In the Amish world, children are brought up following all Amish family traditions and church traditions. At age 16, Amish teenagers do away with these traditions for several months to several years and go out into the “English”, modern world to experience what life is like outside of the Amish community in a tradition called Rumspringa. The hopes of Rumspringa are that Amish teenagers will see the evil in the modern world and turn back to the Amish church and community and will choose to be baptized into the faith. At this time, the parents of these Amish teenagers choose to overlook the new habits and actions of their children. The Amish parents want the best for their children and feel as though allowing them to party and live wild for a time away from them is the best way to teach their children. The parents have the approach to be hands off and ignore the behavior during Rumspringa. This is not an effective manner of parenting for these teenagers at such an influential time in their lives.
During Rumspringa, many teenagers continue to live with their parents in the Amish community, but take up new habits like smoking, drinking, and driving a car. Some teenagers do choose to move out to get the “full experience”. At this time, Amish teenagers completely throw themselves into the modern world. Many get into using and selling hard drugs and other negative habits. For most of the Amish teenagers during Rumspringa, they “get wasted, get a hangover, and then go back” according to Gerald from the documentary Devil’s Playground: Amish Teenagers in the Modern World.
Several questions I was left with after watching Devil’s Playground: Amish Teenagers in the Modern World, was that of wondering who was paying for these teenagers cars and teaching them to drive. I wondered who was buying them the alcohol since they were almost all underage. The documentary showed them all with a car, a drink in their hand, and mentioned of them all having a cell phone as soon as they began Rumspringa. I would have to assume that the parents are the ones providing the teenagers with these commodities and teaching them to drive. It is hard to understand why the parents would provide them all with these things when hoping for them to choose to leave it all behind. One would think that the parents would attempt to make the children’s life as hard on them as possible when they leave the Amish community. The argument could be made that they trust their children and trust in how they raised them and the morals that they instilled in them from the time they were young. Personally, I hope that for both the teenagers and their parents.
At the end of Devil’s Playground the audience sees that 90% of the teenagers choose to come back to the Amish community and join the church. I’m sure that in the documentary we saw the rare cases and the exceptions, but it makes you...