Life chances are given at the time you take your first breath. Depending upon which life chances those are can help determine what the future holds. Life chances are opportunities and those that are given range from education, environment, adequate and supportive families, employment, health care, and religion. Life chances can bring positive outcomes as well as negative ones. Throughout my childhood, I received positive outcomes that came mostly from a family-oriented background and with the influence of religion, my family was able to turn to a religious belief to get us through the difficult times. In comparison to those positives, I did have my fair share of negative outcomes. My mother lacked a higher education and in result struggled to obtain any higher employment opportunities. Living close to the poverty line forced us to live in bad neighborhoods and experience a tremendous amount of hardship that hindered out way to succession. We did, however, have a balance between the two that resulted from strong mentoring not only from my family but from others around, like my teachers and counselors. My mother made sure that our health was always above the normal standard mark and did everything in her power to keep us protected from the negative aspects of life. Not all children are blessed to have the same life chances because not all adults get the same benefits as others. With a wealthier lifestyle comes better experiences and higher chances in life. Parents must push in life to make sure their children are capable of surviving life without them once they transition into adulthood. Chances at life are based on a variety of different aspects that one will experience throughout their childhood. Those different aspects will come with positive outcomes and negative ones, solely based on the chances provided. Without good life chances one can expect to live their lives in low-income neighborhoods with a lesser chance of graduating to pursue a college degree. Without a high school diploma, you are denied access to college. If you have a diploma but without the source of income or denied on scholarship programs, the chances of going to college are slim. In the absence of a college degree it is difficult to find careers that are willing to pay more income so that you get a better chance at life. One must understand that the hardest things to accomplish in life will get you the best life chances you need.
Wealth and Education
Wealth and education are of the most positive outcomes of life chances one can be given. A wealthy family is a more promising family when it comes to a need or want basis. Growing up in a wealthy family is like having all your dreams come true. Throughout my own life, I had my fair share of times in and out of wealthy lifestyles. However, it was not consistent, and I had to live in what I would consider the worst times of my life. In my younger years of life my mother’s bad decisions reflected the low chances that my sisters and I received. We never experienced the want for something because we had mostly everything a child would need. Regarding education, as a child I did not receive the best education because we moved around and switched schools quite often. This caused a lower chance for advancement and unfortunately, I did not get the access to additional tutoring to help me advance. When this happens, you tend to lose the ability to learn at the same pace as your fellow peers. Education itself can help further a person’s success; it is just a matter of what chances you get throughout your childhood that helps that progression. For adolescents, they look towards a higher educational attainment and higher status occupations when they come from more advantaged families. (Johnson et al., 2017). Coming from a wealthy family a child does not have to grow up with worrying about their food, shelter, or education. They are well taken care of and standards are at a different level for them to survive. Their education is provided and if they are struggling with a subject, they have the financial stability to help their children with advancement. As for shelter, not till a certain age do children understand what bills are and how they must be paid in order to keep a roof over their heads. But for myself, I did not always have a home to go to. We went through some rough patches with some of my mother’s decisions and as a result we experienced homelessness for a few months. As a child I never knew exactly what was going on until I got older and started to realize that my experiences as a child was not of my own fault but of the life chances that were being provided. I learned to adapt to my environments since they changed frequently. Young adolescents who report at lower expectations for their lives come from a lower socioeconomic background which results in living in poorer neighborhoods. Education is a key factor to have success in life and without it, one may run into disadvantages and obstacles that have negative outcomes.
Neighborhoods and Poverty
The neighborhood a child lives in can contribute to the influences that they have amongst them. For children growing up in communities that are affiliated with gangs or drugs they tend to pick up on the negative behavior. Low income neighborhoods are not provided with the same resources that one would have access to if in a wealthy neighborhood. In my younger years of life, my life chances were not the best when it came to the neighborhoods that I had to live in. I had to tell myself that one day things would be different and that my life would get better. Kilewer (2013) found that parents living in under-resourced neighborhoods are faced with significant challenges including poor housing quality, victimized by violence in the community, physical and mental health problems, and low levels of education resulting in low job opportunities. With these challenges that the parents face it does become difficult for them to provide their children with these higher life chances. They still try to keep their children safe with their environments even if their community is not. Often when children are seen growing up in bad neighborhoods or bad environments, they have people among the community concerned about the well-being of the children which leads the state to get involved and a majority of these children get taken away. For some parents this is a wakeup call that pushes them to do better for their children so that they do not lose them. When kids get taken from their parents only one of two things can come from it. One being that they are given a better chance at life that allows them to get a better education and nourishment. Second being that they make the same mistakes as their parents with resulting in negative outcomes. As I got a little older my mother had started to figure out a few things to life and started making better decisions. With better decisions came better opportunities. Those opportunities led us to a nicer neighborhood where we attended a school with better resources and better educational options. We no longer were considered living at the poverty level, we had changed our course in life and with that we were given a different set of life chances that were changing to positive outcomes rather than negative. Early exposure to poverty in children results in a more negative impact with their development. Living in poverty puts your children at risk of behavior problems, a drop in academic performance, and self-regulatory skills. (Roy et al., 2014) These potential downfalls is exactly what hinders a child’s life chance to excel.
Family and Mentors
Dysfunctional homes with families that do not communicate thoroughly with each other are at risk of lesser life chances. A family needs a strong communication with a support system. A child learns from their parents and want to be accepted for who they are. Supportive parents create opportunities for their children to succeed and push them to make it further in life which is a life chance not all children receive. For my own life, my mother was supportive of my decisions but never pushed me to do anything. I had to make the better decisions on my own in order to succeed. Growing up with parents that are dysfunctional or non-supportive tends to create a distance between them. This often results in a negative outcome. Castro (2018) found that parents non-supportive emotion socialization behavior like punishing or minimizing reactions tend to serve a discouragement to their children’s display of negative emotions. Thus, causing the reactions to increase the child’s anxiety or arousal. Discouragement from a parent could also influence a child’s socioemotional competence. It is detrimental for a child’s success to have not only a support system but to also have a strong set of mentors in their lives. Not having a mentor is an invisible life chance because one might not grow up in a household with positive role models but more of a degrading one that puts them down rather than lifting them up. One thing I had growing up was the best mentors which were my mostly my teachers and counselors. They were a group of strong supporters that advocated for a better life and advanced future. Mentors play a critical role in the lives of adolescents and young adults, helping them navigate their identities and opening doors to educational and career opportunities. (Raposa et al., 2018) Also mentioned is regarding nonparental adults which are typically what older adolescents are influenced by the most. Mentors are a support system that helps education advancement which is positive life chance to make it further after entering adulthood. With education one can graduate with a degree and start their careers soon afterwards. Mentoring is one of the most positive outcomes of life chances one can get and it becomes a negative invisible life chance if you do not have one.
Not all children get the same chances it just depends on what lifestyle you are born into. For religious families, it can be a social factor or personal depending upon what your upbringing is. According to Lee et al., (2018) sociological studies of religion make evident that forming religious identities and patterns of religiosity are a part of a fluid and dynamic process. In most households’ parents start teaching their children about religion at an early stage in life. For myself, religion was very important in my home because it helped influence moral values for a better understanding of life. In dysfunctional families where there is negligence, kids turn to religion for help. Often when parents are too harsh on their children regarding religion and their beliefs it tends to have a negative effect. According to Lee et al., (2018) studies shown that adolescents who are religiously involved and transitioning into adulthood, religious activity is likely to decrease. Most times you see religious parents that are too hard on their children with their beliefs which can make a child go into a rebellious stage and make decisions that are against religion. Having religion in your life can create self-control and can be beneficial for a child’s development. As a child gets older it is very important for them to be able to know the difference between right from wrong. Self-control will help them to say no to the negative aspects in life which this will increase the life chances for development. Those without the concept of self-control tend to spiral downhill making negative decisions resulting in negative outcomes. Not all parents push religion onto their children but instead let their child gain the knowledge on religion through church or other forms. Religion is an influential aspect of life that puts forth rules and regulations that help to shape a child’s future to a more positive outcome.
Health care is not always easy to access and for families that suffer with income may experience hardships without the care that they need. The ability to have health care is one of the positive life chances a child could get. For example, families that live in poverty have a lesser chance to a health care system so therefore are more at risk of outcomes of poor health. According to Zuberi (2017) low income neighborhoods can impede children’s health by exposing them to community violence, frayed social networks, and chaotic environments. Each one of these stressors can compromise a child’s wellbeing. This type of life chance is an obvious one due to living in an unsafe environment. Life chances are not easy to come by especially when you are not given the same opportunity as others in life. Thankfully, I have always had Medicaid health insurance that covered any of the health care coverage I needed so I had the better chance to survive my childhood. Given it came from a negative aspect, my father’s murder, we did not have to pay for any health care out of pocket. Elaborating more on the health care issue is that most often you see people go without the coverage and wonder why they would not want it; in all reality it is concerning on how difficult it is to obtain it. Without a health care system put in place, parents must not only worry about themselves but their kid’s coverage as well. Zuberi (2017) mentioned that in distressed neighborhoods there is higher risk of safety concerns when their children go outside. So as a result, the parents often keep their children indoors for their own safety. This however limits their physical activity and can increase exposure to additional risks inside like overcrowding, mold, and dampness. These are the health risks that parents may be unaware of and if they are living in low-income neighborhoods with no access to health care, they are more at risk then those who are living in nice neighborhoods. Health cases concerning those that are diagnosed with illnesses that are unrecognizable would be an example of an invisible life chance. For example, my aunt was diagnosed with HIV at age 38. She tried to locate the medications that was recommended to slow down the process of the disease, but without the funds or health care to cover the costs she had no luck. A few months later after getting the diagnosis, the entire left side of her body shut down. She was paralyzed and brain dead. She was put into a nursing home with very low chance of surviving. She died a few days later. Someone cannot expect this to happen in their lives but without the access to the right health care or the funds to cover the out of pocket expenses their chances of surviving the illness/disease tremendously decreases. In the world we live in today, it seems to be that the access to health care is more of a privilege rather than a right.
Different life chances provided are based on each unique chance to that individual based on their own life situations. That goes for personality, gender, culture, age, etc. just depending upon the upbringing and the environments a child grows up in. Chances at life in the early childhood is invisible to the children because their parents are the ones who must make the decisions. It is only when a child gets older that they start to understand what their life chances are. One must be understanding that not all parents can be of a wealthy class because it is not at all easy to get to that stage in life. Life chances are typically culture based on where you grow up and what your parents do for a living. Often you see where children who grow up in bad neighborhoods that tend to not be able to make it out. For teens in the bad neighborhoods where all they know is drugs and violence, they tend to fixate on a concept that because that kind of life is all they know it will be there future regardless of what life chances they are provided with. This hinders the ability for the child to make smarter decisions and to push themselves to their best ability. It is difficult to understand how it is possible that some children get more life chances then others. But to better understand that, is to think that the parents rely on their own life chances that they are provided with during childhood and not always do they have the opportunities that others may have. We must be able to see that they are only following the chances that they had when they were growing up. It is a cycle that continues through generations and only sometimes do those with the lower chances make it out and make a difference. I can say, I lived a full life before I made it to adulthood. I learned what to do and what not to do. I proved that just because my chances at a better life were slimmer than some, that it would not affect what I do in life. I make my own choices to succeed and the chances are now in my favor based on what I provide for myself. It is not easy growing up with the lesser chances of life, but it is possible to create your own life with those chances.