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Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults?


 

Do you know how to get a library card?

Are your children participating in Little League, piano lessons, dance or soccer?
 
Do you help them with their homework?
 
If you are reading this blog, chances are good that you are middle class and that you easily answered Yes to these questions. 
 
That is because America operates from middle class norms. Our infrastructures – including schools, hospitals, large businesses and government programs - use middle class systems and assume middle class values that make education, savings, and home ownership central to decision making.
 
However, each class, whether it be middle, wealth or poverty, has its own set of hidden rules. Imagine how you would function in a different world where you didn’t understand the rules.
 
For example, can you order from a menu written in French after traveling in your private plane to a different continent for a meal? For most of us, the wealth class seems so foreign that we don’t spend any time worrying about how to operate in it.
 
Or how about this one –
 
Do you know how to get and use food stamps?

Do you know which restaurants put edible food in their alley dumpsters?

Do you move more than three times a year, and can you pack your apartment in half a day?
 
Then you do not understand the hidden rules well known in the poverty class. My point is that it is very difficult to learn to navigate in a different world with different rules and expectations, and that is exactly what we are expecting our teen moms to do when they break free from the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient.
 
 
100% of the teen mothers served through Hope House live well below the poverty line. Their lives are structured around survival.
 
Jobs are about making enough money to simply eat and survive -- not about building a career. Relationships are vital and traded upon as necessary. People are possessions, and there is great fear in losing relationships. “Time” occurs in the present and is flexible, not measured. Future thinking and planning do not exist.
 
Story-telling, a sense of humor, and entertainment are values (versus savings and education) because when surviving is paramount, entertainment is the only respite.
 
For our teen mothers to be successful in school, work and the community, they must learn the hidden rules of the middle class. Breaking generational patterns and learning to think differently are key (Do not conform to the patterns of this world any more, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2). And so we work hard to help our teen moms learn the language and rules of the middle class… a whole new world for most of them.
 
Visit our website to see what services we offer to help teen moms learn to navigate middle class systems. Or better yet, volunteer at Hope House and become a part of our transformational community as we strive to empower teen moms and change their future – and the future of their children!
 
 

 

 By Lisa Steven, Executive Director, Hope House of Colorado

 


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Blog Archives

September 2017

Knowledge Share #18: Engaging the Millennial Generation - 09/19/2017


August 2017

Knowledge Share #17: When the Dream Seems Too Big - 08/17/2017


July 2017

Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017


June 2017

Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017


April 2017

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017


March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017


February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017


January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017


November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016


September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016


August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016


July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016


June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016


May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016


April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016


March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016


February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016


January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016


December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015


October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015


July 2015

TEEN MOM BARRIER #6: GENERATIONAL POVERTY - 07/16/2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015


May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015


April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015


February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015


January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015


December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014


October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014


September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014


July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014


June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014


May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014


April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014


March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014


February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014


January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014


December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013


November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013


September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013


August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013


July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013


June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013


May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


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Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home ea ...   [more]

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home each ...   [more]

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
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