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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

January 2018

Organizational Growth Cycles: Stages that Lead to a Mature Nonprofit - 01/23/2018

November 2017

Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime - 11/20/2017

October 2017

Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking - 10/12/2017

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


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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