Being a good parent has been a popular topic in countless publications and, more recently, on blogs and in e-zines. In contrast to the title cover’s spooky image, Rabies Mom (Rabies Mom LLC, 2008) by Pat Carroll and Jack McGowan begins like a man’s pile of complaints against his wife, unloading suddenly on your attention. But as you read on, the story of his suffering shows the set of important messages in the book.
Pat Carroll tells about his family life, with a wife and six kids, which started falling apart when his wife decided to divorce him in order to seek “happiness”. Pat’s immediate concern was the well-being of his kids who were given into his wife’s custody by the court while he was made to leave the house and pay for the children’s expenses. Then, in October 2006, Pat’s worst nightmare came to plague his life when he received a call informing him that his 10-year-old daughter Shannon was in hospital because of some serious illness. The latter very shockingly turned out to be rabies – Shannon had been bitten by a bat while living with her mom. But was it only the wild bird that caused the threat to Pat’s child?
While Shannon struggled in the hospital’s intensive care for her life, Pat tried to discover what actually happened to Shannon while she was at her mom’s and how the mother’s criminal neglect could be proved before the judicial system in order to save the lives of the younger kids that were still in her custody. The important message in the book, therefore, draws the reader’s attention to the role of a passively (?) abusive parent not only in breaking the family apart but pushing a child of one’s own into the jaws of mortality.
Pat’s story also criticizes the US judicial system that is so blindly prejudiced in favor of women as to assume without reason (and persist in doing so) that mothers can take better care of their children. Carroll’s story is powerful, poignant, and, above all, important for all parents to read carefully. In his author’s note at the end of the book, Carroll tells that this book’s purpose, beside telling Shannon’s story, is to “open people’s eyes to the injustices in the US legal system”, especially in matters of custody of children by their fathers.
Rabies Mom is an important book and every parent and would-be parent must give it a reading, particularly those who suspect or have observed signs of psychological disturbance in their spouse/partner.