Both of my parents grew up with absolutely nothing.
My mother shared a bed with her sisters and wore nothing but hand-me-downs until she got married.
My father never had 3 meals in the same day until he joined the army.
They both tried to explain what life was like to us many times, but every story ended with, "Never mind. You just wouldn't understand."
They were so determined to escape their situations, almost every decision they made as adults was shaped by growing up with nothing. They worked hard almost every day of their lives so that none of us would ever have to experience what they went through. There was never any discussion or debate about what life would be like in our house: we were all going to finish high school, go to college, and build lives of our own. None of us has ever missed a meal or gone without anything essential.
I realize many people are just as determined as my parents were, but still don't escape poverty. There are no guarantees.
I just don't know how anyone can reverse the cycle without imagining that they can. Having no money is bad. Having no hope is worse.
Thankfully that was long ago, but those memories give me the determination, and humility,that i need to advance myself each day.
My dad didn't graduate highschool, he dropped out at 15 to start work and move out of his home (because they had more problems than a lack of money), literally at the first chance he got. He worked around to become a mechanic and eventually opened his own shop. He got into fuel injector programming, which got him a job at Ford, which when me and my brother were little meant we had 3 meals a day (literally sometimes 4), got almost everything we wanted but already had everything we needed. We had family vacations to places even my friends didn't get to go to.
I think what he taught me most was to not give up and just keep trying. He said he had over a dozen jobs in a half-dozen years while paying his way to get qualified as a mechanic. He's had 3 companies, all successful in their time before he moved on to bigger and better to get solidly middle-class from not even a working class upbringing.
My family migrated to Canada when I was 3 years old, my mom came with 60 cents in her pocket, my dad just a little more than that. One thing my Mom has that my Dad could not find was faith, and a hell of a lot. She always had faith that she could escape poverty, fast forward to the present, she now has a wonderful government job and she is well on her way to starting her own business. I can't say the same about my dad, he is still buying those $800 cars, living in shitty apartments and has been working at the same barber shop since we first came here. My parents split up about 7 - 8 years ago and to be honest, I was happy. My dad was bringing us down with his mentality, my mom has always sheltered me from it, so even though I was growing up in poverty, I never felt poor.