Children thrust into the battles of separation and divorce often bear the brunt of the anger, bitterness and frustration of their parents. They feel the pain and uncertainty of their parents, and often become lost in disputes involving the courts and other strangers.
Words like "custody", "visitation", "child support" and "court" trigger fear and confusion in children as they try to define these words and concepts. The key to helping the children understand lies in simple stories.
Storytelling is one of the oldest arts in the world, the first conscious form of literary communication. In many cultures it still survives, and it is not an uncommon to see a group of people held by the simple narration of a story. There are signs of a growing interest in this ancient art, and we may yet live to see the renaissance of the storyteller and the troubadour. One of the surest signs of a belief in the educational and healing powers of the story is its introduction as a valuable tool available to parents, lawyers, social workers, mental health practitioners and educators. It is just at the time when the imagination is most keen, the mind being unhampered by accumulation of facts, that stories touch the listener and heals the hurt.
For children, storytelling is more important now than ever before. So many forms of entertainment for children provide the images for them, and children need activities which require their own imaginations to be active. Among storytelling's many benefits to children, the development of imagination is one of the most significant. Storytelling teaches children a great deal about the use of language, problem solving, and values. Not to be forgotten in all of this is the simple fact that storytelling is fun, and that children love stories first and foremost because it delights them.
Long before pen was set to paper, fairy tales, legends and stories existed as a means to heal and transfer knowledge from one generation to another.
The emphasis upon science and technology has devaluated the importance of imagination and fantasy and thereby hindered ability of children to explore options to address their needs for comfort and security. Stories can be used by parents, attorneys representing children, educators and mental health providers for any type of problem and for any age by adapting their content or the manner in which they are told. The use of such stories is, therefore, a powerful technique for treating children who have been abused and traumatized in the separation and divorce process. Because they appear to have the capacity to make a dramatic and positive difference in the functioning of many of the children who are exposed to them, use of stories may well become a standard technique of parents, attorneys representing children, educators and mental health providers, regardless of their orientation.
Children see kings, queens and knights in a shining armor. They talk to animals and wish on stars. The wonder and creativity of children is boundless. Stories empower, define and most importantly offer comfort. The parent who tells their children stories gives them special gifts the heal and teach. The attorney who tells stories to the children they represent to reassures them they are safe and that it is okay to express their fears and concerns. Mental health providers and social workers who use stories help children find options and answers. Teachers open a whole world of mystery and wonder to discover in through the magic of stories. As wonderful as storytelling for children is, it should be remembered that storytelling is not just for children. On the contrary, throughout most of its existence, storytelling has been primarily for adults.
For more story and storytelling resources visit the The Magic Glasses and the Storytelling Resource pages.
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