When a child comes into the world it is up to the responsible parties to help that child become a productive citizen. When the child is born, most parents have some idea of the expected end or the intended results of the child. It is not uncommon to hear a parent say, “This is my little teacher, lawyer, doctor” or something of that nature. Many parents open a savings account for the child’s education as soon as the child is born. They do all of this to ensure that the child has a productive life. When the under-resourced parent has a baby they have the same aspirations as the ones with means. However, in many cases the day the under-resourced baby is born he starts on a downward spiral and will never realize a life without poverty.
In many cases, only a few hours after an under-resourced baby comes into the world he comes with some agency. The baby has to have a car seat to leave the hospital; a bed most likely is usually needed along with other pertinent baby items. The person of means can purchase what they need and they also have the benefit of family and friends to give them baby showers, which helps them to acquire other things they may need. Poor mothers have very little help from family or friends.
Many poor children see inside of an agency before they see inside of a department store. When they are old enough to go to a store, it is usually a corner store. Many do not see cash money; they only see Food Stamps or EBT swipe cards. When the child enters school, most are already certified for free lunch (in Title One schools everyone attending receives free lunch). This is all they know. This is what they see where they live.
These same struggling families commonly live in substandard or subsidized housing. For this group, it is hard for them to move out of this cycle of poverty without close attention and proper guidance. Living in these conditions are comfortable to them and it is hard for them to realize the need to acquire job skills and earn money.
On last week the questions arose: How do you work with children and adults who have been influenced with so much negativity which in turn effects the total environment? How do you get them to make a positive change in their lives?
The easy answer to this would be to say that there’s nothing that anyone can do because of the complex situation communities find themselves in due to poverty. It is like flying over a city looking at the total devastation, which seems impossible to fix. But once a lot of engineers get together and map out the steps to repair the city, you will soon see progress. The key to their success is moving in one direction and taking one step at time. One thing is for sure: the area has to be cleared before new work can begin.
We have established that these problems usually start the day the child is born and continue to go throughout the life of that individual if there is no intervention (engineers). Interventions are possible with commitment, and a desire to help is half of the game. You may have noticed that I did not say that the needy person has to be willing even though they must be; it is up to us to create the environment.
For every gift given or program ran, there must be positive conversation with the person about change. If it is a baby car seat, for example, the conversation would be letting the individual know that you know they will go back to school and get a job as soon as the baby is old enough. That, in turn, builds great expectations with the parent and the child from the very beginning. You also have to talk with the persons you are involved on an ongoing basis. A new consistent confirming language is important.
Using the tools you have such as having the person visit with you as often as possible, letter writing, calling, texting and the likes are all ways to help. Introduce parents and children to good material to read. Introduce them to new people and situations that will help broaden their vocabulary. Always remember that this is not overnight; helping needy people has to be a lifetime commitment. That’s why you should take on only a few people at a time.
Remember to use only a few choice words that will highly impact the person you are helping. Once, I was helping a young man understand life I said, “Life is like the earth, it keeps turning around and you must figure out what to do to stay on”. He still remembers that and he doing great. Old sayings are great ways to give someone a handle to hold on to. Sayings like, “A stitch in time will save you nine.”
Lastly, keep encouraging parents and children that most of the world uses a common language. On the other hand, the language they use when “kicking it” with the boys and girls is not the same one used in the marketplace or the general populous. It takes too long for the population to catch up with a language by the majority. Helping your client to understand this is time well spent.