How Does Poverty Affect Parenting?

What's Covered

In this article, I will tackle parenting over poverty, what are the causes of poverty that affect parenting?  I will make clear how does poverty affect mother-daughter relationship? I will cite some aspects and interviews from parents whom I asked what their insights about the topic.  As a mother, I will try to know and learn what to expect and when to avoid and how to solve or try my best to do some evaluation or solution on how to minimize causes bad parenting if there’s any on poverty.

Causes of Poverty That Affect Parenting

Lack of Education

Most of our youth today can’t go to school because of poverty. Why? Because parents has no means for their children’s tuition to pay with and tendency for them  to mislead the path of having a good future, and just waiting for the support from other family members.

Unemployment

This is a big issue on poverty especially with parents having 2 kids or more. A work or a means for daily needs is very essential for us parents to give our children the basic needs.  If we don’t have income to support them what will happen? This is very disappointing for us parents that every single opportunity that a child must have they basically not experiencing.  

Early Pregnancy

As studied, poverty is the major cause why teenagers fall to pregnancy.[1] I think this must be included in early curriculum at early age of education in order them to know the consequences of early pregnancy which results to abortion of the baby.[2]

Hunger

It is so difficult to be a parent if you are poor. If you don’t have any resources to sustain daily basic needs like food, it will definitely affect parenting. That’s why parents are doing two or more job to meet all of those.  If a child missed one single meal they will suffer hunger and lead to sickness. When the child is raised poor they tend to do anything just to survive, mostly their studies are compromised[3] and the parent has no choice but to cry, and don’t mind what will be the consequences of their actions because they can’t do nothing.

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Lack of Access to Health

Since most of the poor do not receive a basic health topic, it causes a variety of illnesses, on which a parent must provide and because of poverty they just ignore it because they can’t do anything.  Malnutrition is the most common disease in people who suffer from poverty; this is because they lack a proper and nutritious diet.[4] If we, parents are poor, our children will suffer from illness and has minimal access to health development.

Lack of Education

Poverty has a big impact to us as parent. It is depressing and also affects all children or our children specifically speaking.  We cannot buy their needs especially in their education; we cannot enrol in a good school because of poverty. Especially now, time of new era, every person has mobile, iPod or tablets even a 2 or 3 year-old kid has. How do you imagine that if you are poor? Parent will always think that his/her child will be left behind if they don’t acquire one. Parents will do anything just to give their child those gadgets. Some will borrow money even they can’t afford to pay, that’s a parent be like today.  That’s the reality now called “new normal”. Everybody needs it and become necessity because education is now online, most children can’t afford and will stop studying and if not finish school this will lead to poverty of the next generation.

These are what we should usually pay attention to, if we parents can’t provide the basic for our children what will be the effect with their lives.  Mostly, these are the situations that cause poverty and affects parenting.  

Measures of the Home Environment and Maternal Characteristics on parenting

Physical/Mental Environment

Parenting is much more complicated nowadays because of the advanced technology and the neighbourhood where family is living in. Poor family normally are living the urban area like squatter on which affect children.  With regards to mental health, poor parent can’t buy any gadgets for their kids, but if you can’t buy that stuff, your child will benefit not to suffer from illness.  It was studied that addiction to various gadgets like mobile, laptops, tablets and even HD television had negative impact on mental health.[6] Using electronic might not be the sole leading cause to illness but significantly they do contribute to mental and physical disorders like obesity, sleep disorders, ophthalmic disorders and aggressive behaviour.[7]

Provision of learning experiences

Parents have the important role in the learning process of a child.  Child’s development must be supported by responsive parenting in order to provide strong foundation and must be involved in solving problem and to learn from their mistakes.

Warmth of the mother

Mother has always an important role in parenting. Showing the love everyday through saying “I love you” may result a positive outcome in the childhood of a kid.

Depression

Stress affects parents in some way in their parenting.  This will affect the child’s development which may lead to poverty.  If parents are depressed they can’t work at all, in the worst scenario may result to suicidal attempt.

Social Support

Social support helps a mother in parenting role. A mother needs someone who will listen to their sentimental when they are having a hard time.  This may help reduce stress and in result mother can act positively towards their children.

Coping

Parents should have a break and must have time for recreation to cope in the hardship of parenting, must see the positive side of everything. In every situation, there’s always a solution.  Don’t be stress instead pray and leave everything to God.

Most Common Parenting Challenges

Lack of Time

The pressure to parent perfectly keeps a lot of us awake at night, to see and check if they are okay.  We always think we have to be the best parent, how to raise our children in a descent and proper way. How to protect them?  We want the best for our kids and sometimes we find ourselves so busy and neglect them that we’ll ruin our children especially if our resources are very limited. We can’t say that parenting is neither easy nor hard. But good thing, there is God who will help us nurture our mind on how to parenting on how to manage our time between work and family.

Failure on Imparting Moral values

Bible quotes Matthew 7:9 “You parents – if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them stone instead? Of course not instead we will give them cake. That is the nature of a parent but what if parent can’t give them cake? What will happen? Parenting is a difficult task.  Yet, it is the very first commandment God gave Adam and Eve when He created them: to be fruitful and multiply. Me, as a Christian parent, I am supposed to raise my children to honour the Lord, while it is not easy. I always ask God for guidance on how to raise my children on a proper and fruitful way even life is more difficult now due Covid-19 pandemic. 

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Imbalanced Life

Now a days because of pandemic, everything is so costly, the basic needs: food, clothing, health care, shelter and education. If a parent has no means for these mentioned basic needs, what will happen to our children, they reared to poverty,[8] so as possible as we can our responsibility as parents is to look or find for many resources as we can to give them the best they deserve. We want the very desire of their heart. But sad thing most of parents can’t give the best because of poverty. We should balance everything.

Lack of Emotional Bonding

One of the most challenging roles of a parent even poor is the emotional bonding.  Most children love to be noticed and praised by parents.  If we neglect to do so they will tend to think another one who will feel the importance of them that’s the reason sometimes teenagers are longing to someone to love them and find this love to their opposite sex and lead to early pregnancy. As early as possible, we should build a good relationship with our kids to strengthen the bond until they reach adulthood.

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Insights from parents I asked about parenting on poverty in Quora.com

Below are some opinions, tips and suggestion on how does poverty affects parenting, directly from them answering my question topic. I am thankful that they gave some insights, and help me evaluate what really affects poverty on parenting.

N’dria N’re said that parents in poverty tends to teach their children to make mistakes and explore with resources.  My experience is anecdotal but in severe at risk and deeply impoverished schools, students were afraid to mess up the first time.  They took mistakes as unrecoverable failure. Instead of understanding why they messed up and doing a course correction they tend to be negative.  The students had to learn to be okay with making mistakes and learning how to recover emotionally.   Coping skills had to be embedded into every lesson at the middle school.

According to Mary Ratcliff, a full time mother, poverty while parenting makes one hundred times harder. This is why women should marry a man of means. An overwhelming majority of people in poverty are women who are single parents even though they make up half of the workforce.  Being poor are stressful enough, when you have children depending on you while in poverty it can’t be miserable.   It’s like trying to teach a kid how to read, but you only have one page to teach from.  It’s not impossible but for sure it is difficult.

Toni Black, a foster parent of 5 nieces and nephews, thought of a million things that can make parenting harder when you are poor but rather she will stick with the basic like:

  1. Time- this is the thing that majority of people forget about when they all struggling parents to just work more overtime. Because the more overtime you work the less time you have for everything else your children require from you. That and the more time you work, the more you childcare charge you. Most parents are lucky if they can find jobs that have perfectly opposite shifts with no overlap.
  2. Health-there are two ways to eat healthy spend more money and less time cooking, or spend less money but more time cooking, and risking your perishables going bad when you buy in bulk.

Canned goods and frozen meals are a huge reason why obesity is a problem today. Not every parent can spend 45 minutes cooking dinner when they are already stretched too thin. They also usually have limited access to healthcare if they do not live in an area that contributes to public health care as other areas do.Lack of support system- Low income parents usually come from low income families. Meaning that grandma and grandpa are probably just as busy with their work schedules and not anywhere close to an affordable retirement. Sibling often struggling just as much, means little to no support when little Timmy has to stay home for school for a week and there is no one to stay home with him.

Lack of interests- The best way to get your child interested things is to sign them up for extracurricular activities. These all cost time, and the good ones cost money. Lack of interest often leads to not having specific goals in career, which leads to poverty. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

Actual Interviews with my co-parent I’ve known personally

I asked my sister Jocelyn Bautista a mother of 3, ages’ ranges from 25 being the eldest, 21 the middle and the youngest is 16. This is her story.  “Poverty really affects me as a parent. I can sacrifice to work abroad just to give my children good future. But the result most of the time is not good.  Sometimes we are thinking that earning money from abroad for their education is the best way to raise them as good person but in my experience. It is still best to raise them by my own hand and by my self-guidance. I neglect their health needs. I neglect their needs for development of self-esteem which resulted to incompetence to face challenges of outside world. Thus, education of children without the parents’ guidance is not the key for success. It is still essential to be with the children even us are poor.  Even the child is naturally born intelligent, without the parent’s guidance, it will lead him to be insecure and dependent. I am thinking now, what if i didn’t work abroad? Maybe my son will be having enough confidence to work because he has nobody to depend with”.

In her story I would say that even we are poor still it is more important as parent to be on their side every now and then, for guidance and advice. Making money for their needs but not on their sides will not lead to good parenting.  In my opinion, time is more important than money because according to her, even she gives everything to their children but not physically present did not work as a good parent. Why her kids did not excel? They didn’t developed self-esteem. It’s up to us parents which is better, financially stable or emotionally fulfilled? That’s why it is so difficult parenting is, we want to give everything materially but the problem is if we are poor we need to work abroad to sustain the basic needs but emotionally the problem will arise if we are far from them.  That is life, so complicated.[9]  That is how poverty affects parenting.

The second interview I conducted is my college friend named Vilma Ariola, who is a mother of 2, the older is 13, and the next is 10 years old.  She explained that poverty affects parenting like; you cannot support all the needs of your children. You cannot enrol them on good schools. When we are poor, we will prioritize first food for the family. It also affects the health of its family members for not giving them the right nutrient on the food they eat. Also, it will affect the relationship of each family member, we as a parent need to make our child understand and learn to appreciate our situation. It is not so easy for us parent to deal with everyday life seeing other child what they have but our own have none. Parenting is difficult to us poor because we want our children to have those things we cannot provide. But we as parent, we have a role to make our children appreciate and explore even small things they have. Strive harder for their goals. It is also based to us parents to make this poverty easier for us. Poverty make it easier for us parenting mothers by helping our child to learn appreciate small things. Let them know the meaning of even a single drop of our sweat. For them to understand that poverty is not a hindrance to success.

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My opinion on her statement is that poverty can be easier [10] if we us parents will explain to our children to be contented on what they have, while we parents are striving for their basic needs and giving them everything but tell or explain them to learn and appreciate small things. Don’t strive or ask more than what we have, to make poverty not the issue of parenting. It is our obligation as parent to give our children the basic needs,[11] so it is our responsibility and accountability to make poverty not the issue of parenting.

The last parent I interviewed was Ms Ginger Tullao, a single parent and also working abroad, my colleague in my previous company.  She said that poverty is always an issue to most parents, especially to us single parent.  I don’t have a partner that will guide and help me while parenting my child.  I need to work abroad just to provide everything to my son.  That is a big factor in not fulfilling their role as a parent. Different issues may lead to stress for parents which can effect to children as well.  I am raising my child alone so I do need to work double time for my son future.  It is so hard.

My point of view on this is that when going into relationship we must think 100 time or 1000 times or even more, if the man we choose to love is responsible enough and will help you all throughout. If the two become one, poverty might be avoided.  In this situation early pregnancy has a big factor on how poverty affects parenting.  We have no choice but to move forward and be a single parent and do our role being a parent.

On this interview, I’ve learned that children not need material thing, they need our self-guidance, they need moral support and we must teach our kids to appreciate small things. We don’t need to go abroad just to make money for them if we teach them to be appreciative and not luxurious. Even us poor we can still give the best parenting.  There’s no such thing as bad parenting because I do believe that all parents will do the best for their kids like how God loves us unconditionally and so us parents too.

Final Thoughts

Family planning should be the focus of every endeavour on while preparing on having a baby. Parents should impart a thorough thinking if they can provide the children to avoid poverty because kids will suffer. It is important to consider first to know the consequences. Family planning should be promoted and incorporate in school curriculum at early age. Second solution I can think of is to have a law in government that one family should only have maximum of 2 children.[12] It will be easy to parent to plan and prepare for their future.


[1] Lambani, Matodzi Nancy. “Poverty the cause of teenage pregnancy in Thulamela municipality.” Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology 6.2 (2015): 171-176.

[2] Weck, Rebekah L., Tessie Paulose, and Jodi A. Flaws. “Impact of environmental factors and poverty on pregnancy outcomes.” Clinical obstetrics and gynecology 51.2 (2008): 349-359.

[3] Moore, Kristin A., et al. Children in poverty: Trends, consequences and policy options. Washington, DC: Child Trends, 2002.

[4] Peña, Manuel, and Jorge Bacallao. “Malnutrition and poverty.” Annual review of nutrition 22.1 (2002): 241-253.

[5] Klebanov, Pamela Kato, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, and Greg J. Duncan. “Does neighborhood and family poverty affect mothers’ parenting, mental health, and social support?.” Journal of Marriage and the Family (1994): 441-455.

[6] Muduli, Jyoti Ranjan. Addiction to technological gadgets and its impact on health and lifestyle: a study on college students. Diss. 2014.

[7] Hegde, Amitha M., et al. “Effect of electronic gadgets on the behaviour, academic performance and overall health of school going children-a descriptive study.” Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Sciences Research 7.1 (2019): 100-103.

[8] Prince, Debra Lindsey, and Esther M. Howard. “Children and their basic needs.” Early Childhood Education Journal 30.1 (2002): 27-31.

[9] Reyes-Soffer, Gissette, and Henry N. Ginsberg. “Life is complicated: so is apoCIII1.” Journal of lipid research 60.8 (2019): 1347-1349.

[10] Foster, James E., and Anthony F. Shorrocks. “Poverty orderings.” Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society (1988): 173-177.

[11] Prince, Debra Lindsey, and Esther M. Howard. “Children and their basic needs.” Early Childhood Education Journal 30.1 (2002): 27-31.

[12] Zeng, Yi, and Therese Hesketh. “The effects of China’s universal two-child policy.” The Lancet 388.10054 (2016): 1930-1938.

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Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas

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