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Parenting in Poverty

Parenting is stressful—there’s no argument there. However, parenting in poverty takes that stress to another level. What may be inconvenient for a parent of medium-income and wealth could be crippling, both emotionally and financially, for a parent and family living in poverty. Many factors contribute to the cycle of family poverty: unemployment, social group or socioeconomic status, location, underemployment, and more. 

When a family experiences stress, financially or otherwise, that puts a strain on spousal or parenting relationships. This stress between parents or partners can put stress on parents, causing them to give less attention or guidance to your children. This can lead to negative behaviors in your child such as acting out, lack of warmth, withdrawal, or displaying aggression and hostility. 

According to a 2000 McClelland study, there are three identifiable impacts that poverty can have on parents and children: 

  • Hardship and stress
  • Isolation and exclusion 
  • Long-term impacts into adulthood 

People with insufficient income struggle to purchase or obtain basic needs such as housing, food, healthcare, utilities, and more. The impact of this manifests in a household of stress where juggling finances becomes the most important task. While you’re trying to make it work, you and your family’s emotional health is being neglected. 

Homelessness is one of the most extreme manifestations of isolation and stress. Homelessness does not just refer to not having a home, it translates to a mental state as well. If someone is feeling neglected by their parent or partner, the feeling of isolation only deepens. Families with a low income are less likely to live in a clean and safe neighborhood, have access to transportation and living wage employment, be involved in extracurricular activities such as music or sports, or go on vacations. 

Poverty can lead to long-term impacts such as low school and job performance, therefore, making it more difficult to earn a living wage. This then creates a cycle that can last for generations. 

Systems are often designed in a way that does not encourage success. However, there are options that you can use to empower yourself and your family. Enrolling in a parenting class or financial literacy course could significantly impact your perspective on your finances. Having a professional help you with a budget can help put you on track to higher credit and income. By empowering yourself and your finances, you set your family, and your children, up for success.

For more information on poverty resources visit