JANUARY :: We share more of our favourite haunted locations, further frightening experiences, and some possible fascinating evidence of the paranormal.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Why do children see ghosts?

I am constantly using Google to trawl through online paranormal forums, and the question I most commonly see popping up is whether or not children can see ghosts. Opinions vary, from children having over-active imaginations, to them being more susceptible to their environment due to their rapid development. Interestingly, I have also come across the suggestion that because children's eyes are still developing, it may be that they can perceive what we cannot.

But then why do some children see the unseen whilst others do not - or cannot? Are these abilities simply inherited, passed down from generation to generation? Or is there a simple scientific explanation for it all?

My maternal “Mad Aunty Doss” (as she was affectionately called) always told my mother that the female side of our family had the ability to communicate with the dead. She would often know before anyone else that a member of the family had passed away. But she also told my mother when I was born that I had “The Gift” (whatever that was to be); however, no one ever paid her too much attention, probably because ghosts (and being able to see and communicate with them) wasn’t discussed in social situations as much as it probably is today.
I spent the first ten years of my life in a haunted house. For someone that supposedly had "The Gift", it was the perfect introduction to the paranormal. The house was an old Californian Bungalow, with all the period trimmings, located in Sydney, Australia. My parents had learnt of the previous occupants via our neighbour: An elderly couple who had kept to themselves until the husband passed away (in the house) and the wife had been transferred to a nursing home. 

From the moment we moved in, right up until the moment we moved out, my family experienced a variety of paranormal phenomena, including (but not limited to) hearing the sound of disembodied footsteps, having personal objects moved from one place to another, to seeing full-bodied, spectral apparitions.

As a child growing up in this house I would often see the apparition of an elderly man. I remember the first time I saw him was just after we moved in and I would have been no more than four years old. The gentleman would regularly watch me, until such time as I was moved into a different bedroom to make room for my brothers. Whilst I was still aware of his presence, I was no longer watched all night. In all that time he never spoke; he just watched me. But as I grew older I found that I couldn’t see him as clearly as I once could. Where once he was clearly identifiable, he eventually become nothing more than an outline or shadow, but I could always sense that it was the spirit of the same elderly gentleman.

But he wasn't the only spirit I saw as a child, nor would he be the last of my lifetime. After awhile, I began to expect them. The more I expected them, the more prominent and the more frequent their visitations became. Growing up, I encountered many spirits of both good and not-so-good persuasion. I believe these early encounters with the paranormal cemented my ability to see and experience what others either cannot, or choose not to see.

I have had numerous encounters over the years from simple visitations to being physically attacked. I remember a frightening occasion whereby I tried to ignore a visitation from a spirit, and was quite literally dragged from my bed. On another occasion I had returned from being away for a week or so, and in response to this absence, the spirit "threw" down my books from the top of my bookcase upon my return. I was present in the room, lying on the bed, when I heard a crash. But as I looked to where the sound had come from, expecting to see books everywhere, I discovered instead that they had been neatly stacked beside my desk. It simply was not possible for ten books to fall off my shelf, miss the desk entirely, and land in a nice, neat pile.
I now have two young children of my own. My own childhood encounters with the paranormal has made me more open to the possibility that my own children will encounter the same.

My eldest son had a number of strange occurrences take place when he was between the age of one and three. We lived in a 1920s weatherboard cottage, but unfortunately I have no information about the previous occupants or whether or not they may have been haunting our home. We fell in love with the cottage immediately upon viewing as it had all its original stained glass windows and plaster ceilings. 

Until the birth of my son, I hadn't felt any entity residing within its walls. My son slept just down the hall from our bedroom, and like all parents these days, we kept a baby monitor beside his bed. From about the age of one my husband and I could hear other voices coming through the monitor. This did not happen every night and for a long time we passed it off as interference. This was until one night when we clearly heard our son’s name come through the monitor, and he promptly woke up, screaming.

But this was not an isolated event. My son’s toys would also constantly move and play (music) throughout the night, mostly during the early hours of the morning. It got to the point where we not only had to switch the toys off, but also remove the batteries. But, much to my husband’s surprise, the toys continued to play.

Then when my son started talking he would tell us about a man in his room, and for the first time ever I felt uncomfortable in my own home. I began to fear for my child. Would he see what I saw? Would he experience the same things I experienced? Would he be attacked, and disturbed, and frightened in the same way I was when I was child? I still carry these fears, especially as my son, now a few years older, still tells me of the things he can see that no one else can. Most often he sees a dog or a small girl when his "eyes are half closed" (his words), or out the corner of his eye (peripheral vision). However, he doesn't yet seem frightened by what he can see.

Most articles on the paranormal that I read over the years about children and ghosts, seem to indicate that if what a child is seeing is a ghost (that is, the spiritual energy of a deceased person), then the majority of these encounters are with family members who have passed. I, however, tend not to agree in this wholeheartedly. Whilst I believe that in some instances the spiritual presence of a deceased relative may wish to visit a child, I am more of the opinion that spirits, whether they are relatives or not, are simply attracted to children because unlike adults who understand logic, children are more susceptible - more vulnerable to their presence simply on account of the fact that they are less likely to dismiss it.
I strongly believe that if I hadn’t experienced anything paranormal as a child, I would be a different person today. For staters, I suspect I would be handling the encounters experienced by my children in a completely different way -  assuming ,of course, that they would continue to have these experiences in the event that I did not. As for my son, time will tell whether he simply grows out of this "phase" of seeing ghosts, or whether his abilities develop and become more tuned - as mine have inevitably become.

Perhaps Mad Aunty Doss wasn't so "mad" after all?

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