(C) Bill Coleman/Amishphoto.com

Kristina, a curly haired three-year-old with a stubborn streak, didn’t like to wait until grace was over to start on her meals. After all, she was hungry! While everyone’s head was bowed, she would quietly reach out and grab a bread roll or a strawberry or a corn cob. The Amish pray silently before a meal, and then they pray after a meal. “We give thanks and we return thanks,” Kristina’s father, Mose Weaver, explained. “And it was time for Kristina to learn to obey.”

Mose and Sallie Weaver weren’t going to dismiss Kristina’s willfulness as age appropriate. Nor were they going to assume that she would grow out of this in time. For three meals a day, Mose held Kristina on his lap during grace, enclosing her little hands in his large, work-roughened ones. Before a meal and after a meal. It took a week before Kristina was able to sit back in her chair and be trusted not to sneak a little hand up onto the table and poke a finger in a jar jam.

Obedience—a word that isn’t very popular in our modern society—tops the list of values that Amish parents want their children to embrace. The ritual of pausing before a meal for silent grace might seem small but, to the Amish, it is symbolic of something much bigger. This discipline, difficult for a hungry little one, is the first step in expressing gratitude to God.

Read the rest of “Children are Loved but not Adored” here

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