When we talk about fairy tales, we assume they are written for children. Well, this is not necessarily true. Fairy tales were probably told mostly in a mixed company of adults and kids for hundreds of years and kids were certainly not the main audience.
Tellings of fairy tales and their relatives like fables, myths, and legends were an important part of entertainment in a society without television and clever way to transmission of information important to society.
Because society is not just a group of people but rather set of rules to follow if the group want to operate effectively, entertaining stories were perfect to connect the group in a harsh environment where too much of individuality was just a step away from sure death.
Such stories were never meant for children only until brothers Grimm in 19th wrote their famous collection and somebody told them the values presented in fairy tales could help children to grow into more responsible citizens.
So after their first version with footnotes and other scholarly information aiming at academicians, they made another, so-called 'small (Kleine Ausgabe)' edition aiming at children. There were seven 'large (Grosse Ausgabe)' and ten small editions published during their lifetime.
The mere idea of childhood was pretty new because until late medieval age nobody everybody generally looked at children as at small adults.
Nobody thought children’s mind operates differently, on a much more symbolic level, so fairy tales have the more powerful impact on them.
The main problem with the connection of fairy tales with children was some stuff seemed not appropriate for children. Original stories were full of sex and violence, so through next decades, they had to be censored and sanitized.
We can find a lot of amusing facts about history and psychology of fairy tales but this is material for future posts.