WHEN PARENTS tell children fairy tales about life, they’re usually hoping to protect them. But, as children grow older and notice contradictions, too often parents insist that the family must go on pretending that they aren’t pretending.
By adolescence, children are confused, realizing that their parents can’t be trusted to tell the truth, and yet they are still too helpless and bewildered to try to take on a world that makes no sense.
In desperate attempts to protect ourselves from overwhelming vulnerability, we sometimes create myths of our own about who we are and how the world should work. The problem is that this kind of fantasizing doubles our misery. We add the avoidable disappointment of the eventual shattering of our illusions to the necessary pain of confronting the real world.
Reality may be painful, but shattered illusions can hurt even more.