The question I am answering this week is complicated with all the feelings of love, guilt, and protection one mother felt for 2 children. It came from a dear friend of mine. Her younger daughter had come to me after she read my blog, she felt safe and told me her older brother was hurting her (molesting her). I went with this young innocent girl to tell her mother what was happening. When the sweet girl had relieved her heavy heart of the burden she had been carrying, her mother and I left to talk in the other room alone. The question she asked was. “Shawna, I love both of my children. I know that he was hurt when he was 5, he needs mental help, and I don’t want him to go to jail. What should I do?”
I told her she needed to call the authorities and report it. She was legally obligated to do so. If she did not file with the proper authorities, she could go to jail with him. It was up to a court of law, at this point, to decide what he needed. She no longer could make that call. His decisions had brought him to this point. If she did not make the right legal choice, she would most assuredly get pulled into the tangled mess of bad choices that he has spun and created for himself.
The analogy or story I came up for her came as I sat in my garden the next morning. While weeding, I contemplated how I could explain to the kind mother how important it is that we teach our children the difference between right and wrong. It is imperative that they know that there is a consequence to their choices, good or bad. If we continually try to save them from their own choices, we get ourselves and our families tangled in with them.
I looked over at the glistening spider webs in my garden that next morning. I like the spiders that live in my garden. They do their job and don’t bother me when I do mine. Instantly my mind went to the type of spider that would strike me if I got too close. The black widow. That spider will eat its own children along with her mate. If the children or male does not flee fast enough, they will eventually be attacked. The elegant widow spins a silk web that appears to be chaotic. But in fact, is built for a very specific purpose. The web itself actually produces a chemical called pheromones that entices others of her kind. And its built is ideal for capturing other living creatures. The victims of her web don’t even see it coming. One moment her web will sparkle in the sun. Then instantly disappear in the shadows of the wind.
This scenario reminded me of my friend. She saw glimpses of danger in her son. Instantly a small act of kindness, a smile, or good behavior would distract her from the real problem. The child she sensed was being hurt, her pain remained covered under a masked fearful smile and ignorance that kept life moving forward. The web of his lies getting bigger and bigger. Catching victims in its grasp all along the way while those that loved him, and he too claimed to love. Not stopping him, essentially camouflaging his bad behavior until he had completely ensnared over 16 victims and his mother into his web of lies that ultimately ended with him and her in jail. Leaving each victim in remorseful guilt. They had sent someone they love to jail. When in fact he sent himself there.
Thus, the very root of the problem. She did not teach her children that good and bad behavior have consequences. The victim should have known that her good choice, stopping a perpetrator, would bring her good consequences. But instead, she felt guilt mixed with relief which brought on more guilt. Jail time wasn’t anyone’s fault except for the person making the bad choices. He was the one that put himself there. Mom went to jail because she didn’t make the right choice to follow the law and allow her son to pay the consequences alone for his bad behavior. Regardless of the reason (past victim like he was) when someone makes a bad choice, they need to learn to make good ones. Sometimes the process is a painful one but an essential one in raising a child who will have the desire to make good choices. If we take away the learning process, the consequences, we are actually helping create a monster. And victims with a warped sense of reality. Leaving an entire family caught in a tangled web of lies all in the name of love.