Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Facts behind the Cinderella story by Judith Ancer

The following article appeared last week and discusses parenting, step-parenting with some references to Cinderella. From Facts behind the Cinderella story by Judith Ancer:

Once upon a time there was a girl without a mother. Her father soon married someone else but "the wedding festivities were no sooner over than the stepmother began to show herself in her true colours".

This could be a complaint from any number of children I've seen in therapy, but is in fact a quote from an online version of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella.

It is useful to look at the "wicked step-parent" cliché from a psychological perspective. It starts with something psychologists call "splitting".

It is normal and inevitable that children will have ambivalent feelings towards their parents. The wonderful parent who loves, indulges, nurtures and protects you is the same person who gets really mad at you, says no to some of your deepest desires, doesn't understand you and even hurts you sometimes.

It takes psychological maturity to accept that the parent we love and depend on for our very life is the very person we can also fear and resent. Infants and very small children naturally defend against this by "splitting" and experiencing their parents as all good or all bad.

Folk tales and fairy stories make this split concrete - enter the good fairy godmother and her opposite number, the wicked stepmother.

Children, already vulnerable and defensive after a bereavement or a divorce, are primed to anticipate the worst from step-parents.

The article is much longer so click through to read the rest if you are interested.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.