From a young age many children develop imaginary friends, in fact it is believed that up to two thirds of children will at some point have at least one. These friendships are considered perfectly healthy and normal by professionals and parents alike, and the very mention of them is often met with statements like “ahh how cute” or “don’t worry it’s just her imaginary friend”.
But at what point do we stop writing these companions off as simply figments of a childs overactive imaginations, and start considering the possibility that many of our little people can actually see, hear and communicate with spirits, on a very day to day and natural level.
On the one hand as mother to 2 young girls under 3, I sit firmly on the bench with the “It’s healthy for them to use their imagination creatively” brigade.
On the other hand I am a paranormal investigator and it is programmed into my congnitive make up to question almost all possibilities when faced with the statement “Shhh mommy we have to be quiet, John doesn’t like noise”. My instinctive reaction is to wonder who John is. Until I am convinced otherwise, I assume that John is not a figment of her imagination, but a very real personality within our home. The fact that she also occasionally tells me where to sit because “Johns sitting there” just adds fuel to my curiosity.
Of course the notion that our children could be forming relationships with the deceased can easily be viewed as disturbing, especially given that most adults cannot themselves see spirits. If we could lift the veil between worlds so readily, as many believe our children can, then maybe we too would find ourselves forming ‘imaginary’ friendships. If you are a believer in the paranormal, and a believer in the eternal existence of the soul, then it is something to consider as a reality.
Of course this isn’t a discussion you will tend to find being had at the school gates, and most parents would never admit to each other that they have sometimes wondered if their child has seen a ghost, for fear of possible ridicule. It’s not a path the average polite conversation tends to take. But what might we learn from others experiences if we were to ask?
The following are statements from parents who agreed to share with me their childrens own experiences of imaginary friends.
“My daughter used to tell me about a man who came into her room every night and put the sign of the cross on her forehead. I thought it was just a dream or a person she had imagined. Then my mother-in-law sent over some family photos. My daughter looked right at the picture of my husband’s father (who has been dead for 16 years) and said ‘That’s the man who comes into my room at night!’ My husband later told me his father would always do the sign of the cross on his forehead at bedtime when he was young”
“When my son Oliver was about 4, he told me that his friend Thomas wanted to come in the car with him. I said that was fine not thinking anything of it. As we were driving Oliver suddenly screamed out “Mommy Thomas says stop the car!!”. Shocked I quickly pulled over as Oliver seemed distressed. Just a few seconds later, a lorry came charging right across the road and into a building on our side of the road. Had we continued driving, I have no doubt that it would have hit us. I believe Olivers friend Thomas saved us that day and was far from imaginary”
“Jody, my little girl used to play tea parties with her ‘friend’ Mary most days. I used to watch from the doorway as she pretended to pour tea into little cups and hand them over to the teddies and dolls. Then one day I heard her ask “Mary would you like some more tea?” and I swear I heard a little girl say “No”. It was so quiet and sudden that I wasn’t sure if I’d even heard it, but then my daughter said “ok then” and put the teapot down as if she’d heard it too! I got cold shivers and never eavesdropped again.”
So how would we explain these 3 events in a way that wouldn’t involve the children being in direct contact with a spirit? Well of course we could if we tried, but it can’t be denied that there is the possibility of something paranormal going on in all of these cases, and many more from all over the world.
Cases of children knowing words from other languages for example, or knowing historical facts when there would be no obvious way of them doing so. Could spirit children be reaching out to our children as a way of retaining the joy of childhood friendship post death? If so, do these spirit children even know they are no longer alive? It’s food for thought.
For those of you reading this who are now wondering if your own childs imaginary friend may be something more, the following steps can be taken in order to do a bit of investigative work yourself.
Eavesdrop – We all do it! As intrusive as this may seem as children get older, while they are young it can prove very important in helping you approach this subject. Observe and listen to your child when they play with their friend. Is the conversation one sided? i.e. do you only hear their voice as if there is another voice responding, or does your child speak both halves of the conversation? If the latter is the case then chances are your child is simply using their wonderfully creative imagination. If however, the first is true, you may want to dig a little deeper. (If at this stage if you hear a second voice responding to you child, then I think your question has been answered!)
Pay attention to your childs moods and behavior – We all know that childrens moods can be unpredictable. Sudden tantrums one minute followed by laughing the next are perfectly normal. However, if your child becomes very withdrawn, only wants to play with their ‘friend’ and even tells you that their friend is telling them to do bad things, this is a red flag. There have been cases where children have told parents that they don’t like their imaginary friend anymore. If your child comes to you saying this, explore why. Maybe they have scared them somehow. Although everything surrounding this can be open to interpretation, remember this. You know your child better than anyone, and if something seems wrong, or you feel your child is communicating with spirits, trust your gut instinct. Of course what you then decide is best is down to you. Personally I see no harm, and actually think our young people should embrace the possibility of other dimensions co-existing with ours. Providing no one is negatively affected, spirit communication can be a joy. A friend can still be a friend, whether imaginary or not.