Studies have shown that many Amish teenagers give a new turn to their lives after the Rumspringa. But what do they do after the Rumspringa and how are their choices influenced?
To begin with, the Rumspringa corresponds to a period during which the Amish teenagers are temporarily partially untied from their Church and its rules, in order to discover the modern world.
This is a time when some misconduct is not uncommon and, if it is not severely condemned. Once they have engaged publicly and forever in the Amish faith, adults are subject to stricter standards of behaviour. This is the period when, considered to have reached maturity, the young person is allowed to attend the Sunday evening chants, which are the subject of the parade nuptial among the Amish. According to Amish sources, a young person who dares to attend one of these events before the age of 16 could be drunk with hot milk in the spoon, as a reminder of good humour to observe the status lines.
In fact, a minority of Amish teenagers depart from established customs. During this period, they can wear contemporary clothing (called “dress in English”), drive non-hippomobile vehicles (for communities that avoid motor vehicles), not attend home prayer to drink alcohol, smoke or use recreational drugs; girls can wear makeup and jewels. Not all young people depart from custom during this period. About half in large communities and the majority in small Amish communities remain in the standards of amish tenue or behaviour during adolescence.
Nevertheless, some Amish youth are separated from the community and will even live among the “English”, i.e. the non-Amish, and use modern technology. Their behaviour during this period does not necessarily prevent them from returning to receive baptism in the Amish as adults.
Besides, most of them are not far away from their families’ homes during this period, and many (85%-90%) end up choosing to be baptized and integrated into the Amish. However, this proportion varies from one community to another, and within a community between amish more and less acculturated. For example, Amish Swartzentruber have a lower retention rate than Andy Weaver amish (90% / 97%, although most Amish Swartzentruber do not allow teenagers to leave the community during rumspringa at will). This figure was significantly lower as recently as in the 1950s. The disaffection of the Amish community was only a problem during the early colonial years, and is not a long-term trend.
By the way, amish youth can meet people outside their community. On the other hand, this practice is much more permissive in large Amish communities than in small ones. Its duration also differs from one community to another.
After completing the rumspringa, the young adult Amish can ask for baptism and be admitted definitively into the community. If he decides not to be baptized, he will no longer be able to reintegrate into the community.
At 23, Saloma Miller Furlong chose to leave her family and friends. She tell us her choices.
For Saloma, who had a difficult childhood, “when young people leave the community, it has nothing to do with the rumspringa”: “Some young people are disenchanted by the idea taught to children, because they do not feel in their place, or because they are denied the right to brilliant studies. Our parents teach us that if we were born Amish, it is God wants us to stay Amish. If we are not, all hope of redemption is lost.” “The best thing that can happen to them: let them be told that all they need is to believe in Jesus Christ,” says the author.
In conclusion, some teenagers use the Rumspringa to escape and escape the pressure they have always experienced in order to resume their lives in this modern and free world.