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Why being desperately poor was the best thing for my childhood

As parents we want to give our children the very best we can. But what if you are poor? Extra Money can sometimes leave a childhood wanting. Often poverty bestows unexpected gifts.
Shannon Kelly Badger, FamilyShare Modified: August 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm •  Published: August 20, 2014

I don't need to look at a socio-economic graph or statistics about the 1970's poverty rate to know that my family was poor. There were a lot of us: 5 kids and 2 parents living in tight quarters. In fact, quarters that used to house horses. (Our home was a converted horse stable.) My Dad was the primary wage earner, and he worked long, hard hours at a dangerous job that was prone to lay-offs when business got slow. As kids, we were no strangers to free lunch tickets, "Government Cheese" and the occasional food stamps when times were really tough.

It's evident what the unpleasant side effects are about being poor. It's no fun dwelling on the negatives: worried, stressed-out parents, penny-pinching, late fines and over due notices. What's not as clear, are the positives associated with growing up broke. Here are some things I've come to recognize as pros to my underprivileged upbringing.

1. We learned to share

We shared bedrooms, beds, belongings and bike. (Singular bike). We had one bike between all of us kids for the longest time. That was the norm, and that was OK. We learned to take turns and enjoy watching each others turns. It didn't always have to be about "me". A lot of our bike time was devoted to watching our older brother put on "Evil Knievel" shows. We loved those death-defying exhibitions. It was entertainment at its best.

2. We used our imaginations

We didn't own much, so we imagined everything. We didn't have a traditional swing set, so we conjured up our own in the back of our property amidst a small grove of snarled, tangled trees. We had monkey bars, a see-saw and hanging vines to swing from. We were wild things straight out of the "Jungle Book".

3. We weren't materialistic

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