When we think of the expression “a misspent youth” we often think of a young person who spent his teenage years partying to such a degree that he or she allowed school and other activities to be neglected. I grew up in a strict religious background, and a lot of the things those young people did were forbidden and foreign to me. I didn’t drink, smoke, curse, go to movies, or dance.
I sometimes wonder if their youth was misspent or was mine. Perhaps a little of both. Those who partied might have fared better had they spent more time in serious pursuits. On the other hand, I might have had a more rewarding life had I found a middle road. The Amish practice of Rumspringa seems to be a middle path in which the Amish youth are allowed to explore the world and decide for themselves whether they will depart from their faith or remain Amish. Those who decide to stay are baptized into the Amish religion.
Many children rebel at some point in their lives, and quite often that rebellion includes a departure from religion, especially if that religion was strict and controlling. Most of the Amish youth who go through Rumspringa remain in the Amish community, so it seems their freedom works for them, not against them.
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