Daily life

The Old Order groups take special care of their elderly more than modern Mennonites do. Often when a couple marries, a “gross doddy” house is built next to the main house, for “granddaddy” (and wife). This is a house where the older parents move. They live there and are cared for until their deaths. They may be as active a part of the farm and house operations as their energies allow. When their health deteriorates, the family all helps with their care. It is rare that Old Order children move very far from their parental homes. The only reason they would do so is if there is no more land available in an area for farms and a group of families would move within or to another state or province where land is available for farming.

This is not the situation among the more modern Mennonites, particularly for those who have gotten higher education and have entered a profession. They often moved away from their parents and where they grew up. Family dynamics change when there is such a distance. Instead of aging parents being cared for at home, they often move to a Mennonite or other local retirement village. Currently there are about 76 Mennonite retirement centers in the U.S. and 35 in Canada.

The more conservative groups (Amish and other conservative groups) are usually farmers or work at farm related jobs. Their day is centered around farm work. They usually rise early to milk cows and tend to their herds of cattle. Following breakfast they spend the days in the fields, etc. If they are carpenters they leave home early to get to their work and work hard at their tasks.

The more modern Mennonites often have jobs in some profession. These include medical doctors or nurses, teaching at a university, computer related jobs, social work, etc.

Mennonite children attend school. The more modern Mennonites encourage their children to go through college or more. The Amish and Old Order Mennonites generally do not allow their children to attend more than eighth grade.