Breaking the poverty cycle through parenting


24 July 2017

AL Open Democracy artcle Jul17

Article published in Open Democracy UK by Anna-Louise van der Merwe, 21 July 2017

Is it parenting or the financial situation of a family that can break the poverty trap? Parental confidence is the link between the two.

The current debate on austerity, which follows a catalogue of political upheavals and social earthquakes, raises some interesting questions on a central aspect of this debate: child poverty and the attainment gap between rich and poor children. Why does the attainment gap exist? Does it link directly to income or is it a parenting style that is often associated with families living in relative poverty, or is it in fact both?

In 2010, the Rt. Hon Frank Field MP published a report demonstrating that the experiences in the first five years of a child’s life, and the influence of the parents in that period, can define a child’s life chances. While all the evidence shows that children from poorer backgrounds tend to have worse outcomes, the key message was that what parents do is more important than what they earn. The report’s central message was that “Nothing can be achieved without working with parents, enabling [them] to achieve the aspirations that they have for their children.”

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