Lessons On Being More Open To Our Children's Spiritual Experiences
By Bob Olson
Many psychics and psychic mediums recall having childhood experiences that indicated a gift as early as age three. Some psychic mediums saw dead relatives in their youth. Others actually carried on a conversation with these spirits. Still, other children seemed to know things psychically that allowed them to predict future events. Despite telling their parents about these events, these childhood signs of a spiritual gift went unnoticed by adults in almost every case.
The few childhood incidents that hinted at Vicki’s gift are more vivid in Vicki’s memory than in her mother’s. This is not surprising since parents of gifted children often fail to notice the signs of the child medium’s gift because they write them off as common childhood behavior. This is especially true when the parents do not share in the psychic gifts of their children.
Vicki’s mother, Nancy, appears to have some advanced intuitive abilities, but she does not see or hear spirits. In fact, until about fifteen years ago, she didn’t give the afterlife much thought. Who would have time for such introspection with five children running around (or four children up until the time Vicki was eight, when her sister, Amy, was born)? Nancy admits, “When you have four children, with so much happening, you miss some stuff. I’m sure there were signs of Vicki’s gift when she was younger, but I don’t remember them. I don’t say this with guilt; I’m just saying there must have been some signs that I probably just thought of as cute and funny.”
Nancy did recall a couple happenings that she considered odd. “There was one incident when Vicki was ten or eleven. We were looking at old papers that I had stored, and we came across the children’s baptism cards. Vicki said to me, ‘I remember the man who baptized me…’ then Vicki described this small elderly man in a brown Friar Tuck-like robe with a rope around his waist. She said he had a long beard, was stocky and had sandals on his feet.” Nancy laughed softly as she continued, “I, too, was at the baptism, and that’s not the same man I saw. The minister who baptized all four of my children at that ceremony, including Vicki, was over six-feet tall, blonde, clean-shaven, and a physically fit young guy in his mid-thirties wearing a black robe. I remembered him clearly because he was a pretty darn good-looking guy,” she giggled.
“Vicki was only about four years old at the baptism, so when she told me this story at age ten, I just thought she was being cute. The man she described was so far off from the truth…” Nancy trailed off, her thoughts floating off in the distance. “I thought she was just being a kid,” she finished.
Vicki recalls the baptism like it was only yesterday. This isn’t surprising since memories of spiritual occurrences are usually more vivid than memories of normal everyday events. Whether it be childhood incidents where monks appear instead of ministers, “visitation dreams” where deceased loved-ones come to say hello while we are sleeping, or near-death experiences where people die, cross-over into the afterlife and then return back to life, the distinct memories of these experiences seem to never fade with time. Vicki has described the baptism story to me a multitude of times, but she never sways in her articulate recall. Here is how she once described it to me:
As a four-year-old standing at the alter to be baptized, and after my two brothers and one sister had taken their turn, I stood up, raised my head, and to my surprise an old, matronly looking monk with several monks on both sides of him, stood staring down at me. He smiled and held my hand in his. I hesitated slightly, but it felt right somehow so I wasn’t scared. The monk spoke softly to me, telling me that the scene was mine alone to behold, although I didn’t understand what he was talking about at the time.
He then reached into a large stone bowl of water, and with his thumb he pressed against my forehead as he repeated the word ‘Sight’ several times over. I felt such a sense of calm at the pressure of his hand on my forehead that I almost fell asleep standing up. I remember stumbling backward a bit, and when I reached out to get my balance, the hand that reached out to me belonged to a 35-year-old blonde minister rather than the monk. The monk who had, for lack of a better word, ‘christened’ me, was now gone, including the monks who surrounded him.
It wasn't until weeks later that I told my mother about the old monk. I don’t think she had any idea what I was telling her. And it wasn’t until I was ten that he visited me again.
Following this unusual baptismal event, Vicki continued to be an ordinary young girl for the next six years. It wasn’t until the age of ten that, as she mentioned above, another exhilarative episode took place. This time, a bout with scarlet fever initiated another visit from her bearded-monk friend. Here’s how Vicki described it to me:
As I have mentioned previously, it wasn't until the age of 10, as a fourth grader, that I saw the monk again. This time, however, the circumstances were different. I was diagnosed with scarlet fever. For ten days I was isolated from my family. The words I overheard from adults talking were, ‘possible blindness,’ ‘brain damage,’ and several other possible consequences that echoed through the hallway. I noticed a lot of relatives were now visiting who rarely came to visit. I concluded that I must be dying.
One night, after a long day with a high fever, I began to feel sorry for myself. I remember wondering if I would ever feel well again, that maybe I really was going to die. It was then that the monk with the long beard—the same monk from my baptism—appeared at the foot of my bed. He was standing, actually more like hovering, there looking at me. I couldn’t see his feet; his hands were wrapped into his cloak; and his face was partially hidden by his hood.
I can't say that I didn’t feel some fear this time; I was definitely afraid. As he moved closer and leaned over me, I realized that I couldn’t move, like I was paralyzed. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t do that either. Then he sort of sighed and it felt like his breath touched me. It actually felt like his breath cooled my fever. I just laid there in my bed unable to move.
The monk then reached out his hand and touched my forehead like he did at the baptism. Again, he whispered, "Sight," before smiling at me and then floating away. Then he just disappeared. I remember sitting up and feeling like my fever was gone. Then I just went to sleep.
The next morning when I got up, I ran into the kitchen where my mother was making me some tea. I remember asking her if I could have something good instead of tea because I was starving. She just stared at me in disbelief. I felt great and was running around like normal. It wasn't until later that evening when I sat down to dinner with my family that I told them about the monk returning. Nobody said anything, but my mother looked at me and squeezed my hand. I felt like she believed me, this time.
Wouldn’t that be a nice story if Vicki’s mother, Nancy, finally recognized that her daughter’s “fairytales” were real? But this is reality, folks. Nancy told me that she remembers Vicki telling her about the monk after the scarlet fever mysteriously disappeared, but that squeeze on the hand had “patronize” written all over it. I can just imagine the wink Nancy must have given her husband, Charlie, as she responded to little Vicki, “Sure, honey, I’m sure he is the same man you saw at your baptism.” And then I’ll bet she leaned over and whispered to Charlie, “Wow, that was some fever…”
I’m kidding, of course. But Nancy did admit to me, “I really didn’t think much about it. I assumed it was either the fever or she was just being a kid.” If you are wondering, “How could Nancy not pay attention to that?” The answer is simple: We all know, even if we don’t have children, that parents listen to thousands of stories every week from their children. Imagine Nancy with five little rascals running around. It is hard enough paying attention to their basic needs; are most parents supposed to be on the lookout for mystical encounters as well? Maybe if your Dana Sculley or Fox Mulder from The X-Files, but mothers like Nancy often use up all their energy just trying to handle life on this side of the ethereal barrier.
It is important to note that most children are much more “in tune” with their psychic abilities than adults, probably because they haven’t yet been trained to trust and rely on their other five senses more than their sixth sense. Just the fact that children have not been away from the spirit world long may also be a factor for their increased awareness.
It is not uncommon for children to see and talk with their spirit-guides or the spirits of deceased relatives (even if they aren’t guides). Yet, many parents write this off as their child having an “imaginary friend.” I heard of one mother who recently asked her son who he was talking to all the time. When he named, and accurately described, his grandfather, the mother questioned further. Within fifteen minutes, her son told her several details about his grandfather. The interesting part was that the boy’s grandfather had died before he was born. Even more amazing, the parents had never talked about the grandfather in front of the boy because they thought he was too young to understand the concept of death. I guess the boy had a more discerning understanding of the afterlife than his parents realized.
Children may also retain memories of their past lives. I have a friend whose daughter often makes off-the-cuff remarks like, “No Mommy, Sandy’s not your sister, she’s my daughter,” and “Mommy, Nana is my mommy, not yours.” This three-year-old has been making these comments ever since she could talk, usually correcting her mother for stating these relationships erroneously. The mother always considered the comments “child’s talk” until I began telling her of similar stories. It was after my narration of these stories that she confessed her own daughter’s account. Today, she no longer debates these associations with her daughter, accepting that they are both correct.
So what happens when you grow up with a mother who understands matters of the spirit and isn’t afraid of them? You end up with children like those of Vicki and Bret: Ryan, Josh, Adam and Amelia. Over the last couple years, I’ve had the privileged opportunity to know them and interview them on this subject. What they have to say about spiritual matters speaks volumes.
I initially interviewed Ryan and Josh, Vicki’s eldest sons, only ten months after first meeting Vicki. At the ages of fifteen and fourteen, respectively, these boys were still willing to talk openly about their spiritual experiences. I interviewed Adam (age thirteen) and Amelia (age eleven) more recently. At these ages, it is difficult getting much more than “yes” or “no” answers. I suspect it would have been more difficult if I interviewed them with their older brothers over two years ago. Still, like their older brothers, Adam and Amelia had no hesitation talking about their experiences with spirit, which were quite insightful. I believe most children their age wouldn’t understand half my questions, never mind give me insightful answers.
Ryan told me about visitation dreams where he has been visited by his grandfather and his Aunt Heather (Vicki’s younger sister who died in an auto accident). Like most visitation dreams, Ryan says these dreams are very clear and in color. “After I dream about them, I feel like I just saw them so they aren’t really gone,” said Ryan. “I feel like they are visiting me in my dream,” he added, “and it makes me feel good to know they are around.”
His brother, Josh, has seen his grandfather the same way Vicki sees spirits. “Our Papa is around. I’ve seen him. Sometimes he just walks by and, a second later, he disappears.” I asked Josh if he was scared when he saw his grandfather. “No, it was comforting. Knowing he is still here is very comforting,” Josh told me.
Josh said he sees his grandfather two or three times a year. So I asked Josh about the first time he ever saw him.
“In the old house before this one, we had a desk in my room. I woke up to go to the bathroom and Papa was just sitting on the small desk. Neither of us said anything. He was wearing a cloak with sandals and his skin was a blue color; I don’t know why. I waved to him as I walked to the bathroom and he waved back. It was as if I see him all the time. I guess I expected he would still be there when I got back. When I returned, he was gone. It wasn’t a dream; it was definitely real, but at first I wondered if I was dreaming. Then I realized I was awake and I was happy to have seen him,” said Josh.
Adam shares the family gift as well. Vicki expects that if any of her children grow up to use their gift professionally, it is likely to be Adam.
“I saw a woman once,” said Adam, referring to a spirit he had seen. “She was wearing white and was just sitting on the couch. It was the middle of the day, so I wasn’t dreaming. It was sort of scary, but sort of not because I knew from Mom that she wasn’t going to hurt me. I just saw her for a few seconds and then she was gone,” said Adam.
“Another time, I was on the bus when I looked out the window and saw some people riding like a carriage kind of thing with horses pulling it. It looked like they were from a different time because of the clothes they were wearing. It looked different than if it were real people, but I couldn’t see through them like you might expect to see through spirits. But then I asked my friends on the bus if they saw them and they said they didn’t see anything. So I figured they were ghosts or something,” explained Adam.
Adam has also had what I would conclude to be visitation dreams, but he doesn’t recognize the people he sees. “It’s not anybody I know,” said Adam. “I just see their heads and faces. I see them real quick. It’s like they smile and then I wake up. I don’t think they have a message for me, not that I can remember,” he added.
Those aren’t the only kinds of dreams Adam has experienced. He also has premonition dreams now and then. “I often have dreams where I dream something and then it happens in real life,” said Adam. I learned that this is something the other children regularly experience as well. Adam’s older brother, Ryan, told me the same thing in my interview with him about two years earlier.
“Sometimes I dream of something and the next day I find myself doing that exact thing, in the exact same situation,” Ryan told me. Amelia, the youngest of the siblings, has had similar dreams.
“Sometimes I’ll have a dream and then it will happen the next day. Or in a week or so, I’ll remember that I saw those same people before in my dream,” Amelia told me.
While it is not uncommon that people experience this sort of phenomena, Vicki’s children seem to experience it more often than most. They don’t describe it as feeling like déjà vu, but rather a premonition of what is about to take place. Déjà vu is more of a “feeling” that something has already taken place, a feeling of familiarity with a person, place or event. What Adam, Amelia and Ryan have described is not just a feeling, but a vivid memory of a dream that was more like a snapshot of the future than a indescribable sensation.
Are these kids just better able to remember their dreams, as if they have an enhanced recall of their dreams, while most of us only experience that thing called déjà vu? Or are many children having these same experiences but nobody is interviewing them about them or listening when they speak about them? Or finally, are Vicki’s children simply more open to these experiences because their mother has taught them not to push them away and feel foolish or ashamed to have them and talk about them? Perhaps the fact that Vicki talks to her children about such phenomena, and that they acknowledge these events in their conversations with her, allows them to both remember them more and allow them to occur without pushing them away.
Amelia has also seen spirits like her mother. “I had just gone to bed for the night once when I saw my Aunt Heather standing near my doorway. She was very clear and all white. She didn’t say anything to me, but it made me feel good to see her. It made me feel happy to know that she is still here,” Amelia explained.
Amelia has seen other spirits as well. “Every once in awhile I see quick glimpses of people walking by my bedroom door. These are just people who are in the house though; I don’t know who they are. It’s sort of scary because they walk by real quick and then they are gone. A couple times I’ve got up and looked in the hall, but nobody was there. Usually I don’t even look. Sometimes, if I have to go to the bathroom, I don’t even go because I’m scared to walk out of my room,” she said laughing.
After hours of interviewing Vicki’s children, and now having known them for more than two years, I can tell you that Ryan, Josh, Adam and Amelia are some of the most level-headed down-to-earth kids you could ever meet. They achieve high grades in school, are active in several extra-curricular activities, and are some of the most polite and well-mannered kids I’ve had the pleasure to know. So, in case you were wondering what effects it might have on children to know that spirits exist and watch over us, these are four healthy examples to indicate positive results from such a childhood knowing.
Perhaps we should be asking ourselves what the implications are for not helping our children with their spiritual development. I’m not referring to religion, necessarily, as most people do not hesitate to expose their children to religious beliefs. Instead, I am referring to the attention adults give to the spiritually related experiences their children are having, regardless of their religious affiliation or beliefs.
My wife, Melissa, used to have an imaginary friend named Sally while growing up. At least that is what adults taught her to believe—that Sally was imaginary. It wasn’t until we had begun learning that children often see and communicate with spirits that Melissa realized her friend, Sally, may not have been imaginary at all. It may have been that Sally was a spirit-guide, or someone from the spirit world with whom Melissa had shared a past life. I don’t know why some children have relationships with spirits in their younger years, but Melissa’s story is not uncommon.
If your child is having conversations with someone invisible to your eyes, don’t assume there isn’t really someone there. I don’t mean to imply that children do not make up people in their imaginations; I’m sure that many do. But my research has indicated that many children, like the childhood version of Vicki and psychic mediums like George Anderson and Gordon Smith, have seen or communicated with people not of this world. Vicki, George and Gordon were taught by adults that such behavior wasn’t acceptable. We can only speculate how things might have been different had their parents been more open to the possibility that their claims were not just imaginary, childhood nonsense or “kids being kids,” but were real experiences.
Still, parents cannot be held to blame for the reactions of other adults when it comes to these matters. Teachers, neighbors, aunts and uncles will all have an affect on a child when they react to his or her claims of spirit contact. Children are impressionable. This is how we learn what is acceptable behavior in society. If enough adults tell a child that he couldn’t have really talked to Aunt Betty at the funeral home because she was laying dead in the casket, eventually that child will learn to accept this as truth. Resultantly, these impressionable children may begin pushing away their unacceptable visions or communications with spirits because they don’t want to be laughed at or seen as a freak anymore.
On the other hand, Vicki’s children sway me to believe that even one open-minded parent can have a positive effect on a child that can offset the limiting beliefs projected by other adults. When asked if they tell other people about what their mother does for a living, all four of Vicki’s children admitted that they are selective with whom they share this information. Every one of them told me, in slightly different words, that “some people are not ready to believe.”
The good news is that society is undoubtedly shifting in our spiritual consciousness. Today I have friends who—once rock-solid skeptics—now watch John Edward’s television show, Crossing Over With John Edward, ritually. Who would have guessed? Plus, last year there were probably more bestselling books on the subject of mediumship than on any other single subject. What does it mean? It means that people’s minds are opening to the possibilities. And with this societal shift comes a change in attitude that will be passed down to our children, if only subconsciously. For this reason, I don’t fret about the limiting beliefs that adults spread to the next generation. I simply trust in the process. I trust that everything is working just the way it should.
BOB OLSON is a former private investigator and skeptic who began using his investigation skills to research psychics, psychic mediums and the afterlife in 1999. This research led him to establish www. OfSpirit.com Magazine (2000), www.AfterlifeTV.com (2011), www. BestPsychicMediums.com (2001) and www. BestPsychicDirectory.com(2007), three of the most trusted and influential sources for understanding and locating trustworthy psychics and psychic mediums.
Today Bob Olson has tested hundreds of psychics and psychic mediums around the world and has become a leading authority on the subject with TV, movie and documentary producers, journalists, book publishers, event promoters, as well as law enforcement agencies and private investigators. Bob’s achievements in psychic and psychic medium investigation and testing has further allowed him to evaluate and isolate the key components that set apart the best psychic medium readings from the mediocre—leading him to create his famous (although secret) 15-point test.
Bob has documented his findings in a multitude of articles. He has authored the Forewords for three books: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Communicating With Spirits, Consult Your Inner Psychic and The Complete Idiot's Guide To Divining The Future. Bob has also been quoted as an expert in How To Get A Good Reading By A Psychic Medium and Empowering Your Life With Angels.