Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Consequences of Stress on Children’s Development

Choose one stressor that you, or someone you know, experienced as a child. Share how you, or that person, coped with and/or compensated for that stressor (including any resources used or any support obtained).

As a young child, I have fond memories of my mother, older brother, and I going out on the weekends together because she worked all week. She was, ironically enough, the director of a youth center. On occasion, my brother and I would go with her to her job and play with the other children, but for the most part we were cared for by our neighbor until she finished work. My mother worked hard to provide for us and kept a roof over our head. But sometimes food and electricity was not an option.
I chose to speak about my experience with poverty because this social issue touches many American families every second of the day. Not until I was in my late teens did I realized we were poor earlier in life. There were times where peaches and was a meal or, thankfully, our neighbors home was a place for us to eat. Looking in our window, it would not have appeared to many that we were poor, but we had some rough times. And through it all, my mother worked and prayed, and accepted donations from family and community resources(food pantries,etc) when they were offered. My mother has never been a selfish woman, which is why, looking back even at that age, I knew we would be alright. Fortunately, it did not have a long term negative effect on me. It did however, make me appreciate and empathize with people I see who are homeless and without food.

Choose a region or country in the world that you would like to know more about and/or for which you have a special affinity. Find out, and describe, the kind of stressor(s) that impact the development of children in that region/country and what is being done to minimize the harm.

I am choosing Louisiana as a topic of discussion for poverty because; we don’t have to go out of the country to see the tremendous effects poverty has on a community. Right here in our own front yard, forget about our backyard, there is a serious issue that must be addressed with urgency. Even before Hurricane Katrina stuck this part of our nation, there were very real issues of poverty. It was only through the devastation of Katrina that the world over saw the ugly face of poverty and economic disparity at its worst.
When you think about stressors that impact children living in poverty it are not hard to identify three immediately; hunger, poor living conditions, and poor educational conditions. I was searching the internet and school library and found a few articles, but the one that gave the most insight to the issue of poverty came from a 2005 census bureau report that stated,
“…The highest percentages of children in this age group [under the age of 5] living in poverty were found in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia…”
There are different organizations, including the Children’s Defense Fund, who are trying desperately to eliminate poverty and the effects in lower income communities by providing funds and resources for families and communities to improve themselves not just as individuals, but as a whole community and nation. Others include, but are not limited to; Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Charities'.

Breaden, M. (2008). CHILD POVERTY. Education Week, 27(20), 5. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.


  1. Kali, thank you for sharing your heartwarming story. Your mother sounds like a wonderful, selfless person. You post brought to mind just how much poverty there is in the U.S. I truly feel for those suffering. I am also thankful everyday for all I have. We had some difficult times when I was younger, but not nearly as bad as many others had it. My grandparents had a farm, and between the garden and beef from their cattle, we were well fed.

  2. Kali,

    I appreciate that you chose Louisiana to talk about. You are right, we don't have to look far to see hurting, poor people. My parents and brothers were victims of Hurrican Katrina. I appreciate your sharing this very personal story. I know it can be painful to bring up these kinds of memories.

    Like you, we were also poor growing up and didn't have food and utilities were often cut off due to lack of payment. However, I never saw myself as poor. What part do you feel that parents play in their children's perception that they are poor?

  3. Kali,

    Like you, I grew up poor. My parents were high school juniors when they had me. After high school, my parents had 3 more children. Clearly, my parents did not have occupation to support us. My relatives took turns to babysit us when needed. My grandmother always bought us clothes every year for school as well as school supplies. The poverty continued with us until I graduated high school. Because my parents divorced, we, the children, stayed with our mother. My father refused to pay child support, so we lived on my mother's meagerly 9 dollar per hour income. I remember growing up with no heat and very basic foods (ie: spaghetti, hot dog, cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter and jelly, few fruits). Although based on economic status we were poor, we were happy children. We finished high school and went onto colleges. To this day, my mother is still under poverty category because she was forced to retired early due to her back. The first two oldest children (my sister and I) help pay my mother's needs as well as our younger sisters'.

    Glad you mentioned Louisiana. The other day, I visited newspapers museum in DC and a lot of the work focused on Louisiana and Mississippi along with Hurricane Katrina. These photographs showed poverty and powerful emotions. Sometimes, we forget poverty is everywhere in our own country. Is it pride that our country holding to overlook the poverty class? My relatives were victims of Hurricane Katrina. Its impact on my relatives was greater than we realized. It was heartbreaking and in fact, I do not think my relatives ever receive counseling.

  4. Thank you ladies,

    For Susan:
    It must have been fun to actually grow and feed your own food. I imagine as you get older you were able to appreciate things a lot more than people who were just able to go to the fridge and pick wha they felt like eating.

    For Carole:
    How are your parents and brother doing in the aftermath? I think that the adults in a child's life play the most important role in how poverty is perceived. If the adults "O! woe is me!" all day, without showing the child love and supoprt, it makes life even more difficult. Like I expressed above, my mother would always find time to take us somewhere for family fun.

    For Chrissy:
    I think poverty is our "dirty little secret", but it is coming to the surface, so we must begin to address it and solve the problem. I have so much respect for you and your siblings for stepping up and suporting your mom in her time of need. I always wonder with the state of the world now, how many children growing up in this generation will actually thikn enough of the world to help their parents or anyone else for that matter.

  5. Kali thanks for sharing. As I was reading your post I am reminded that many of us are a paycheck away from poverty. I did not suffer many hard times growing up, but I have suffered some hard times in raising my own children, but God is awesome. I agree also that we don't have to go far away in other countries to experience poverty it is right here in our back yards.

  6. Hi Jamie,

    He is indeed an awesome Provider!