Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Children and Imagination

  1. #1
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Kenai, AK
    Posts
    18,666

    Children and Imagination

    So not to bring facebook drama to the boards, but I'm curious to find out if I'm the minority on this issue.

    A friend of mine's mom (the same one who invited herself and her family onto my family's vacation) is all upset because my friend and I are not discouraging her granddaughter (who is four) from having imaginary friends/talking of imaginary things.

    The latest one is a video of the child hosting a tea party with my friend and me. She didn't have real tea, just the air kind that most kids her age do... and it got a little silly. There were frogs and lizards in our tea and my friend was "poisonned" and fell into a deep sleep. Nothing she doesn't get from fairytales, etc.

    The child has imaginary friends and apparently her grandmother is none too happy about it. She is demanding we discourage all imagination because "we live in reality."

    My opinion is Imagination breeds creativity which we're lacking in the younger generations (mine included). I see nothing wrong with believing in make believe when you're four, it's how you explore your world at that age. We never start the imagination, we just play along. She's an only child, who else is she going to play with at 7pm before bed?! LOL

    Am I completely off base (said grandmother says I am because I don't live in reality)? Is it really so dangerous for her to play dress up and create storylines with people who "aren't real"?

  2. #2
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    9,495
    Toni, I'm a big fan of kids' nourishing their imaginations, and most kids probably go through a stage of having imaginary friends. It's not just okay; it's healthy. It's endorsed by psychologists, not just by creative folk such as thee and me. The ages of from three to six or seven seem to be the prime years for this stage. If this grandmother attempts to stifle the behavior in the child, she may be doing the child's development an injury. This woman sounds ignorant, unhappy, and contrary, and her approach to child-rearing, at least this aspect of it, is not helpful. Kids do learn the difference between fantasy and reality in good time, as their brains develop that capacity, and an imaginary friend does not hold them back.

    Here's an interesting article on the topic, and there are many others online:

    http://voices.yahoo.com/the-very-rea...15.html?cat=25

  3. #3
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Kenai, AK
    Posts
    18,666
    I knew I'd read that she was not "too old" to still have imaginary friends - her mom was worried about it this summer. Sometimes the kid does seem to have no concept of reality vs fantasy, but ultimately she's figured it out. We even had that discussion last night when she told me Dragons are only in fairytales after I told her dragons were one of my favorite animals

  4. #4
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    9,495
    I've always been pretty imaginative, but I've also loved real-life stuff. One of my best friends is big on science fiction and fantasy and has always written (very good) fanfiction, yet she was also captain of her debating team in college and became a lawyer. She recently published a sort of fantasy-adventure novel. (It's got bodice-ripper sections in it, so I'm not going to recommend it. I read it to support her, but I skipped those parts.)

    Though most kids go through the early stage of imaginary buddies, later predisposition to enjoying fantasy depends on individual temperament. The girl who grew up next door to me (who also became a lawyer) was not much of a bookworm, though I did my bit to give her the classics. She went through the Babysitters Club craze, but that's rooted in real life. When I gave her the first Narnia book, she explained to me that those things "couldn't really happen," and she never got through the book. I, on the other hand, still reread my copies of the Narnia chronicles. As long as you don't expect a prince to rescue you and solve all your problems in real life (which I think is a rather pedestrian branch of fantasy anyway), I can't see a problem in enjoying imaginative literature or thought up until any age. Rather, I see a problem in the grandmother's attitude, which I've seen before. It tends to think that "anything I believe in right now is what everyone should believe in." I'm so glad this little one has a friend like you, in whom she can see the fun of imagination and the practicality of a realistic outlook at the same time.

  5. #5
    Custom Title Rachmaninoff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    593
    Wow, seriously? Kids shouldn't fantasize and play "let's pretend" games? People certainly have some ridiculous ideas about kids.

    Agreed with what Olympia said: it's entirely possible to "live in reality" and still enjoy exploring imaginary ideas and scenarios. Adults do it, too. Are these people against fictional movies and books? Dressing up in costumes? Storytelling? Historical reenactments (yeah, based on things that actually happened, but it's still pretending to be someone you're not in a different time)? Geez.

    On an anecdotal note, I did a lot of the kind of play described as a child and I grew up to be definite realist (some people would say killjoy skeptic).

  6. #6
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Staring at the ocean and smiling.
    Posts
    15,962
    The last time I heard people worrying about children having imaginary friends, it was by someone worrying that the "friends" were actually demons. The same woman also thought Harry Potter was demonic.

    I had both friendly and unfriendly imaginary friends. The Monster Under the Bed and The Monster In the Closet were particularly scary. I have no idea if having these imaginary unfriends hindered my development or not. The Monster Outside, Springer, was kind of fun, since I was always able to outwit him, and a great confidence builder.

  7. #7
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    107
    I don't have children, but there is no problem with a four year old having imaginary friends. Most research suggests imaginary friends are extremely common at that age (45-65% depending on the study). Nobody really knows if this type of imaginary play contributes to creativity (some research suggest it improves verbal skills), but given it's mass prevalence it's obvious it doesn't do any harm. And it's not particularly rare for children to have imaginary friends well into age 7 or 8.

    My view is that if something is that prevalent and no research suggests it's harmful, than it's probably a perfectly natural component of child development. I wouldn't become concerned until she reaches past 7/8 and is still playing with imaginary friends (especially if she becomes socially withdrawn).

  8. #8
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Kenai, AK
    Posts
    18,666
    The thing is this is something somewhat NEW for the Grandmother to say - to me it came out of left field, she just took her to Disney World for crying out loud. And the child got to "meet" the princesses and other characters... so I'm completely confused as to what we were doing playing pretend that was so wrong. The tea set we were playing with is the one her grandma bought her!


    I still have imaginary friends that I bump ideas off of, not going to lie. I had a lot of imaginary friends (and enemies) growing up, but I'm the biggest "realist"/"pessimist" ever. That's why I love going to Disney, I get to relive childhood safely without judgement. For a week or two I get to live in fantasty! LOL


    Doris - you bring up an interesting point and maybe that's why the sudden change, we ARE doing a study on angels and demons in our Sunday Evening Bible study, but no one has even suggested playing pretend or having imaginary friends is demonic. I'm just very miffed, and I'm sure I'll get an earful today at church since I dared to call her out on the whole thing and didn't agree with her. Soooooo looking forward to that.

  9. #9
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Staring at the ocean and smiling.
    Posts
    15,962
    I did a quick Google, and yes, some ministries want to discuss demons in this vein.

    http://www.staciespielman.com/ImaginaryFriend.htm

    Demonic Spirits Who Play The Role of Imaginary Friends

    In the course of my former ministry, I worked with a number of harassment victims who'd either had an imaginary friend as a child, or who had a child who had an imaginary playmate. In some cases, this imaginary friend first made an appearance in a time of stress or trauma. In some, for children who habitually talked to a doll or stuffed animal, the doll or teddy bear suddenly began talking back!

    A friend's daughter who was a victim of demonic harassment had a stuffed duck named Quack that she used to play with everyday. After using a Ouija Board with her friends, Quack began to "talk to her." Her brothers teased her mercilessly about carrying on conversations with Quack, often reducing Sally to tears. Finally Quack disappeared. Sally had loved Quack. He'd been her best friend. But when her dad asked what had happened to her duck, Sally said her brothers had teased her so much that she'd finally killed him.

    As an adult, married, and with children of her own, Sally became addicted to both anti-depressants and alcohol. Often, she would take her pills with a glass or two of wine. Then came the night that the Quack or Ouija Board spirits began urging Sally to take another pill, another drink, and another, and another. ,,"Think how good it makes you feel, Sally. Just one more..." Bottom line, Sally ended up in the hospital having her stomach pumped, and would have died if her son hadn't found her in time. Though I'm no longer in touch with Sally or her family, I'm certain the spirits who tried their best to kill her through an overdose of drugs and alcohol are still very much with her.
    Perhaps the Grandmother ran across this sort of thing?

    Perhaps you should discuss this with your Dad-isn't he a minister-?

  10. #10
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Kenai, AK
    Posts
    18,666
    No Dad was the Youth Director for 15ish years at the church I attend now (dad and mom moved on to another church... long story on that one). He's just as miffed as I am over this whole ban on imagination that's suddenly upon us.

    That being said apparently grandma is so upset with me she's not talking to me. SCORE! She has no idea that I see that as a reward!

  11. #11
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Staring at the ocean and smiling.
    Posts
    15,962
    I was hoping he could help with Grandma.

    How about your church's minister?

  12. #12
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    9,495
    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    No Dad was the Youth Director for 15ish years at the church I attend now (dad and mom moved on to another church... long story on that one). He's just as miffed as I am over this whole ban on imagination that's suddenly upon us.

    That being said apparently grandma is so upset with me she's not talking to me. SCORE! She has no idea that I see that as a reward!
    I have a whole bunch of evangelical friends who are big fans of fantasy literature and films, including the Narnia books, A Wrinkle in Time, and Lord of the Rings. They have no problem with it at all, though many of them do draw the line at Harry Potter. At least this woman is not arguing directly with you about the matter.

  13. #13
    Figure Skating Is A Dangerous Sport Dee4707's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    16,687
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    As long as you don't expect a prince to rescue you and solve all your problems in real life (
    What!!!! Tell me it isn't so, Olympia!! I am wounded!!!

    I remember vividly my childhood fantasy friend .... I loved her...she was my best friend. I could tell her everything. Her name was Ava.

  14. #14
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Kenai, AK
    Posts
    18,666
    Yeah, I'm not going to push it... the kiddo was hanging out with me and her mom today in the church while we "remodel" the women's restroom (it needed a facelift so we took it upon ourselves). She was "playing with her friend Jake" (from "Jake and the Neverland Pirates). I took pride in "encouraging it" by making sure to say hi to Jake and to tell them both to have a good time but be careful playing in the toy room.

    At least he keeps her occupied so her mom can get things done!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •