The importance of fairy tales in the life of a child
Wisdom from The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim
I spent many delightful hours reading fairy tales. Even today, many stories that I have devoured clearly ring in my head, even though I have not read them for perhaps forty years. Stories of dancing princesses in a world of underground music and bullets, the discovery of a magic ring baked in a cake, the agony of a sister who is trying to free her brothers from home. a spell that turned them into swans – these elements of fairy tales plunged deep into my heart and my imagination and continues with me today. Why is it?
Reflecting on this question, I had the chance to meet a woman who had been running a Christian bookstore for years. She spoke to me about the many parents who would come to the store looking for reading material suitable for their children. When they were offered fairy tales, they feared, fearing the dark and disturbing images that could scare and traumatize their young people. Their argument would go like this: "Fairy tales scare and present the world with dishonesty, they would make my child confused as to what is real and manufactured, they are full of ogres and witches and giants, so why the child to be terrified by things that are not even real? "
Because I write Christian fairy tales, I decided to explore these issues and to address these valid concerns of many parents. I thought back to a book that I read when my first daughter was born: Bruno Bettelheim's famous book, The Uses of Enchantment. I remember the impact this book had on me and, because of its logic, chose to immerse my children in the world of fantasy and fairy tales throughout their childhood. Now that they have grown up, I asked them how these stories shaped and influenced their worldview and their creativity. They have no doubt that their experience has been seriously enriched by this experience. Reading fairy tales has contributed to their healthy and confident attitude to the challenges and terrors of this life.
Bruno Bettelheim on autism. The above-mentioned book, written in 1976, earned him a national book prize. I like what he wrote in the introduction. "Wisdom does not spring fully developed like Athena out of Zeus's head, it builds up little by little, from most irrational beginnings.It is only at adulthood that an intelligent understanding of Unfortunately, too many parents want their children's minds to function as if they were themselves aware of ourselves and the world, and our ideas about the meaning of life were not to develop as slowly as our body.Today, as in the past, the most important and difficult task of raising a child will help to make sense of his life. "
Working in the field of autism posed the challenge of restoring meaning to the lives of seriously disturbed children. He found that most publications for young readers were sorely lacking in ability to accomplish this task, but he also knew that literature was the best promise to pass on cultural heritage, which in his view was crucial. And that was what he thought was necessary: "To enrich [the child’s] life, one must stimulate one's imagination, help it develop one's intellect and clarify one's emotions; listen to his anxieties and his aspirations, at the same time relate to all aspects of his personality – and that without ever denigrating, but, on the contrary, give all his credibility to the gravity of the problems of the child, while promoting self-confidence and its future. "He goes on to say how important it is for literature to provide a moral education that, subtly and implicitly," conveys to it the benefits of moral behavior. " His conclusion? "The child finds this kind of meaning in fairy tales."
The German poet Schiller wrote: "The deep meaning lies in the fairy tales that have been told in my childhood rather than in life." How can this be? Bettelheim says, "These stories start where the child is really in his psychological and emotional being. They speak of their severe internal pressures so that the child understands unconsciously and offers examples of temporary and permanent solutions to urgent difficulties. "
Parents, wanting to protect their children from the evil, scary things in the world, remember well that's the world we're preparing them for." Hide this world from their conscience, trying to postpone or to color the harsh realities of life, we do them a very bad service.We have the Bible as the prime example of frankness and revelation and the candid exposure of evil in all its forms. Has not censored the murder, rape, betrayal, cruelty, incest and even sexual passion of the pages of his word.Parents can argue that a young child does not have the right to do so. There is no need to learn these things, and it is true that there is a time and a season for all things, and some prefer to cover a more mature child to understand and manage his emotions – some of these things
Here is what Bettelheim says: "In the child or the adult, the inc. onscient is a powerful determinant of behavior. When the unconscious is repressed and its content is denied to consciousness, then the conscious mind of the person will eventually be overwhelmed by the derivatives of these unconscious elements, or else he is obliged to keep such a rigid control and compulsive about him as his personality can become severely handicapped … The prevailing parental belief is that a child must be diverted from what troubles him the most: his formless, nameless anxieties, and his chaotic, angry fantasies and even violent. Many parents believe that only conscious reality or pleasing and satisfying images should be presented to the chi-dd that it should be exposed only to the sunny side of things. But such a unilateral tariff only feeds the mind unilaterally and real life is not always sunny. "
Rather than protecting children from the ills of life, we can equip them with the tools they need to cope with them.Bettelheim says that a struggle against the serious difficulties of life is inevitable, that it is an integral part of life. If one does not become discouraged, "but resolutely faces unexpected and unexpected difficulties, one masters all obstacles and finally emerges victorious."
Elements of fairy tales
According to Bettelheim, the fairy tale resolutely confronts the child with the most frightening subjects of life: death, aging, loss of parent, trapping or loss, and The fairy tale simplifies all situations, allowing the child to to tackle the problem in its most essential form: the figures are clearly drawn and the details, unless very important, are eliminated. . Evil is as common as any virtue and both are usually embodied in the form of a figure or their actions. The evil is not without attractions, "symbolized by the mighty dragon or giant, the power of the witch, the cunning queen of" Snow White ". "In many fairy tales, the usurper succeeds for a time, as with Cinderella's sisters and mother-in-law, but in the end, the perpetrator is punished and the moral is that crime does not pay. Child follows the hero throughout his journey, he can identify with the hero in all his struggles-struggles and triumph with him.Bettelheim says that the child "makes such identifications by him- and the inner and outer struggles of the hero impress him with morality. "
The most important element of fairy tales is for me the moral choice presented to the hero. The child learns that the choices have consequences and that the child can choose what type of person she wants to be.That is only "out of the world" that the hero learns and acquires happiness.The fairy tale is turned towards the future and guide the child, so that instead of escaping into a world of unreality, He gives tools to help him develop his character and courage in the face of what the world presents to him. Often the hero is lost, alone, scared. These are feelings that a child identifies with. Yet his hero is guided and helped because of his determination and courage. In this way, fairy tales have their own kind of magic, because by reading them, the child feels understood and enriched, giving the child what Bettelheim says about him.
"Unlike any form of literature, fairy tales direct the child toward the discovery of his identity and calling, and also suggest what experiences are needed to further develop his character." Fairy tales show that a beautiful rewarding life is within our reach despite adversity, but only if we do not fear the dangerous struggles without which we can never achieve a true identity. "It is also a fundamental principle of the Bible: those who want to please God and obtain his favor must endure the difficulties, that these trials produce endurance, character and hope, and that hope does not disappoint (Romans 5: 3-5), fairy tales as a bad influence on your children, be rather selective and choose stories appropriate to their age, but do not be afraid to give free rein to their imagination and their fa to face their darkest fears. You allow these fears to surface in a subtle way and to allow your child to find his courage and make moral choices by proxy – choices that will strengthen his character and influence the rest of his life.
I look at my daughters, now grown up, and see how this world of fantasy and fantasy helped them cope with evil and struggles, gave them confidence and courage, and stimulated their imagination that s & # 39; 39 is widespread in their art, writing, poetry and music. We can not hide our children from the evils of the world, and even explain everything in a simple way the Word of God does not dispel the deep fears and worries of a child. Only by bringing them to the surface in a safe and imaginative way can we, as parents, help them mature and become responsible adults. I think of that word, responsible, able to answer, because that is our goal: to help our children to be able to respond competently to any situation that life presents to them, and fairy tales will help them to achieve it.