Poverty is an exam room familiar. From Bellevue Hospital in New York to the neighborhood health center in Boston where I used to work, poverty has filtered through many of my interactions with parents and their children.
I ask about sleeping arrangements. Mother, father, older child and new baby live in one bedroom that they’re renting in an apartment, worrying that if the baby cries too much, they’ll be asked to leave.
I encourage an overweight 9-year-old who loves karate, and his mother says, “We had to stop; too expensive.” I talk to a new mother who is going back to work too soon, leaving her baby with the cheapest sitter she can find.
Is your housing situation secure? Can you afford groceries? Do you go with the cheapest fast food? Can you get the prescription filled? Raising children in poverty means that everything is more complicated.