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Imaginary Parents?!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was just wondering if anyone else has come across this and how you've handled it.

Just recently, dd1 (3.5 years old) has started talking about her 'other parents' who are ever so much nicer than her real ones. They have names (Sarah and Tunnan?!), and they are really cool...they don't wash her hair, they have juice in their house, they let her play in the bathroom, etc.

Whenever this mommy is being annoying, she'll mention casually that her 'other' mommy doesn't do that/does do that, depending on what she wants/doesn't want to do. She'll even tell us that she's lived here long enough, and she needs to go back to her house now.

Whenever she says these things, we generally just say how much we'd miss her if she ever didnt' live with us, and that we love her very much. When she doesn't want to do something, we talk about the reasons for doing it (if it's necessary), and proceed.

About the juice...I just say that I'm sorry, but this Mommy doesn't have any juice - just water here!

She's not been horrible about it or anything, and in a way it's quite amusing. But has anyone else come across this or anything similar? I would really love to hear your stories, how long it lasted and how you handled it.

post #2 of 14
That reminds me of this new book by Neil Gaiman (?) called Coraline. Coraline stumbles into another dimension where she has an "other mother " and "other father"
I won't give away the story, but the "other" family is quite sinister, it is a good book for about age 7 and up.

I'm not sure how old your daughter is. The book is kind of scary, but appropriately so for a child.

has anyone else read it??

Blessings, Kelly
post #3 of 14
Carolyn, I hate to break it to you but....you seem to have one creative little girl. It seems like your dd is using her imagination as an outlet for her frustration. That's pretty cool. Isn't it common for kids to have imaginary friends?

Boy, I am trying to picture what Sarah and Tunnan must look like: dirty hair, rotten teeth from all that juice...:LOL

It seems like you are doing a great job when you talk to her about her other parents.
post #4 of 14
My son doesn't say he has imaginary parents, but he has an imaginary friend named Timmy, and Timmy's daddy does things faster than his daddy... ie... we were putting new software in the puter to use it for a TV, and ds1 tells dh that Timmy's dad was done already!! LOL!! Dh said good for TImmy's dad with a thin lipped look..

It'll be funny someday when you tell her when shes older..

Warm Squishy Feelings...

post #5 of 14
Well, my daughter's imaginary parents had a bigger house and car LOL! That phase passed pretty quickly, though.

My brother had an alter-ego (his image in the mirror) when he was little. Whenever he did something wrong, it was the mirror image that had actually done it. Conveniently enough, the mirror image also had two evil sisters, just like my brother did in real life...
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi - thanks for the replies. Dyan, your ds's friend Timmy and his very efficient father (as well as your dh's response!) cracked me up...too cute.

Glad to know this is just a normal phase some kids go through. I do think the 'other parents' thing is funny...it's just when she talks about going to live with them that it does worry me a tiny bit. I have visions of her walking out the front door to try to find them...they sound so REAL when she talks about them, you know?

I haven't read the book about Coraline...my dd is 3.5 years old, so maybe a little young. I'll keep it in mind, though, in case this isn't just a passing phase!

post #7 of 14
Well mine has plenty of imaginary friends (the one that visits the most is a shark named Zoe), but when I am angry with one of them, they start calling for thier brother--like I'll be standing at the end of the hallway telling the one who has just made a mess playing in the bathroom sink to grab a towel and clean it up and they will reach around me crying and saying "Miles help me" Like I am some terrible mom and they are just so poorly treated, it really is quite funny.

Perhaps this is a time that giving her the fantasy would help. While pouring the water, soaping the hair, shutting the bathroom door, say "It must be fun to never wash your hair, Do sarah and tunnan wash thier hair?, How far away do they live?" "I like jusce too, I am going to pretend that my glass is holding a beautiful purple juice that is made from blueberries and raspberries. What kind is yours?" Although mine haven't brought up the extra parents (yet ?) I do use this sometimes. For example crying about m&m's at the grocery-"It would be nice if we could get some m&m'. How many could you eat? Would you have them for breakfast? What is your favorite color?"

I think this works, because now the child feels really understood. I know we think we sound empathtic when we say, "you want to be dirty, but now the hair has to be washed", when all they hear is- but now the hair has to be washed. I have found that my children are usually able to handle not getting their way, but not getting thier way on top of feeling misunderstood makes them upset.
post #8 of 14
My dd had imaginary friends about the age of four. A year later, she still talks about one of them.

We lived with "Mippo" and "Hicka" for a long time. "Hicka" is still with us occasionally, usually when DD has an issue or idea to deal with. Kind of her way of working new things out.

Mippo, while he was with us, spent a lot of time in the corner and apparently had a very filthy mouth. That guy was constantly in trouble.

Hicka was a bit more well-behaved, but since she's the only one around most of the time now, she gets in a bit more trouble than she used to.

I say "he" and "she" but they are sometimes the other gender. The only one that was always a boy was her 'boyfriend'..."Jack". He wasn't around long. We're grateful. lol

She also went through a phase where she said "my mommy lives in the closet." and then "my parents live at the fire station" (there's one just behind our house). They weren't necessarily anything we weren't, they were just extras, I guess.

I support imaginary friends to an extent. I respond to her stories about them like I would if she was telling me about someone at school. I don't ask about them if shes not talking about them or reserve a seat or whatever for them...that's up to her. I let her initiate imaginary friend play...I sort of feel crazy otherwise.
post #9 of 14
I didn't mean that you should start the play, just if she has already mentioned them, sometimes if you can just be there with your child for a while they can deal with the frustration and annoyance better.

I don't ask about them if shes not talking about them or reserve a seat or whatever for them
I agree, I think my post was a little confusing.
Perhaps this is a time that giving her the fantasy would help.
Maybe I should have said "giving in to the fantasy" not just telling her why that would never work. Just listening.
post #10 of 14
When ds1 was 2, he used to talk about his "little brother and baby sister"(I didnt have anymore children at the time). He told everyone he met that mummy sent them away to live in the hills with lots of grass. The family thought it was cute but the cashier at the grocery store didnt quite understand! The weird thing is, I went on to have miscarriage, ds2, miscarriage and then dd. I wonder if he knew something back then......
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
That's too funny, chellemarie...I do like hearing these stories about imaginary friends...

Thanks for your ideas, Mallory - I think I may feel a bit odd about carrying through, but what you are saying makes a lot of sense. It's easy to forget sometimes just how much power we have over our children....even when we are trying NOT to exert power over them in an authoritarian way, etc.

It must be frustrating to be a child, at times! (almost as frustrating as it sometimes is to be a parent...) :

Wow, Shenjall - it does almost sound as if your ds knew something. A bit difficult to explain his stories to at the local store, though! lol
post #12 of 14

Re: Imaginary Parents?!

Originally posted by Carolyn
I was just wondering if anyone else has come across this and how you've handled it.
oh yes, lol, my niece had a whole other family, and they all lived in a purple castle and it was so much better there. i mean, you couldnt get any better than a purple castle, could you??

i beleive my sister just basically ignored it. i mean, not IGNORED ignored, but didnt give it any energy.

post #13 of 14
Oh that sounds like me and my imaginary husband (who fills in all the gaps where dh lacks) and when I start accusing dh of not being or doing this or that he says, "Like the man you should have married does?" He has a sense of humor in it, and helps me find it too, as I struggle to wake up to reality--that the beauty in our relationship is how we grow, not what perfect place we started from.

I fantasized about other parents too, and I would suggest welcoming that exploration and keeping a sense of humor.
post #14 of 14
Filthy haired and rotten toothed!!! I would say her real parents are at least prettier!!!!:LOL :LOL :LOL :LOL
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