5 Damaging Myths About Moms On Welfare
Unfortunately, we live in a world that still very much devalues mothers, especially if they happen to be low-income mothers who depend on government assistance just to survive.
I had just a very small taste of what it was like to use governmental resources to make ends meet, using Medicaid as insurance when I got pregnant in college, as well as WIC to help feed myself. The humiliation and shame of using WIC got to be so much that I eventually stopped using it after a grocery store clerk made me cry, but I had the ability to know that I would soon be graduating with my nursing degree and able to support myself.
Not all mothers are able to do that. And for many mothers who use welfare, they are stuck in a seemingly impossible cycle. They need to be able to work to afford to feed their families, but they can not afford childcare in order to be able to go to work, or they may even be able to afford transportation to get to a job or a means to get the education they need to get a better, higher-paying job. It's a vicious cycle and many of us still believe some of the common myths about “welfare moms” that in the end, hurt everyone.
Here are a just a few of the myths about welfare moms that simply aren't true:
A World Bank report found that individuals on welfare aren't squandering cash assistance on things like alcohol or tobacco. Moms on welfare are not lazy and that's a myth that does not help anyone.
Here's a fun welfare fact for you: did you know that the government does not consider going to school as a way to fulfill the work requirement of receiving welfare? So in other words, instead of encouraging mothers to go to school to receive an education that could help them better their lives, the welfare system instead makes choosing a low-income, dead-end job more practical? Some states consider certain programs, such as vocation-focused training, to meet the qualification, but not all and again, those types of jobs may still be not enough to support a family as a single parent.
Yup. Kind of sobering when you think about it that way, isn't it?
They're just “not trying hard enough”
It's incredibly difficult for anyone who is on the other side of poverty to understand what it's like to grow up in a cycle of true poverty. If welfare is all you have ever known and poverty is a normal part of your life, it actually physically changes your brain. Long-term poverty changes the way individuals are able to make long-term planning and decisions, so it's not as simple as it appears from the outside in a place of relative comfort.
They're “milking the system”
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of mothers who use welfare only use it very short-term with the express purpose of getting some assistance for a small amount of time in order to get a better-paying job. Quite frankly, that's what the welfare program was designed to do and most people do not want to just live on welfare their entire lives. (Nor is it alway possible to do so.)
Welfare increases single motherhood
Welfare does not encourage women to get pregnant on purpose in order to get money. That's a ridiculous myth and study after study has disproven that myth. Welfare assistance does not increase single motherhood and on the flip side, reducing welfare does not change those rates either. At the end of the day, many mothers on welfare are just individuals in need of some temporary assistance in their lives and perpetuating myths will not help welfare be used in a way that we can all support, so it's time to end any misconceptions about welfare.
What other myths about welfare do you think simply aren't true?