Tuesday, June 18 2024

Today, children have access to the same means of communication as adults.
Moreover, the technological evolution has made it easier for youth and
children to manage media than it is for adults, thereby bypassing the
“parental filter”. It is now the children who introduce and guide parents
through the virtual world. It seems as if roles have been reversed.

Communication understood as synonymous to education has seen its
development in time always with a mediating figure, a moderator, in flesh
and bones.

When cultures were passed on simply through oral tradition, or later
through writing, a human, adult figure was always necessary for access to
content. He/she was the guide in the search for the truths of life.

In the simplicity of a story, or better yet, of a fairy tale, it was indeed
possible to convey wisdom to children and help them grow, to orient them in
this world, in a very simple way. There are so many fables that restore, at
least partially in some aspect, the true, authentic image of a father. (One
needs only to recall the fable The Frog Prince, where the father
leads the child to keep promises; or Tom Thumb, where the father
leaves his son free to discover the world, but is immediately ready to
welcome him back upon his return; or The Sparrow and His Four Children, where the father gives advice
that enables the little ones to face the world.)

But perhaps one of these fairy tales really can rise to the icon and guide
incarnating all of the dimensions of fatherhood. Giuseppe, the woodcarver
and father of Pinocchio, is the main character of the most well-known,
translated children’s adventure book The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Symbolically, the story of Pinocchio is one of a child who learns to grow,
with the weaknesses and defects of his age, but also with his desire to
learn to grow up. The story, with all of its pedagogical value that has
been recognized throughout the ages and across cultures, is the adventurous
journey of a puppet that continuously puts himself in situations where each
outcome is the result of his own choice; a choice that is always made
between that which is good- indicated and suggested by the appropriate
characters in the story (The Talking Cricket, The Blue Fairy…) and
that which is bad, indicated by the evil characters ( The Fox and The Cat, Romeo…).

In the development of the story, Giuseppe has a prominent father-figure
role. It is through him that the piece of wood becomes “alive”. The puppet
is always tending toward his father until finally in the last scene, there
is the real transition from inanimate to animate being- the object of all
of the main character’s actions. As a matter of fact, already at the
beginning of the story, the puppet wants to change his state. This is why
between Mastro Cherry, who wants to make him into a table leg (leaving him
inanimate) and Giuseppe, that instead wants to make him into a puppet that
knows how to dance and go on walks with him in the world (bringing him to
become animated), the puppet chooses the latter. Giuseppe therefore takes
him as a son. His character is then immediately associated with one who
engenders life, a father, and therefore, an educator. As such, the “father”
Giuseppe sustains the puppet in his journey and comes to his aid each time
he strays away from him only to return again, asking for help. This is the
case when Giuseppe remakes his feet that the distracted puppet burned, or
when he feeds the famished Pinocchio in jail with his only three pears. The
father sacrifices himself even in order to give his own son the means
necessary for his journey; he makes clothes to dress him, and sells his own
clothes to buy him the alphabet. Giuseppe still warns the puppet about the
future and gives him advice, while at the same time leaving him free to
choose. Both are aware that for any choice he makes, Giuseppe will always
be there to support him. This is how Pinocchio faces his journey in life:
choosing, messing up, and starting over; building himself up until he makes
no progress and then returns to his father everything that he has given
him. It is in fact his father that saves him from the belly of the whale.
He is the one who builds the cart to take the old, weary puppet back. It is
he who works to sustain the both of them. This is how the final act ends
with the fairy’s intercession- an expression of the wisdom that grows with
experience, which allows the puppet to become a real boy and live in the
same dimension as the father. What is more explicit than a story of growth
and teaching for society than The Adventures of Pinocchio, where
the father assumes that appropriate position, which seems to be lost and in
need of recuperation today? Will there still be a fable to teach us the
road to take in order to renew ourselves and the society in which we live?

Parents, therefore, must enter into the virtual world of children,
participate in their world, and travel together with their children in the
discovery of the new realities that make up the everyday life of each
child. Children indeed need to regain role models, and fathers ought to
reclaim their role as such. They must become guides for their children,
teaching them to discern true values by being mediators between the rules
to respect and the freedom to be won and managed in accordance with their
age.

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