Sep 20, 2011

Do low income families need better parenting skills?

I read an article today that was titled, Are Poor Parents Poorer at Parenting?  Just the title made me a little angry because I don't see how income really makes parents good, bad or needing improvement.  Even though I was angry I decided to read the article and to give it a chance; I'm seriously an optimist at times!  To be honest, the article was not half bad and did touch on the fact that even middle class and upper class families can use some parenting help.  It got me thinking, How many people actually feel this way about low income families?

Technically, we aren't poor.  We have a roof over our heads, we have food to eat, my daughter goes to a great school, she gets an education and she has clothes to wear.  However, we feel poor since we struggle very often. We live from paycheck to paycheck and sometimes we have to look between the couch cushions or in old purses for some change when times get very bad.  Even so, my kids want for nothing.  We may have to get food that's cheap just to make it through, we may have to use coupons and we may even have to shop at yard sales for my girls clothing; but that doesn't make me a bad parent.  In actuality, that makes me a parent that tries, in every way, to give my kids what they need.  I'm not ashamed that we have to cut corners to make ends meet because most people do, even if they don't want to admit it. 

Are there poor parents who need parenting help?  Of course there are.  There are many parents out there who don't try or don't want to try.  Those are the parents who don't have a job and don't want to have a job or parents who don't care about their child's education.  However I feel that it's a stereotype that low income families don't care about their kids educations or don't parent well.  There are many middle class families or upper class families that don't have the best parenting methods either.  There are some upper class parents who pawn their children off on tutors or nannies just so they can have their own lives.  (I'm not saying all, but there are some out there.)

I actually found more problems with the comments than with the article itself.  One reader said:

It seems to me that children who grow up poor have a more obvious and more urgent set of issues to contend with than those who are raised with abundance
Again, that's a stereotype.  Some children from low income families may have issues to contend with, but that's because of how the parents parent and how  the parents treat their children.  That has nothing to do with the fact that the family is low income.  My girls know that we struggle and know we live paycheck to paycheck but they understand that I work hard to give them what they have.  I'm very involved with them, their schooling and their activities and my girls never feel that I neglect anything in their lives.  Not all low income families struggle with frequent relocation, most struggle with money for rent, but have a stable environment. 

There really are so many generalizations about parents who are poor or low income and it really frustrates me.  I feel that most low income families work the hardest to ensure that their children have everything they want, despite the lack of money.  I'm not saying they are better than anyone else, but they do work extremely hard and deserve more credit than they do get.  They deserve to be commended instead of criticized and stepped on.  

It's not the income of the families that defines who they are; it's the parents and the way they parent that is most important.

What is your opinion on this?
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