OK, we're a completely atheist family of four who last stepped into a church more than six years ago for my brother's wedding.  Until recently I would never have considered raising either of my kids with any religion but recently my younger daughter has been going through some very difficult times and now I'm reconsidering.  For the past couple of years she's been claiming that she hears voices and sees ghosts.  She has an active fantasy life and seems to have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and our society's (primarily Christian) fairy tales.  For example, we had repeatedly made it clear to her that we do NOT celebrate Easter or do anything special on Easter day, yet my wife and I woke up one cold Easter morning a few years ago to find her running around our back yard in her pajamas looking for Easter eggs.  She has often asked us about god and Jesus and we've always told her that they're nothing more than ancient myths that evolved from even older myths.  This seems neither to have satisfied her curiosity nor done anything to convince her that they're not real.

 

Things came to a crisis point a couple of weeks ago when we got a call from her school's social worker.  This social worker read us a long passage from her Writer's Notebook that described profound feelings of isolation and depression and thoughts of suicide.  We also learned that she'd been telling her 5th grade teacher and the social worker about the voices she hears and the ghosts she sees.  At a parent/teacher conference I scheduled with her 5th grade teacher (who was also her 4th grade teacher) I found out that she'd been telling her teacher about these voices & ghosts for the past two years and that they've become MORE troublesome, not less, as time has gone by.  When she was asked about suicide she said she wondered if she'd go to heaven if she died and perhaps things would be better there.  This from a 10-year-old for crying out loud!!!  Wherever she got these ideas, it certainly wasn't at home from her mom or me.

 

Her biggest problem, I suspect, is that she really has no friends.  I can't remember the last time she was invited to a birthday party or was invited over to someone's house and when we try to arrange playdates for her the parents never call us back.  Of course this is understandable; I too would avoid someone who hears voices and sees ghosts.

 

We are, of course, going to be taking her to a shrink and a psychologist but I've begun to think that church might be able to give her answers to her questions about god and spirituality and the sense of community that she needs.  She could get involved and make friends with kids her own age in a youth group and she could talk with adults whose brains are perhaps wired more like hers.  I really DON'T want to bring her to church; my wife and/or I would also have to become involved and we have many important things to do with our Sunday mornings & afternoons.  Somebody please talk me out of this, and convince me there's a better solution.

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The problem is that we live in a pretty remote exurb of NYC and there simply aren't all that many theater / arts / Sci-Fi activities in our area.  In fact ever since we moved here about seven years ago the whole family has been feeling a tad isolated.  My older daughter is doing well socially but my wife and I haven't really met anyone new.  I thought it would be nice to get away from the crowd and live in a sparsely-populated bucolic environment but I have to admit that I miss the street noise and the nosy neighbors of our old NJ neighborhood.

My dd has autism and has trouble talking to/relating to other kids.  We tried sports and other things.  Eventually, we tried art classes at the community arts center.  I don't know if your town is large enough for an arts center.  Since artists are sometimes considered a little odd, they often accept children who are different.  My dd has been happier in art classes than anything else we have put her in.  I doubt she'll ever be a great artist, but it allows her to express herself and she has a lot of fun. My dd was finally able to relate to other kids in art class.  Plus, the teachers usually have a lot rules about not making fun of someone's art or inspiration. 

 

Does she have a journal?  You may want to encourage her to write down her stories.  Sometimes writing things down can help.

 

Most of my adult life I have had what I thought were auditory hallucinations.  I thought I had some deep psychological problem.  I kept hearing soap operas, commercials, and music, but  mainly commercials.  I talked to a shrink and a radio repairman about it.  It turns out I have a filling that is working as an amplifier to radio and tv signals.  I am actually hearing radio and tv inside my head.  Apparently, it is not an uncommon thing to have happen. 

 

I always know if someone has a faulty CB, baby monitor or tv anywhere in my neighborhood.  I ignore it now unless it is really loud (like commercials sometimes are).  If I had this as a young girl instead of as an adult, I would have thought I was hearing voices and been really upset.  Is there an AM christian radio station in your area?  You might want to tune in to see if what she says has any similarity to what it is saying.  If it does, you may want to talk to your dentist.

 

 

My dd loves video games!  If only other girls loved them as much as she does.  she relates better to boys.
Kids, in general, need structure. My eight year old has a minor disability (hypotonia - a lack of muscle tone) and we have had him attend a local dojo (martial arts school) since he was 6. Not only does he get a kind of physical therapy while he's there, but also the benefit of being with kids his own age in a supportive/structured environment.  

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