Many homeless folks face criticisms from people who think their perspectives apply to the reality homeless people actually live in. I find this to be true every time I get an email or comment from someone who accuses me of being selfish for not going to a shelter system I can't even get into and believe me, I have tried. See the video attached to this blog for a small example of what I've been dealing with for several years now. I've heard everything from suggestions to dump my kids off at foster care to turning custody over to other family members. Interestingly enough, these comments tend to come from people who THINK they know my situation and others like mine. First of all, if relatives WANTED to take custody of my kids when they knew I was going to be homeless, I imagine they would've have done so by now. Secondly, many of my relatives can barely afford a roof over their heads so taking on more mouths to feed is out of the question.
I find criticisms to be interesting insights into other people's ignorance about homeless parenting. That being said, I can understand why some people think the way they do. For instance, there are parents out there who shouldn't be. With the homeless youth I've run into in the city of Kent, I have seen firsthand examples of bad parenting or the sheer lack of it. If people took the time to talk with these homeless kids, they'd see that they are much more than stereotypes and they are very much living reasons as to why I can't just send my kids to doster care as if that was going to solve the real problem behind our homelessness... we can't get out of it! Even if I were to dump my kids into the foster care system, will that alone put a roof over my head? I talked to my kids about going to foster care and they refused to. My teen made it clear she would always feel like I gave up on keeping us together as a family. My previous blog was about the shelter system and my experiences in dealing with them so as far as I'm concerned, if a reader still doesn't get it after that blog, they never will.
There will always be those who presume the worst about what they don't know, but that's their problem. For you homeless parents out there doing the best you can to survive, ignore negative people because the only thing they'll do is invalidate you as a human being. We already know Section 8 is closed to apply for. We already know shelters are closing due to lack of funding. We already know "emergency funds" have been slashed. We already know that many of us don't get support from family members. We know that jobs are hard to come by and if we do get that job, who can afford childcare if you don't qualify for childcare assistance? What happens when your expenses to go to work cost more than what the job pays?
Before you jump to conclusions on what you don't know, get the facts first then ask yourself if it's worth criticizing.
Follow Carey Fuller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/careyfuller