Monday, April 06, 2009

Pregnancy, poverty, and identity

Sociology professor delves into why poor women find redemption in having a baby | The Columbia Daily Tribune - Columbia, MO

The story above has highlights from some interesting research around poverty, pregnancy, and identity.

One question to consider:  why would having a child increase the sense of purpose for poor women more so than middle or upper class women?


  1. Maybe if they have a low-paying job that they don't feel is very important or their employer leaves them feeling unimportant, than having a child that totally depends on you could add a sense of purpose that otherwise may not exist.

    Also, maybe with the low income (from a presumably low-paying job) there is a lot they feel that they are unable to accomplish. So, by having a child they feel an accomplishment and importance of some sort.

  2. Anonymous11:23 AM

    Women in a poor family household uses the child as income because the child is paid for by the government. In return the government pays for housing, food and clothing of the women and children. Children born of the middle and or upper class are a burden because it costs them to raise a child and the government does not give much help to those families.

  3. In a world that may seem bleak or without hope it may be the only thing they have to live for. The biological imperative takes over to "do what you have to do" for the safety and well being of your child. The author tells us that for these women, having a man in their lives is simply a complication, a greater stress than just having a child out of wedlock.

    One young woman stated that "having a baby saved my life". Maybe because she quit living a risky lifestyle. She had something to live for so it was time to "put up or shut up", so to speak.

  4. I'm not sure who the "Anonymous" is, but I believe that assessment is overly simplistic. The motivation for such behavior is a little more complex.

    When the comments here are taken in totality, I think we have a more accurate picture of the motivations of these women; oddly enough consistent with the findings of the research.

  5. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Poor people don't have much sense of a purpose. I mean, you find that through your job (home life or marriage, and this was referring to single people) I assume also they have a low paying job, and that alone, you're paid what you're "worth". They can walk through life feeling like they are not contributing to the world. Having a baby, you BECOME that child's world. You are everything, to them.
    One said it saved her life. That doesn't have to necesssarily do with risky lifestyle, it could just be that she was given a life. Purpose. Of the greatest kind.
    Middle class and upperclass have an easier time finding purpose and happiness and meaning in other areas of their life, as well, so it might not increase for them so much as someone who feels they have nothing.
    And something to be proud of.

  6. Good thoughtful comments folks: AppleGooncha, Anonymous, Karee, and Jessie!

  7. Brittany12:45 PM

    Sorry Anonymous, but I'm going to have to disagree with you. As a mother and someone who would be considered 'poor', I did not have my child to live off her. Maybe some people do, but I don't think that's the point of the article. Girls that come from the poorest neighborhoods in the country have little to live for and little hope of ever 'getting out' of those communities. They more than likely don't have parents that stress the importance of a good education or a good job. These girls are also looked down upon by society, they have no reason to feel good about themselves.
    Women from the middle and upper classes are proud of their educational backgrounds, jobs, and even their place in society. Although having a baby makes every woman feel like she has purpose, for poor woman, this is often the only positive thing in their life.

  8. Kaley W6:51 PM

    I agree with Jessie. Poor people usually feel no sense of well-being or reason to live, given the fact that they have a low paying job and probably have not made much of themselves. Having a child gives them a reason to live, it brings happiness to them and when you are happy you can accomplish many things. These people also probably feel that they need to provide a better life for their baby. So they get up and try harder not only for the baby but for themselves. Like Jesse said, middle and upper class people already have found a sense of happiness (probably through money and having the "nice" things)...OR we could look at the other side and say that the poor have not been very well informed and just do not care.

  9. Anonymous10:41 PM

    I think that it is because poor people feel as though they have nothing to gain. But when you add a child to the mix it gives you a reason to work that much harder and try to set a better example for you baby as they grow up. I know that when I was in the Army for some of the single moms that is what they were trying to do. They came in poor, and they wanted their children to know that they could do many things. Also, for people that are not poor it is still a challange but they are more financially stable. Robert Askins