you comment on that?

More to come later!

former_amish286 karma

  • I am from Tennessee (Swartzentruber Amish).
  • I have never talked to a real Dutch person so I don't know how similar it is. We also learned German in school I can still understand it but struggle when talking.
  • I think I would be fine but I do enjoy my tv and phone lol. I would probably go crazy after a week.
  • Amish don't really acknowledge the existence of homosexuality, I try to be accepting of everyone.
  • The worst drugs I ever had was a cigar or a beer haha. I did hear a rumor about someone having weed but I don't know if it was true.

CaptClarenceOveur110 karma

Amish don't really acknowledge the existence of homosexuality, I try to be accepting of everyone.

Could you go into that a little bit more? What do you mean they don't acknowledge it?

What would happen if someone came out of the closet or was caught having a homosexual relationship?

Wasn't there ever an oddly swishy and single Amish feller that you just knew was off?

former_amish223 karma

They don't believe that you can be homosexual, or if you claimed to be homosexual they would probably say you choose to be that way, maybe you are mentally ill. If you were caught in a homosexual relationship (im guessing) you would shunned until you repented of your sins, maybe you would have to get some type of mental treatment. The Amish are usually very "manly men" and I never knew an Amish person that I would be sure was homosexual.

pastillage152 karma

pretty sure "pennsylvania dutch" is actually "deutche" meaning german...


former_amish123 karma

True.. We also learned a German dialect in school that is closer to the way someone from Germany would actually speak. Basically we spoke "Pennsylvania dutch" in our home and learned another very different dialect of German in school.

Dus-Sn447 karma

I've always wondered: how does courtship work in the Amish community? Serious question. Are marriages arranged or are males and females free to court whomever they want? If the latter, what is there to do on "dates?"

former_amish725 karma

  • Courtship is something that varies a lot from one community to another. In my community, you (usually the guy) would ask the girl for a date, the date would be at the girls parents house where they might have dinner, play board games or, just visit. Sometimes friends might visit or harass the dating couple. If the date went well you might get another just like any non-amish.
  • Marriages are absolutely not arranged. Boys/girls are free to date any Amish person of the opposite sex, not related (yes i feel the need to add that lol) and, appropriate age. My cousin married when she was 19 (almost 20) and I remember my parents thought that was so young to get married.

aespo415 karma

Is there anything you miss about the Amish life?

former_amish919 karma

Yes I miss the way the community worked together and the simpleness of the way of life.

CerealK599 karma

Which, strangely, is also how the army works.

former_amish816 karma

I'm not crazy! I say that all the time (Air Force).

7069415 karma

What is your first memory of thinking about leaving your community and what was the "final push" for you?

former_amish854 karma

I remember cutting firewood and just wishing I had a chainsaw to make it easier. I feel like I always knew I would leave but just waited until I grew older.

JustTrying2BAwesome407 karma

Wow. Impressive story. What was the hardest thing about leaving your family and way of life?

former_amish660 karma

Easily the hardest thing was leaving my family and knowing how disappointed my parents would be.

JustTrying2BAwesome312 karma

I can't even imagine. Much respect my friend. Does any part of you still think about how your life might be if you never left?

former_amish390 karma

Thank you. I think about it all the time but its easier now that I have my own family.

webhyperion383 karma

How would you react if your son decided to go back to his roots and live a life as an Amish?

former_amish716 karma

I would fully support it but I wouldn't try to force it on him. I do want him to know about his grandparents and why they live that way.

laurathebadseed259 karma

Is your wife from an Amish background, too? How did your mother and wife get along when they met?

former_amish441 karma

My wife was never Amish. When she met my Mom it was in more of a group setting with my dad and uncles/aunts. It was very awkward, my wife feels like they might blame her even though I met her years after I left. The meeting was one where the silence was long and tense, I do believe both, Mom and my wife, were trying to just talk. eddit; an apostrophe

BigLouThe1st237 karma

Was there a time period where you parents didn't talk to because you left the Amish community?

former_amish430 karma

Yes almost 5yrs, I was told not to come back unless I planed to stay Amish. When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer I went to see them for the first time in years, with my wife.

NoodleMonster12237 karma

What convinced you to leave?

former_amish629 karma

I still ask myself the same question!! LOL. I was just looking for more in life, I wanted a tv and a truck.

former_amish461 karma

I am very happy with my life now, happily married and I have an awesome son.

lefavrejohn212 karma

Are there any hot Amish babes you regret leaving?

former_amish497 karma

My wife jokingly asks if I think girls in long plain dresses are hot.

SaberGaze211 karma

i can see you being a character in a war movie.

former_amish167 karma


RainmanEOD196 karma

What do you do in the Air Force? Was there some culture shock when you joined?

former_amish430 karma

  • Air Traffic Control (RADAR)
  • Less culture shock then just leaving the Amish lifestyle. They tell me how to cut my hair and what to wear. I like to say there are more similarities then you might think.

TimmyWithaG125 karma

I'm leaving for air force basic in 2 days, how was it for you?

former_amish265 karma

Pretty easy, expect to workout and get yelled at a lot. Don't let the yelling bother you but do what you are told to even if it is opposite of what you were told a minute earlier. Put your best effort into the workouts it is a way to relieve stress and you will be healthier.
TRUST ME week 1 and 2 will suck but don't give up as long as you do good it gradually gets better, by week 8 (or did they shorten it to 6) you will enjoy it.

thornbaby177 karma

I'll give in and ask the standard question - what was the most unexpected thing about non-Amish life that you've hit? Also, how did you go from pacifist Amish to the military?

former_amish299 karma

Most unexpected was probably the importance of education, I already knew a little about technology but but there was still a lot that was unbelievable to me. I joined the Air Force more for the education and also I wanted a better career after working in a factory for 2 yr. I have never actually left the US (yet) or seen any real action.

stopbeingsheep125 karma

When you say there was a lot that was unbelievable to you, what sorts of things stand out?

former_amish302 karma

Texting, why would you type if you can call! lol, i text a lot more now and seldom call. Bluetooth, this just blew my mind.

stopbeingsheep104 karma

I just got a car that bluetooths with my phone. It's insanity. I do enjoy that it plays my music right from my phone.

What types of music have you discovered? I recommend jazz. Bebop.

former_amish153 karma

Ill try jazz right now, I love new things. At first it was only Country western, still a large part of my music library but I have broadened to almost everything but metal and apparently jazz.

former_amish127 karma

LOL i just noticed your username.

StoobieGacks173 karma

What's one piece of technology you're still amazed by?

former_amish334 karma

I would say any newer smart phone. I am not much of a gamer and don't own a play station or x-box.

Keynan747 karma

Well, writing play station with a space, and x-box with a hyphen is enough proof that you were Amish for me :P

former_amish508 karma

Now I'm laughing at it, seemed right at the time.

CapricornAngel168 karma

Do you feel that in the next 100 years, the Amish population, as a whole, will increase or decrease?

former_amish301 karma

Increase, the TV shows make it seem as though a lot of them leave, in reality its a small percentage.

Accent12161 karma

What was the first thing you watched on TV? How do you feel about Vanilla Ice goes Amish (since I'm watching it right now)?

former_amish308 karma

I thought I would hate the show but I keep laughing at it.

former_amish228 karma

I don't remember the title of the first movie i watched but it was an old western movie.
I have never seen Vanilla Ice goes Amish (switching tv channel) ill be back.

former_amish156 karma

Thank you for all the questions, comments and, encouragement keep them coming and I will answer in the morning.

Wynner3131 karma

Do you think the Amish could benefit from modern technology? Do they have cell phone service in Amish communities?

former_amish270 karma

The Amish do benefit from technology to some extent. We used to sell vegetables to non-Amish and use the money to go to Walmart. My brother was taken to the hospital in a Medevac flight, although this was not the preferred method to take him to the hospital it needed to be done. My mom went through chemo therapy for cancer (I know about the girl in Ohio, don't know anything about the community). - We didn't have a cell phone, or home phone. If you are asking if there is coverage for a cell phone, it is like any other place in the US it might or might not.

king_jacobi127 karma

how the hell do those fireplaces work?

former_amish179 karma

LOL, to be honest I hate it because I feel like its a scam and the Amish have nothing to do with it but really I don't know anything about them.

movetonanaimo123 karma

Do you have any regular challenges socializing with people? If so, what are they?

Also, (kind of related) have you held on to any aspects of your past way of life because you prefer them?

former_amish310 karma

I am a little shy and usually do have a hard time socializing. I also have an accent and often get asked where I'm from. I think I'm a little self conscious about my accent and I try to hide it because I feel like people think its fake. I lived in a small town for 2 yrs and hated it, I now live in the country. I always love to see my son play outside instead of watching tv. I think a simple life is better then most people realize. Don't know if all this is actually a result of growing up amish or just how any country boy feels.

Theopaulson93 karma

I sell stuff to the Amish in your old community. The vast majority are fantastically conversant, humble, and hilarious.

former_amish86 karma

I'm trying to remember the spot out on HYW43 where people sold stuff or do you go house to house. Someday I will take my wife to see the area, I met her in another state and she have never been there.

NSFLETU112 karma

How did you and your wife meet?

former_amish153 karma

We worked at the same factory, prior to joining the Air Force.

DoYouEvenShrift101 karma

What do you think is the largest misconception about the Amish lifestyle?

former_amish278 karma

All the time someone will ask, why are the Amish so angry or why do they hate non-Amish.
They are probably not angry they just don't show emotion a lot and they definitely don't hate all non-Amish. In fact I was taught that non-Amish are living they their parents taught them and that's OK.

dangerdark80 karma


former_amish106 karma

Wow! I don't remember and I feel like there might be a hidden reference or joke here that I don't get LOL.

junkerjay64 karma

You said you lived with non-Amish after you left home. Did you know them before you left or did you just meet them after? Had you had much contact with non-Amish people before you left home?

former_amish100 karma

They owned a farm and I met them as a hired hand. Most of the time when I had contact with non-Amish it was work related.

Kaiju-60 karma

Just wondering what was your location when you were Amish i have some friends whom escaped the life style in Berlin and Millersburg due to massive amounts of child molestation, they actually escaped the country to go to canada because of this. Did you ever hear of other horror stories?

former_amish127 karma

I'm from Ethridge Tennessee. I am truly saddened to hear a story like that and I hope they are ok. I only know of the one story I mentioned earlier, the person was arrested just like anyone else would be. It is hard to tell how often things like this happen that are never found out but don't judge all Amish by the actions of one or even one community, almost every community has different rules.

iwanttofork58 karma

Why do Amish boys have the "caesar haircut" ? (which kind of resembles a mushroom to me)

former_amish111 karma

My community had a different haircut. The way they dress or cut their hair is just how they show modesty. I'm not sure if there is a more specific reason or not.

Legato89548 karma

What are the top 5-10 concepts of Amish life that you would like to see in external society?

What did you name your son if I may ask. Do you have a very traditional name that you've kept?

former_amish106 karma

  • Caring community environment, work ethic, not making everything a competition (i'm sure there is a word for this but I cant think-edit; humility),
  • My sons first name is not very traditional his middle name is German but not a name i had ever heard in the Amish.

Philofelinist43 karma

How was it interacting to English people with their different backgrounds? I'm assuming that the community was predominantly Caucasian and you probably didn't have much interaction with ethnic groups, those from different religions, etc.

former_amish86 karma

I was/am the person who is in the background trying to learn about and understand new people before I interact. I think I am very open to all different groups of people. Although I didn't have much interaction with others I was never taught to hate anyone for the color of their skin or their religion preference.

SonomaKids41 karma

Have you seen the documentary Devil's Playground? If so what do you think of it - is it accurate? Did you do rumspringa before you left your community?

former_amish59 karma

I usually bad mouth any TV shows or documentaries but i enjoyed this one. My community didn't have Rumspringa so I'm not sure how accurate it was however, from what I remember it could have been real I haven't seen it in a long time.

JaL1941 karma

If I wanted to become Amish for a year or so would an Amish community allow me to stay?

former_amish67 karma

Yes but don't tell them its only for a year, lol I don't know if that would actually make a difference. Also some communities either wouldn't allow it or it would be really hard to actually join the church, every community is different. You could always live the life and not actually get baptized by the church.

myspamhere40 karma

How do the Amish feel about Jews?

former_amish90 karma

I didn't hear much about Jews as an Amish person. Obviously I could see some friction there, the believes are pretty much opposite. Amish people are very passive. edit; I meant that the Amish are passive as in, they would probably not start a fight with a jew, not, they are more passive then a jew, sorry.

omni4216 karma

How are they opposite?

former_amish42 karma

The Amish lifestyle (everything they do) is based on the believe that Jesus Christ is real and that he will return. A Jew doesn't believe in Christ. Please correct me if I am wrong but I don't want to get in a debate about religion.

G3n3ricNam340 karma

I've heard that when Amish reach adulthood, they go out on the world for a while (as allowed) but man don't return because they prefer the modern world. Is this true? How many other people you know have left the Amish lifestyle?

former_amish77 karma

What you are referring to is called Rumspringa. Rumspringa was not allowed in my community, actually only a few communities allow it, I don't know how many return. In my community you either left or you didn't, you could return depending on the circumstance but you would still be shunned for some time, it was not something that was "allowed". I know personally know 8 or 10 people that left.

Hayleyfire39 karma

Did/do you face any discrimination for being Amish, whether as an Amish or as an Ex-Amish?

How deep were the religious sensibilities of your community?

former_amish66 karma

  • You always get a few people that want to make fun of the Amish but I didn't experience what I would consider discrimination, at least nothing that could be proved.
  • I am not exactly sure what you are asking with the second question, sorry. Everything about the Amish lifestyle is based on religion.

CobaltKing27 karma

Where you ever officially shunned? What would happen today if you walked into your old community?

former_amish70 karma

I was never baptized so its not considered shunning by the church, I was disowned by my family. The relationship with my family is a little better since my Mom passed, not because she isn't here but because it brought us together. I go see my older brother (married and living away from my dads house) every once in a while when I can.

1KlaS17 karma

former_amish41 karma

Much better than "Amish mafia" but that isn't saying much. I did actually watch this show.

cp518416 karma

How was the army similar to your life in amish country?

former_amish27 karma

I am in the Air Force, nothing against the Army lol. Its the structure, the rules, they both tell you how to cut your hair and what to wear. Also there is a similiar sense of community or family.

capnfauxhawk15 karma

I heard that in an Amish church they only sing in a cappela. Why don't the churches have organs?

former_amish39 karma

I'm not sure why but we had no musical instruments. My best guess would be because they think the words of the song are more important then the sound of an instrument.

hodgOutlet12 karma

what technology have you seen in the military (where technology is born) that has blown your mind?

I don't mean blown your "amish" mind. I mean blown your mind now that you are familiar with everything.

former_amish18 karma

I don't really see new technology but my job requires a RADAR and I am always impressed at how it works, newer things I have seen would just be things like a new computer program or system.

former_amish9 karma

that was being used outside the military before we saw it..

DeepFried10 karma

Although I am as thoroughly modern/21st century as an American can be, I sometimes wonder if "simple" people like the Amish have a clearer sense of the true consequences of subjects like consumerism/capitalism than those who live with it but strive against it. Do they?

former_amish12 karma

Honestly not sure if I'm capable of answering this. I think they have a better understanding then you might expect but I'm not sure if I would say its better then the other.

jennaflores9 karma


former_amish17 karma

I did struggle with some things when I Joined, like the idea of actually firing a gun in defense but I was ready for something new and exciting. The idea of joining kind of gradually grew on me I don't think I have changed a lot. I didn't leave the Amish and join the military the next day it was several years after I left before I joined.

xquazimodo8 karma

How did your family take the leave? were there any burnt bridges?

former_amish15 karma

I was shunned and told not to come back unless I wanted to stay Amish. Yes, when I got married and joined the Air Force there is really no going back now.

jedisippinlean6 karma

How do you feel about the way Amish are portrayed in the media today?

former_amish18 karma

The media only focuses on anything that will create drama. Most of the TV shows are complete crap, I think the media coverage of the schoolhouse shooting was a good portrayal of the Amish.

eerussianguy6 karma

Is it just like the TV shows?

former_amish32 karma

Amish Mafia is the worst example of Amish people possible.

former_amish24 karma

Lol, there was a show called "Amish out of order" in my opinion it was the only one that came even close to portraying the Amish correctly. The show didn't really focus on the Amish lifestyle but followed people that left the Amish.

blzy795 karma

Fuk it, it had to be done


former_amish2 karma

Someone made a reference somewhere in here lol, love it.

jenny714 karma

What a storey I watch on tv all the time these shows were Amish people are trying to escape it makes me wonder is life as Amish really that bad from what I know it a very strict way of living

former_amish18 karma

Looking back I don't think it was terrible, a lot of hard work sure. If you grow up without any modern conveniences you don't miss it. You are probably doing fine without your personal jet or chauffer, or maybe you have both and this was a bad example. Really only a small percent leave, I am the only one in my immediate family, the TV shows are after any drama they can get.

Nickmax2 karma

Hey! Thanks for doing this! Was there anything mysterious/supernatural things that you saw go down when you were in the Amish community? If you have seen that X-Files episode, you might see why I'm asking hehehe.

former_amish3 karma

I don't remember anything mysterious or supernatural. What was the X-Files about, is it worth looking up and watching?

ManOfTheInBetween1 karma

Do you still believe in God?

former_amish3 karma