Comments from the canyons: Children with imaginary friends not any worse off than those without

Through the years, we have visited about the many changes in attitudes toward various foods and beverages.

We were told not to eat eggs because they could have near fatal effects. Coffee was a sure way to poor health. Suddenly, both became healthful if eaten or drunk in moderation.

I have had an interest in the changes in attitudes in psychology or the mental health area. Certain actions are normal one day and abnormal the next. One that caught my attention recently was the notion that children who have imaginary playmates are just as normal as those who don’t.

I learned early on to keep some of my actions to myself when answering questions or writing reports on my childhood. Of course, I had imaginary playmates when we lived in those canyons at Ima. When a child has much time to spend alone, he or she is apt to have at least one imaginary friend, but that was considered to be abnormal off and on through the years.

I used to report on the actions of my “friends” to my parents and grandparents, and they would even ask about them on occasion. They didn’t seem to think I was any more abnormal than usual when I would describe the various activities I could see in my “mind’s eye.” I remember reporting on watching them play baseball and doing a lot of running. They were as active as was my imagination.

After we moved to town, those friends disappeared because I had some real friends with whom to play. I couldn’t even find then when we would go to the canyons for a brief visit. They served their purpose for a little child who liked to have friends around, and left when they were no longer needed.

Along the way, I learned not to mention that I had such friends because just the mention could cause what little sanity I had to be questioned. As I recall, Mother cautioned me on the subject because she had read an item that disturbed her. By that time, I was OK with keeping their existence to myself because I no longer needed them. She told me most definitely to avoid telling anyone their names because they were a bit too unusual for a child to use as names. Thus far, I have told very few people those names and don’t plan to change that habit.

While studying abnormal psychology and child psychology in college, I kept my thoughts to myself when we would read about the problems of children with imaginary friends. They should be analyzed, treated, and watched carefully. Later, children with such friends were said to be just as normal as those who didn’t. They just had very vivid imaginations and should even be encouraged to retain the friendships as long as they needed them.

Naturally, I was pleased to listen to a recent report about the normalcy of children who created their own little world.

My friends certainly filled a void when I needed them and then went back to the imaginary place from which they had come when they were no longer needed.

We can have such friends, eat eggs, and drink coffee.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.

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