Poor Through The Generations

Revanche at A Gai Shan Life wrote about Generational Poverty last Monday and I just got around to reading it when Funny About Money linked to in Another Rainy Day Roundup on Saturday.

As I read the title, I thought to myself… so that’s what it’s called… generational poverty.  Both my husband and I come from long lines of poor people, and family members are still carrying on the tradition.  Heck, I feel like Mr. A and I are carrying on the tradition some days!!  I have two sisters who are living on government assistance and unwilling (unable?) to do what it takes to get off welfare.  Mr. A has a sibling that is basically homeless.  I have been there… barely surviving.  And then someone would give me $25 for my birthday that month, and being too honest and afraid I’d be found out, I’d tell the welfare office about the $25 and the next month we’d get less in food stamps.  It’s like they give you just enough to be able to make it, but if you get a job working minimum wage now you have to work and barely make it.  Sometimes medical conditions have to be taken into account, with some pre-existing conditions you can’t get medical coverage so you have to stay on government assistance for your medical care. You are truly held back when you rely on someone else to support you in the first place.

I am bowled over by Revanche’s ability to support herself and her family.  So admirable… so many people makes tons of money and blow it, but Revanche supports two families. I cannot imagine, and yet part of me wishes we made that much money to do the same.

Have read Revanche’s post, FB over at Fabulously Broke in the City wrote a post of her own about generational poverty in Would You Let Your Parents Move In With You?  She says she will never let her mother live in a rest home.  She made me laugh reading how her mother prepared her from a small child to accept the responsibility of caring for her parents when they grow old.  FB asked her readers, “What about you? Have you thought about what you would do if your parents couldn’t live alone?”

I have always assumed I will be the one to care for my mother when she becomes too old to live on her own.  My mother currently lives on government assistance, too.   My stepfather and she were married for over a decade, and they had children together.  He refused to pay child support once they were divorced and my mother has never remarried. When he died, my mother was eligible for supplemental security income and she manages on that amount each month.  It is a great stressor to her not having much money. Especially near the end of the month, she becomes more agitated and nervous with the lack of money.

My mom took care of her mother, mostly because my mother was in the field of home care nursing and she saw first hand how the elderly are sometimes not cared for so well.  My mother could never let her mother go to a nursing home, and when my grandmother could no longer live by herself, my mom moved Grandma into her home and took care of her for ten hard years. My Grandma had Alzheimer’s most of those years, and most of the time didn’t even know my mother. Luckily for my mom, my Grandma worked very hard for decades, working for the state and had a very nice pension built up which my mom was able to live on for those years.  I understand that Grandma had close to $3000 per month coming in, plus she’d put back close to $50,000 in savings, and this was because she lived so frugally. That was a lot of money for a household which didn’t have any credit card debt, loans, car payment or a mortgage.  I don’t begrudge my mom having that money.  Although if my Grandma had been in control, there would have been at least $100,000 in the bank when she passed away, instead of nothing. My mother, not so good with saving money. Honestly I don’t know how or where she managed to spend all that the money as my Grandma was in fairly good health and did not take any medications in her later years, and rarely saw the doctor. She lived to be 93.

I can’t imagine ever sending my mother to a rest home.  I don’t have the money to set her up in a good home, and she doesn’t have money of her own.  The homes I have seen where the person has only government assistance for income are sad indeed.

My husband and I have discussed the situation and he knows that my mother will come to live with us at some point in time.   We’ve talked about how we need to get some kind of a cottage or studio apartment built expressly for that purpose.

Sometimes I wish she could come live with us now. The problem is that she has a significant other who is a hateful and unpredictable person. She has been with him for over two decades.  He’s basically worthless.  He can’t get along with anyone, so he can’t hold a job, and they live a poverty stricken life. She and I have talked about how he won’t be coming, when she has to, because half the time she can’t stand him any more than anyone else can.

My mom does own her home, so she at least has that asset.   When she sells her home, she will have some money to put in the bank.  My mom actually digs the idea of living here with us, because she loves to garden and she loves having chickens.

I know it won’t be the funnest thing in the world to have my mom living right close to us all the time, but sometimes when I think about it, I think it will be pretty neat.  I would really like to build her a small studio apartment and put her on a section of our land so that she has her own little area, where my siblings can come and visit her as they wish without having to interrupt my life.

That was one very sad thing about my Grandma’s last years.   My mom’s partner is so hateful he has managed to alienate most everyone in the family. I cannot hardly stand to visit my mom because I know I have to deal with him. So my Grandma didn’t get many visits from the family because of Mr. Jerk.  Not that she really noticed it much, since she had Alzheimer’s.

Anyway.  You should go now and read FB’s post because it’s a lot more entertaining than my sorry tale.

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7 comments to Poor Through The Generations

  • I think it really depends on the family and the situation. But I think for the most part I’d take my parent’s in if I had too. Luckily for me they are both super healthy now. Let’s hope they keep it up!

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  • As an only child of a single parent I just assume I’ll be taking my mother in, if need be. However, she is only sixteen years older than me so we may both be headed into the nursing home together as I have no children and don’t plan on having any.

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  • Thanks for the mention and sharing your own story. It took a while to figure out what to call it, having only felt it for many years but never having really named it aloud. Despite knowing there are good, rational reasons my mom shouldn’t live with us, and specifically for her health, it’s still a hard conclusion to live with. I really hope you get to bring your mom into your home sooner rather than later!

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  • You have a very moving story! This is one of the reasons I’m determined to get out of debt, for the sake of my family. I’d like to be able to care for my aging parents and also bless my kids with a good start in life. I’m glad I found your blog, and I’ll be visiting often. Thanks for the encouraging work you’ve done here!
    Best wishes.

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  • A couple of things I’ve noticed about family generations. Firstly is you live what you learn. If you grew up on welfare you are more likely to continue on welfare in your adult life. If you grew up with shopkeeper parents your odds of being a shopkeeper too was pretty good. The second thing about people being poor is something I don’t understand. Why do poor people have more drama in their lives?

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Ryan, honestly I think it has to do with diet. People who are poor tend to eat more carbohydrates and less nutritious foods. Life can be more chaotic when you are poor, and if your brain isn’t functioning properly from malnutrition that only complicates matters. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy food that is more nutritious.

    [Reply]

    Ryan Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability, Funny how things come around. You talk about food and nutrition and I’m reading “Eat to Live” and “The China Study”. Coincidence? BTW, very helpful reading! I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last couple of weeks.

    [Reply]

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