Unequal Parenthoods: How Poverty Shapes the Experience of Parenthood

Ann Meier , University of Minnesota
Kelly Musick, Cornell University
Sarah Flood, University of Minnesota

Parenthood can expands one’s world by creating new social networks, engaging in new institutions, and deepening investment in existing ties. However, new evidence suggests ways in which low-income parents’ world is constricted because they are parents. Housing options for parents in poverty because landlords worry about the extra hassle brought by children. Low income parents spend more time indoors to avoid dangerous individuals and neighborhoods. They spend more time dealing with bureaucracies, and they may even retract from demanding relationships with extended family. While middle-class parents enter new social circles and tote their children to and from opportunity expanding activities, parenting in poverty is increasingly characterized by: 1) confined solitude as parents try to protect their kids from danger and the demands of wayward extended kin; 2) submission to the demands of a range of powerful societal institutions like the state, schools, and landlords consume their time.

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 Presented in Session 70. Parenting