My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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Age doesn't necessarily matter to predators.

A few years ago, after the Catholic sex scandal broke,  I took the mandated diocesan Virtus training for anyone working with children and youth at the parish level. You can read about my experiences with Virtus here, and some articles here.

What I still remember about the program is the insidiousness patience that seems to be the hallmark of a successful perpetrator. Successful molesters will try to become part of the family by being around a lot,putting extra effort and attention into helping with the children, giving gifts and gaining trust. And then once the perpetrator has the trust of the child and the parents, the abuse starts.

Some of the things I learned in that course reminded me a lot of what happened in my family with the opposite end of the age spectrum - my aging parents.

As a little background, my parents reunited after many years of separation, to give their marriage a second chance. My mother moved to the other side of the country to be with my dad. At first she seemed happy and healthy. Reports from other family and friends who visited my parents thought everything seemed fine. And I was pleased with that. I was focused on my own growing family with 5 children under the age of 9 at the time.

Then my mom started talking about my cousin who was always there and always helpful. I felt a little uncomfortable about that, but thought maybe I was just feeling a tad jealous that my cousin could be there while I could not. And when my mom escalated the rhetoric to, "she's just like my third daughter," I really felt uncomfortable, but again I chalked it up to my own pettiness instead of taking a look at the situation more objectively.

Because the truth was that my cousin (affectionately known on this blog as EFC) was following the pattern I had learned in my Virtus training. She had come from the outside and made herself part of the family. My parents had grown  to love and to trust her. And essentially because they lived in such a rural area, she quite literally had then secluded, all to herself. 

And while I can't prove abuse or neglect, (although I have good reason to suspect there was both) there was theft. And now more then four years after my father's passing, we are still trying to straighten it all out.

While Mr. Pete was gone last week trying to unravel some of this, I happened to pick up this book, Remembering Margo: A Triumphant Life, a Tragic Death, And Life's Greatest Deception. This is the true story of domestic abuse and the murder of Dr. Margo Prade as told by one of her best friends.  During the course of the story, another person comes into the family, becomes fast friends with the doctor  and then starts to take advantage of the situation.  Dr. Prade was only in her early 40s at the time of her murder.

In a way, when this happens to adults it can be even more insidious than when it happens to kids, because kids don't have the experience to know what is happening to them. But adults, like my parents and apparently like Dr. Prade, have the free will to choose to let these people into their lives, which makes it more difficult for adult children and true friends to be able to put a stop to it.

As a Catholic, when it was happening to my parents, I was always confronting my own guilt for not being able to help my parents myself, and then being afraid that I was feeling jealous because someone else had stepped into my role. And I know that our perpetrator used that as control over me to keep me at arms length out of the situation.

I wish at the time, I had been able to look objectively at the situation, because if I had, I would have realized that my feelings of discomfort weren't guilt or jealousy, they were common sense. And while it might be too late in my family, I hope that by blogging about it, maybe someone else can avoid the same problem.

If I were going to give tips I would say:
1.  Be wary of outsiders  or people on the fringe of the family unit who suddenly seem to become enmeshed wtih the family.
2.  Be on guard when outsiders suddenly become privy to family business, medical issues and money matters.
3.  If older parents start referring to an outsider as "like a son or like a daughter" that could be a potential problem.
4.  Make sure that assets, trusts, certificates of deposite etc are ni a safe place, like a safety depisit box.

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