Can My Friend Have Macaroni and Cheese, Too? : A Look into Imaginary Friends
Ann M. Guidry
University of Houston- Clear Lake
“Mommy, can Rebecca have some macaroni and cheese, too”? Jill is a three year old who has a friend named Rebecca. Rebecca often accompanies Jill everywhere she goes. She participates in everything Jill does. However, Jill is the only one who can see and communicate with Rebecca. Rebecca is Jill’s imaginary friend. Her parents are contemplating whether their daughter may have a psychological disorder, or if she simply has a rather strong imagination. For decades there has been a great deal of research surrounding the topic of imaginary friendships for children. Is having an imaginary friend a good thing, which indicates a high level of imagination, or is it a sign that something is wrong? Is having an imaginary friend healthy, or is it detrimental on a social level? Imaginary friends are safe and relatively common among children. Having an imaginary friend like “Rebecca” should not worry any parent. It is a sign of a healthy and developmentally sound child.
An imaginary friend is a frequently encountered fantasy and only visible to that child. The imaginary friend can be a person, thing, or even a superhero. The child will speak, play, and address the imaginary friend directly. Imaginary friends are present in children typically between the ages of 3 and 12. It is surprising that a majority of imaginary friends are female, regardless of the child’s gender (Persaud, 2004). Imaginary friends are an important part of pretend play for children; they can provide endless amounts of fun. Children who usually create imaginary friends are typically first born children or only children (Taylor, 1999). This is probably from lack of a playmate. Taylor also states that girls are more likely than boys to create imaginary friends (1999). Having an imaginary companion is fairly common. Research suggests that 65% of children up to age 7 have...