Nov. 17, 2014
There are many challenges all people face through life. Some are more difficult and substantially more frequent than others. Also overcoming these challenges can seem unrealistic do to the fact the behaviors learned through generations are very difficult to break. I am going to discuss the factors involved in overcoming generational poverty and the unique challenges women face through different life stages. Through my work I hope to gain knowledge of these special populations that will improve my understanding and benefit me as a professional and individual. As we begin, I would like to start with the characteristics of people dealing with generational poverty. Families in generational poverty are usually large, the more people there are the more money they have coming in and this also means they have more help for the aging parents. (Born with a wooden spoon: welcome to poverty U.S.A.) This special population is found to have no concept of the future or careers; their lifestyles consist of surviving in the moment. With that said they are more likely to have low levels of education and underdeveloped cognitive skills. There isn’t much of a chance for the generational poverty population to move upward. Women at a young age bear children who keep them in the cycle of poverty and its culture in turn it is instilled in the new generation. Women of generational poverty are more likely to run the household and men come and go. “Generational poverty is a mindset” and money will not break the pattern and solve the problem. (Born with a Wooden Spoon: Welcome to Poverty U.S.A.) The government’s main solution is paid work but this is not a solution to income maintenance and family well-being. (Understanding the Depth of Challenges People Face, slide 11) To overcome the barriers of generational poverty we must look at what can be done to break the learned behavior. We see that at a young age children are not being taught to be hopeful of the future or plan for something better. Schools can be used as a very important resource. Schools can teach hope to these children. First by public schools and preschools offering a safe place to learn. A child’s school can become a place where they can feel safe, a place where they can get food when they are hungry, and build trust with adults. Providing these basic needs to the children of generational poverty will begin to teach them that there is hope and good in the world. This will provide a beginning of the knowledge that will enable them to be able to make a choice on their own situation. However hopelessness that has taken over people’s lives when faced with poverty is very damaging. Personal barriers of concern that people of generational poverty face are stress, isolation, low self-esteem, and inadequate parenting competence, in turn these barriers lead to even larger issues. Isolation first off is a large issue. How can people get help if they have completely isolated themselves and how do we reach them? Stress and low self-esteem continue the lifestyle of survival and keep this population in the cycle of just do what you need for the moment. Many will be introduced to government services through probation or incarceration. Some will be seeking assistance for food, income, or other basic needs. As professional helpers we need to show sensitivity towards these clients and offer effective services. Support with planning and organizing is needed to take control of ones life and maintain a change for a better future. Following this further, effective services will consist of teaching people of generational poverty to persevere through difficult times and by assisting them in not giving up. Because of the mindset of survival they are lacking the motivation and energy needed to be goal oriented. Planning for the future will teach this population hope that will give them the power to have control over their lives. Transitional shelters and subsidized housing will provide a way out of an abusive or negative living environment. This can give them a chance at a new start and be in a place where they are assigned to a worker where more resources will become available. I’ve learned that people of generational poverty have a fear of the “system” so I understand that healthy life choices are not easily made. The sad truth is that generational poverty is a highly difficult and complex problem. On the other hand I do feel that barriers can be broken with courage and hope. Before writing this and researching this population I was unaware of the issues of the mindset instilled in the people dealing with generational poverty. I look back at my childhood and I can see some of the same characteristics surrounding my family. My parents never taught us to look forward or plan for the future. My sisters and I learned to just survive. I remember thinking why do I want to survive? What is the reason for surviving? I never thought we could have more than what we did, truthfully I never thought about it. Unfortunately one of my sisters decided not to survive. She committed suicide at the age of thirteen. When I try to find any understanding in what had happened I look at what her death did for my other sister and myself and then later for our children. Both my older sister and I ended up leaving our parents shortly after my younger sister had ended her own life. I was put into a group home and juvenile facility where I was taught hope for the future and the importance in education for the first time. My older sister took a different route but was able to choose a better life as well. Now she holds a high position within a good company and was able to buy a home. My children and my sister’s children are taught to have hope and a plan for the future. Education and its importance has bee taught to our children at a very young age. We took upon ourselves to break the patterns of generational poverty and we didn’t even know we were doing it. I definitely have a better understanding of how thick the barriers can be and I will be more sensitive to the needs of my future clients. As a woman myself I can relate to some of the challenges we may face through different life stages. Lets begin with adolescence and the challenges these young women face. A young woman may feel the pressures to conform to stereotypes about her appearance from her family, peers or society. There are also pressures to achieve academically and socially in a way that she may need to prove herself as an equal. These pressures can push her into high risk drinking, unprotected sex, and an unhealthy body image. In 2001 over 22% of young women reported high to very high psychological distress, almost twice the rate of males. (Life Stages, The Department of Health) I also found that close to a third of the troubles of disease are due to anxiety and depression for young women. That’s some heavy pressure for a young lady trying to find her place in the world. Making it through adolescence a woman takes on some new challenging tasks. When she reaches her sexual maturity or reproductive stage she will make the decision to have children, have a family, a career, all of the above, or not. Balancing work and a family can be very stressful and draining. A woman usually takes on more of the caring responsibilities for the family and children. On the other hand choosing not to have a family and children can bring stress due to the extended family’s opinions and the views from society. Women will deal with old views from older generations as well. Before the 70’s women weren’t likely to pursue a higher education and hold high positions in the work force. Some other obstacles women face are gaining leadership roles and sexual harassment. Women have taken great strides in becoming empowered in and out of the work place. From what I have read I see that women have to be more sensitive than men to make sure what they are portraying of themselves is not negative. I find that one of the biggest challenges for woman may be herself. Her “angel in the house”, a term used to explain how thoughts that society, family, and men, have influenced how she should behave as a women. The gender roles we take on from a young age may haunt us later. We care about how we are perceived and it affects us. In a man's world showing authority and being assertive are looked at as good leadership. A woman has to be careful that she is not too aggressive or too weak. Men have welcomed women into the work force but still are more likely to mentor and promote a younger version of themselves. (Women in the Workplace) Another challenge a woman might face is the amount of pay offered for the same type of work. In lower educational jobs men can get jobs with higher pay. For instance an uneducated women will take a job as a waitress, housekeeper, or nanny. A man will be able to do construction or management because he is a man. This brings women faced with a decision , pursue a higher education and establish a career or marry a man who will provide for you. If a woman decides to marry and be dependent on her husband she is taking the risk of later in life being abandoned with little opportunity. A woman also has a longer life expectancy than a man, so she has a higher chance at being widowed and left with financial responsibilities. At an elderly age a woman may face problems with health insurance or Medicare. Women are more likely to suffer from debilitating chronic illness than men, which causes a problem when Medicare is aimed towards, care for acute illnesses and fails to provide long-term care. I feel that after gaining more knowledge of what challenges women face throughout life I will be better aware of how different stages of life affect a person. Being a women I do know that these challenges are real and I understand that. After doing the research for this paper I found that acknowledgement has been very helpful. The acknowledgement of these challenges has reminded me of all that women go through on a daily basis. I’ve realized that being a single parent has caused me to form a hard shell towards men. The way I deal with challenges, as a woman sometimes is to just isolate myself from them. I’ve also realized how unhealthy that is and workings on myself as a woman will help me to better help other women.
Life Stages, The Department of Health. (2011). Retrieved from http:// http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/womens-health-policy-toc~womens-health-policy-social~womens-health-policy-social-det~womens-health-policy-social-det-life
University of Phoenix. (pg.1). Born with a Wooden Spoon: Welcome to Poverty U.S.A.. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, http://digital.films.com/PortalViewVideo.aspx?xtid=36501&loid=44003, website.
University of Phoenix. (n.d.). Understanding the Depth of Challenges People Face [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/Materials/IP/curriculum/social-sciences/BSHS345/docs/bshs345_r1_week3_understanding_challenges_people_face.ppt.
Woman in the Workplace: 3 Unique Challenges Women Face . (2014). Retrieved from https://www.workintelligent.ly/workstyle/work-life-balance/2014-8-1-women-in-the-workplace/