Poverty does not have one single cause. Its causes are intertwined with each other. Shipler, author of The Working Poor, stated that the ingredients of poverty are part financial and part psychological, part personal and part societal, part past and part present.
Whether we like it or not our past has a lot to do with our present. Children raised in poverty stricken homes are more likely to continue in poverty as adults. While researching poverty it is found that many adults living in poverty suffered a troubled childhood. This is a chilling revelation. These histories are both cause and effect: tangled together with a myriad of other difficulties such as money, housing, schooling, health, job, and neighborhoods that reinforce one another.
It is not easy to be an active parent when you’re tired and stressed. For example, it has been found that some parents never play with their children; these children grow up and never play with their children. Play is a child’s job. It is the means by which a child gets to explore the world around them. However, without their parents’ support and guidance they don’t get to venture too far.
It is not only play time being affected but also quality time. In a Baltimore malnutrition clinic a mother was observed with her son while he was supposed to be eating. His mother watches for a moment, then pulls out a magazine and reads. Nothing ever goes into his mouth, and she pays no attention. Even though this child has a problem with malnutrition, the mother still doesn’t give him the attention and guidance needed.
This lack of guidance can also led to problems in the soft skills needed by employers. Soft skills, such as initiative, punctuality, personal hygiene, and the ability to take orders, are imperative in retaining a job and increase the likelihood of promotion. These soft skills should be taught in the family as everyday life lessons.
Children living in poverty learn other lessons. Some lead to life skills such as being street smart, independent, and frugal. However, some of those lessons are not as positive and can keep the cycle of poverty going from generation to generation.
To break the cycle, it may be necessary for someone from the outside to step in. There are many great organizations that work with children living in poverty. Find one near you that you agree with and donate your time. Giving one day a month may be the ticket out of poverty for some child.