Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

Too Poor To Parent

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In this article by Burroughs she states accurately that most women with children worry about their ability as mothers. I’d say this is true for the majority of mothers who just want to care and provide for their children as best they can. However, according to the reading this preoccupation is particularly a concern for poor black mothers, whose possibility of having their children taken away by social services is significantly increased.

Burroughs states that black children are the most overrepresented group in foster care. This is explained via findings from various studies which have shown that “poverty is the leading cause of children landing in foster care.” And that “nationwide, blacks are four times more likely than other groups to live in poverty.” These findings demonstrate why black mothers in particular are at risk of losing their children due to the hardships caused by poverty.

Yet in the reading it says that when these children are removed from black mothers’ homes, “they rarely cite poverty as the factor putting a child at risk.” Instead it seems the black mothers themselves are blamed directly for neglect, inadequacy to provide and failure to be a mother to their own child. These women are oppressed and mistreated for something that is a fault of society and not their own. I don’t mean to say that all black mothers have been treated unfairly by the state, as I’m sure that some children are better off in foster homes. But for those mothers who cannot afford to keep their children due to the conditions and consequences of poverty, to me this seems unfair that they would be split so easily and the mother herself is held accountable for the poor living situation.

Poverty is sometimes unavoidable so we shouldn’t be punishing these mothers for being unable to provide, we should be HELPING them. Yes if the children are at risk then taking them away and putting them into foster care may be the best option at first. But it is important that the mother is not forgotten, that she is supported too so she can regain some stability and ultimately have her children returned to her, where they belong.

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Author: goffeh

I am from Birmingham, England. I am a junior here at ETSU currently studying for a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science. I also play for the ETSU women's soccer team.

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