Generational Poverty

Generational poverty is an unfortunate issue which affects individuals, families, and cultures all over the world. Generational poverty is considered a very complex problem due to the length of time and ways it affects certain families as an entirety. The severity of this issue makes it extremely difficult to find any resolutions in improving this epidemic. If a family is experiencing generational poverty, they have had to live in poverty for a minimum of two generations.
According to Cleveland, “It is important to recognize this time factor to be able to separate it from “situational poverty,” characteristically understood as a lack of resources due to particular sets of events, i. e. a death, chronic illness, divorce, etc. ,” (n. d. ). Almost every family and individual decision is made for the present. Individuals are not taught to think ahead and plan for their future. This is a trending factor in the difficulty in overcoming generational poverty.
Members whom belong to generational poverty have a sense of entitlement from society. Individuals have a constant defense mechanism to society as a whole. The most significant aspect to families suffering from generational poverty is that the “momma” is the central figure and focus to the family. The mom is what feels safe to the family. She is the ultimate caregiver to individuals in her family and to her house. Even after her children have grown into adults, both the mother and children have a difficult time with the child becoming independent.

Love is the center of “momma’s” home. The male figure in generational poverty is responsible for the manual labor and will fight for their family. Although they display a rough outer layer, they still show a great love for the members in their family. Even though there is a constant, huge amount of love, most communication within the family maintains in a nonverbal form. Overcoming generational poverty can be a challenging task. There are several key factors when considering on improving the poverty status.
Some of these factors include: Education is key in getting out and staying out of generational poverty, being in poverty is rarely about a lack of intelligence or ability, individuals stay in poverty because they do not see “choice”, or if they do, they do not know how to access proper resources or people to get them to the point of actually “choosing” to organize themselves, complete assignments, behave respectfully, plan for the future, and communicate in conventional register (Cleveland, n.d. ).
Once a child is born into generational poverty, schools are one of the few places where they are exposed to certain choices and rules of how a higher class lives. This also allows the child access to resources and people who want to assist in the child rising from poverty. There are specific characteristics displayed in those suffering from generational poverty, which contribute to the difficulty in overcoming it. One of these characteristics is the “working memory”.
“Neuroscientists discovered that the working memories of children raised in poverty are much smaller compared to those in middle-class,” (Pinoy, 2009). An individual’s brain capacity is a crucial part of their development. If a child is raised in a stressful household, the stress causes a limited supply of new nerve cells in the brain and memory. This can make it very difficult for the child to solve problems, read and properly communicate. The most effective way to begin overcoming generational poverty is for society to have a clear understanding of the complexity of this issue.
Women face many unique challenges in the different stages of poverty life. Although, many issues that trap women and girls in generational poverty can be alleviated by a good education. Job prospects multiply with every level of school completed; better jobs bring more income and, consequently, more options for housing, transportation, child-care and healthcare. But, it is challenging for a woman to secure a good education due to the several setbacks. A woman in poverty does to have the ability or access to pay for necessary education for either her or her child(ren).
A woman in poverty is consumed with the hours she spends working to care for the home and kids and feels this is the number one priority. It is also normal for the women to not have access to reliable transportation. According to Knight, “For a girl who seems to be making her way up the ladder out of generational poverty, pregnancy can be an enormous setback,” (2012). Mental health is even more likely to be neglected. The research shows that starting early by teaching girls life skills, such as financial planning and goal setting, can reduce stress and increase self-esteem.
Girls who live with hope and support are more likely to feel that they have inherent value and don’t have to depend on others – including boys – for validation. In order to improve the challenges that women in poverty face, it is imperative for society to offer programs and convenience to teach these women on how to improve their life quality. Mentors should be available to provide services on sharing examples and how positive goals can be accomplished by taking the necessary steps.
I have learned a great deal of information after viewing the informational videos and reading all the material on generational poverty. It has definitely changed my perspective on how I approach this special population. As most of the general population, stereotyping is a part of my daily life. I never truly understood the depth of the generational poverty issues that are present. I have learned that not only is there a lack of school environment education, but individuals suffering from generational poverty need educated on how to “properly” live life each day in order to obtain goals.
I have also learned these families can love more than your average family. They have a very strong bond between the members within their family. While love is important and necessary, they also have a misperception of life goals. The implications of this destructive cycle are the reasons generational poverty continues to be an issue. It not only affects individuals, it affects the family structure for many generations. Society as a whole needs to determine more effective ways to break it.

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