I Am So Ashamed – This Is How Children From Poor Families Feel

Some children come from families that do not have much money. The father is seriously ill, the mother has so far provided for her family of 5 at home. When suddenly less money comes into the household budget than is taken out week after week, the children also feel this.

Sometimes it starts slowly. Slowly but surely, the family runs out of money. Maybe it even goes into debt with the bank or friends. Getting out of a crisis is not an easy thing to do. Some never make it out of their poverty.

The Consequences Of Poverty

Poor children usually do not suffer because they do not have enough to eat. In Central European countries, there is usually just enough money for that. Nevertheless, even here poor children do not fare as well as richer ones.

They are ashamed if they do not have proper clothes to go to school. They have to wear old or even torn T-shirts and washed-out pants. This also keeps them warm, but it shames them immensely. It’s hard to hide the fact that you don’t have much. Teasing by schoolmates and neighborhood children is usually not long in coming.

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After all, anyone who stands out is ostracized. Children can be very nasty in this respect. That’s why poor children in this country suffer above all psychologically from the consequences of their situation.

What Does Shame Mean?

When you feel ashamed, you don’t feel good at all. You have the feeling of being despised. It’s as if everyone is pointing the finger at you. Somehow you seem to be different from the rest. No matter how hard you try, no one wants to have anything to do with you. This powerlessness can make you very sad in the long run.

Poor kids feel ashamed because they don’t have as much as others. They know that they are somehow different. But every child wants to belong. No one wants to be an outcast.

Shamed children run away, cry, tell tall tales (to protect themselves), or become completely quiet. Some withdraw into themselves, others become aggressive. They don’t want anyone to find out about their secret. No one should know that they are different.

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After summer vacation, they are sad because they couldn’t go on vacation with their parents. Then, when all the other children talk about their experiences in different countries, they have nothing to say. They would like to participate in such conversations. They would love to have such great, exciting memories, too.

When they feel ashamed, they would much rather be someone else. They wonder why something like this has to happen to them of all people. Perhaps they even blame their parents out of sheer frustration. And they do this even though they know that it’s not their fault either.

Of course, some parents can do something about the fact that they don’t have any money. But that is by far not always the case! Therefore one may not condemn poor families from the outset. Not every unemployed adult is lazy. Some do not get a job because of their illness, education, history, or economic situation.

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Many kids are ashamed of their parents. They are afraid to talk about what their parents’ jobs are in front of others. While others rave about their parents’ great jobs, these kids feel embarrassed.

If their classmates find out that they are poor, it sometimes gets even worse. Then it rains scolding, prejudice, and reproach. Maybe they even have to endure being scolded by their parents in front of them. Then the family may become a target for rumors and tall tales.

Again and again, they then learn things that are told about them. Most of them are not true at all. Someone has made them up and passed them on. It feels very uncomfortable to hear something like that. You feel even more ashamed than before.

Worksheet For The Text

1) Remember the text. How do children who come from poor families feel?

2) Internet research: get on the school PC. Use a search engine for children. Search on the topic of “poor countries” or “poorest country in the world”. Find out the following:

  • Which country is the poorest in the world?
  • Where in Europe are people very poor?
  • How many people in your country have to live on very little money?
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Photo: soupstock / bigstockphoto.com

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