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The Surest Path to Poverty

March 11th, 2018 at 02:58 pm

According to the Brookings Institute, the surest path to get out of poverty is to do 3 things. Finish high school, get a job, and get married before having babies. Well, yet another one of my nieces is setting herself on a course to never getting out of poverty. She is 18 and pregnant. I guess she had to do her sister, who was 19 when she got pregnant, one better. At least they finished high school. But being an unwed teenage mother means they are unlikely to ever dig themselves out of the hole they currently reside in. If one does it will be the younger, but considering how they were raised, I don't think so.

Niece 1 is now on her own, having recently left her boyfriend. Her only job is watching her older half-sister's kids. Niece 2 has a catering job that requires a lot of heavy lifting, so she likely won't be able to continue in that job after a few more months. They have decided to get an apartment together. Niece 2 may have to drop out of college.

These girls knew about and had access to birth control. Free birth control because of their income level. While accidents can happen, if you are using the condom with spermicide and the pill it is really, really unlikely unless you are extremely careless.

SIL's family is such a train wreck. These are the ones that got violent over the holidays and we refuse to do Christmas and Thanksgiving with now. I do not understand how DH and SIL could be raised by the same set of parents and one be stable and solid with good values and one be so far off the boards. I guess her daughters didn't really have a chance. Rotating men after she divorced their father and then when she finally did have a steady boyfriend he was a married man. And their father has kids all around the state with different women, none of which he married.

All I know is that when I watched my sister do something similarly stupid (get married at 19 and get pregnant immediately) I swore to myself I'd never let it happen to me. When she had to leave her abusive husband and come home with her first born child and dig herself out of poverty via welfare and Pell grants to the technical college, I swore I'd do everything in my power not to put myself in a situation like that where I would have to struggle financially for years. It was so hard for her, but she did do it. She had the support of the whole family, though, and these girls do not.

I cannot imagine being niece 2 and having watched her sister go through this, and being on her way through college, deciding that being careless about birth control could ever be a good idea. You learn through your sister's mistakes. You don't repeat them.

Maybe niece 2's boyfriend will stick around for a year or two. Maybe he'll even see it out. Or maybe he'll go the way of niece 1's boyfriend, with no job, refusing to grow up, playing video games all day, and smoking pot. My faith in this family's choices seems to indicate it will be the latter, although niece 2's boyfriend is quite a bit older so maybe he'll do right by the child.

It is one thing to be an older, established, single woman who decides to get pregnant. While I still think it is better to be married and raise a kid in a two parent household, if your finances are in order and your support system is in place, then that is a choice that is relatively valid to make, though I think it puts your kid at a disadvantage. When you do it as a teenager, it can take all of your future choices away from you and you may never get them back. And what kind of life will you be providing for your child?

I just get so frustrated. I've tried to help this family for years and I kept my judgments to myself to their faces. I'd rant on here from time to time, but I never let it show in real life. Now I've just given up on the whole lot of them. Not because of this, because of Thanksgiving. I just worry for the babies. They will have no stability in their lives. But what are you going to do? You can't live people's lives for them. You can't force them to make good choices. You can only watch or choose not to watch at all.

4 Responses to “The Surest Path to Poverty”

  1. Tabs Says:

    Uh, yeah, those are some very frightening situations. Hopefully, they will find a way out of it though, but it's not going to be easy for sure.

  2. Bluebird Says:

    Wow. I grew up poor, my sister (who is 18 months older than me) got pregnant at 18 (unmarried), got marrried, had a very hard life. Fortunately, sister is good now and did a great job raising my niece, who is now a doctor, married, etc. Because of that, and wanting to be financially secure, I had kids at 35 and 37.

  3. Jenn Says:

    I wish teenaged girls in that situation would choose adoption. It offers a big silver lining to that cloud: the baby has a chance at a wonderful life, an infertile couple has an opportunity to have a family, and the young girl can more easily turn her life around.

  4. rob62521 Says:

    Glad you learned from other's mistakes so you didn't repeat them. That being said, it sounds like your nieces probably think things are going to be different and don't pay attention. You worked hard to better yourself.

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