A simple definition of poverty is a lack of basic resources that leads to insecurity about the future. In her classic book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Dr. Ruby Payne lists 8 resources people in poverty lack. Resource #7 is a lack of relationships / role models.
RELATIONSHIPS / ROLE MODELS refers to having frequent access to adult(s) who are appropriate, who are nurturing to the person, and who do not engage in self-destructive behaviors. All individuals have role models, but when a person lacks positive role models and positive relationships it can lead to bad decisions and destructive behaviors. This is true of anyone in any class, but it can be especially influential in keeping a person in poverty or getting them out of poverty. Think about all the people in your life that served as role models and helped you become the person you have become. Then try and think how different your life would have been had it not been for those relationships.
Proper role models and relationships help define things like gender roles, work ethic, study habits, and appropriate actions and reactions. Basically, it is “from role models that the person leans how to live life emotionally.”
The real issue with this resource (or lack thereof) is the socialization process. The socialization process starts before you are even born and continues throughout your entire life. The first, and foremost, agent of socialization is the family, however that family is defined (single-parent, two-parent, abusive, blended, divorce, foster-care, orphanage, etc…). It is extremely difficult for people to not carry on the traits (positive or negative) of their family. It is not impossible to overcome, just difficult. Studies have consistently shown the children from abusive homes have a greater likely hood of becoming abusive themselves. The same would apply to addictions, work-ethics, education, attitudes, etc…One reason generalization poverty is so strong is because of the socialization process of growing up poor. Everyone has a tendency to be the most comfortable in familiar environments, even of those environments are negative.
To repeat: A person who lacks positive relationships and role models is in danger of remaining in poverty or falling into poverty.