Never in life are dreams so important as during childhood. Usually the importance of dreams decreases dramatically after or even during childhood already. The good news is that among the respondents quite a few - though still a minority - had at least some support during childhood.


The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli There is no way around it. Talk about children and dreams, and the topic of nightmares comes up. In general many respondents complained about nightmares during childhood. There is no indication that longtime dreamers had a different childhood in this respect than the general population. Very few learn to handle nightmares in a constructive fashion. Sometimes a parent or grand parent helps, as will be seen below. Some dreamers find out how to handle nightmares themselves only much later in life.

Parents who are dreamers

The best support can be expected from parents who are dreamers themselves. However, not all dreaming parents share their knowledge with their children. Notice that both fathers and mothers are reported to be active dreamers.
I've always told my family my Dream Stories. I came from a long line of Story Tellers. My Dreamzzz were regarded as fine Story fodder..... My Step-dad was a Lucid Dreamer & Psychic & we'd share Dreamzzzz. He had the ability to wake up & return to the same Dreamzzz & continue where he left off. I used to envy his Dreaming Ability & tried to Practice many of the things that he could do.
I've always shared my Dreamzzz with my friends. They were usually envious of my "Epic Novels".
Sharri Lorraine
My mom was and still is a huge believer that your dreams are the key to understanding what is going on in you "secret place." That you may think that you have successfully hidden in your awake mind troubles, stresses and worries, but they always come back in your dreams. I don't think that I was too aware of what the community around me thought of dreams. I do know that my childhood friends, the closest ones, always thought dreams had more meaning than what was on the surface.
My dad was always a big dreamer, so that was always a sort of bond we had. All the other family members would joke about it. I don't remember discussing it with anyone outside of the family.
My father being very interested in spiritual matters - though not telling me a whole lot about it encouraged me to remember my dreams - and to incubate dreams.
I didn't notice much interest in dreams in my local community, or within my parents: although my mother tended to tell me her dreams occasionally. However, my sister and myself had a slightly larger interest in dreams or, more specifically, nightmares because one particular recurring nightmare would occur to both of us on the same nights. [..] And perhaps this grew because of my mother sharing a dream perhaps once a month. She was also given two "key to your dreams" books (the silly A-Z ones) which I enjoyed reading, and evoked much interest.
Also see: Mirjana, Rastlin and VJ.

Sometimes parents have their own experiences with dreams, but are reluctant to share this with their children.

My mom would say to me, "Just tell yourself that it is a dream." She doesn't talk much about her dreams but when she does she seems to have a definite control over them that I never have had.
Two respondents learned about their parent's interest in dreaming only much later in life.
My mother took great interest in the subject of dreams. She taught me how be aware that I was dreaming so that I could end a nightmare. I was not aware that the subject was unusual but was aware that most people did not think much about them.
I started tracking my dreams in my mid-30's because I became aware of a certain amount of precognition and thinking that I must be losing it, began to read more about the subject and keep a dream journal. Then I spoke with my mother who spoke very frankly about her own experiences. She described what I believe was an incident of astral projection that occurred when she was younger. She never spoke about it to anyone for fear that she would be considered crazy. My father always considered her ideas on precognition and such (what few she shared with him) a little nutty.
Dreams were never discussed in my family. Recently, I was surprised to discover that my mother has a very definite opinion just about any dream image I happen to mention to her. Unbelievable !
Liudmila Valls

Interested parents

Even though not all parents can be expected to be experienced dreamers, it would be nice if parents were at least interested. Quite a few respondents had this luck.
My sister and I often discussed our dreams. I don't recall having nightmares as a child. Very positive experience.
My family seemed accepting of dreams, although no one studies dream analysis in any way.
Larger community to me would be defined as neighbors, friends - as per that description I would say I do not recall any positive or negative info or discussions on this. Although, I do remember friends describing strange dreams to me and others, with no "unusual" reaction from anyone - very accepting.
I remember my mother allowing me to sleep with her one time because I was so frightened, she didn't understand how I could be so scared and said "that's enough it's just a dream." she did ask me what it was about and told my father he talked to me about it a week later. He was more supportive and understanding.
My own experience was that I enjoyed my dreams, I had few nightmares, and I loved sharing my dreams with others. My family was mildly interested but not enough to explore their own dreams or help me explore mine. I don't know what the community attitude was.
In general, when I felt the need to tell a dream of mine to somebody, especially my mother always listened attentively.
Mai, 20, Germany
My immediate family was mildly interested in dreams and had no objections to my telling about them. 1 or 2 of my friends had an interest in dreams and we used to tell each other about some of our dreams.
My family talked about dreams a lot. It was more for fun than anything else, but we took them seriously enough. We just didn't know what to do with them.

Parents and children's creativity

For parents who are not familiar with dreaming themselves, the link to creativity seems to be a way to handle dreams of their children.
The adults in my family were basically kind to and tolerant of me when I would tell of a dream. Much the way they were about my drawings and paintings (I was slated to be the family's visual artist). They never discouraged me and would listen (or look), but I never felt deeply engaged by them. So I would only share when impelled by enthusiasm.
Patricia Grace
While my friends and parents could not address the secret emotional / imaginal power dreams had over me, I don't recall any direct suppression and my mom even encouraged me to tell them. I always knew she didn't believe me, like I was making up a story, but it was like a game, and she would say "Oh, and then what happened?"
My family and larger community were not particularly interested in dreams, but encouraged me in remembering them as a kind of imaginative exercise.
Cedar Rose
Eventually, some parents grow uncomfortable with their children's dreams. Both Karen and Vicky were discouraged from telling dreams any longer. Especially Vicky suffered from this because telling dreams was closely related to her love for telling stories. Both however continued to further explore the possibilities of dreams.
During childhood I used to tell my mother my dreams in the morning. Eventually though, she discouraged me. She thought my dreams were too "weird" and they made her uncomfortable.
My parents viewed me as a highly imaginative person and initially nurtured my story-telling ability; for it was very clear to everyone that my dreams and the stories I told were intricately related. In essence, when I told a story, I was not making it up as everyone thought, but rather relating directly what I had experienced either in my sleeping state or while "day-dreaming".
By the time I was 11 or 12, my parents began to worry that I lived in a fantasy world and could not tell the difference between it and reality. They therefore discouraged me from talking about my dreams and telling stories and suggested that I keep a journal instead and start writing down my stories, from a writer's point of view. This I did, and still do today, but the loss of my story-telling ability left a profound mark on me. I don't think that my parents or the larger communities that we came across understood the significance of dreams and their purpose.


After months of being terrified by nightmares, my Grandmother took me under her wing. Without knowing anything about Lucid Dreams or Dreamwork, she very patiently encouraged me to re-enter my nightmares and eventually face my "monster" who had be haunting my sleep...turned out to be my big brother! :) I haven't had a nightmare since then (40 yrs).
About two years ago my grandmother was telling me about surgery I had fourteen years ago and about the guy I had brought out from under a deep coma in about a minute. He and I met in another alternate plane and he told me he didn't know how to get back, and after a couple of days, that's when I woke him up. After I heard that story, I started to remember what happen and even more amazing is that I remember the man's face and name.


My family never talked about dreams at all, but me and my siblings shared dreams.
RAA, The Solar Monk
Also see: Therese and Hobbes.


A little bit surprising (to me) is that the church often is helpful. I find it surprising to learn that the church still has a perspective on dreams. Also, because of the strong link between dreams and spirituality / religion, it is amazing that organized religion known to always claims an absolute monopoly on all things spiritual and religious, would allow people to connect straight to the source.
When I shared this with my family they took me to see our preacher and he was very supportive of my experience.
Valley Reed
During my childhood I did not always remember my dreams and was not always aware of them I have dreamed a lot of people who died in my family and when I did I always prayed for them. My Mom and Dad always told me to pray for them they said they needed some help to get to heaven. The attitude of the community I was part of which was a catholic school system also said to pray for people I dreamt about I also use to have nightmares when I was a child.
I was born and raised as an Old Apostolic and we had to write our dreams down and give it to the priest. The only expectations I ever had was that my dreams could help someone. I started writing down my dreams at an early age as they were important to our Church.
I recalled many dreams and no one could address them well. My family listened to dreams at meals but more from an amusement angle. Where I grew up - in a Latin American country of Catholic predominance, dreams are often thought to be predictive or communications from others - live or dead including possible messages from our Guardian angels or from God.
My Family never took dreams too serious, but never ruled out that they could have importance in every day life.
I grew up in a Christian Community that taught me that God speaks though dreams when ever he wishes, and they also taught me that dreams are my subconscious.

Supportive communities

I'm wondering whether cultures that are more tolerant towards dreaming do result in more people paying serious attention to dreams. Keyword is probably "serious" here, respondents from other cultures give an impression that a culture interested in dreams does not necessarily know a lot more about what to do with dreams.
In my community, from family to community in general, people seem to be open to the possibilities that dreams can be everything from manifestation of inner hopes / worries, to sorting of day's events, premonitions, inconsequential mental confusion, etc...
My community (Croatia, Europe) thinks that dreams are interesting, but they pay much importance to them.
I don't think that the community I was raised in denigrated dreams in any way ; neither did they worship them. I think that "modern society" is actually fairly open to the concept that dreams are another way of thinking; many people have said that a solution to their problems came to them in a dream, or an idea came to them as an image in a dream.
J.R. Harvey
My mother had a lot of dreams and she did her own interpretations aloud while my dad and I were listening. Larger community considered dreams as predictions of the energy levels (emotions) someone will experience in the future.


First, to kick in an open door: While children often want to talk about dreams, parents usually do not want to discuss dreams. Those parents who are interested in dreams do not all know what to do with dreams. Naturally, in the past there were few resources to learn about dreams. Parents today may have it easier because now there are at least plenty of good books available.

Among the respondents, there are quite a few examples of how a parent or grand-parent learns a child how to work with dreams.

Somewhat surprising, the church occasionally helps, better and perhaps more often than the community in general. Very few see the community they're part of as helpful.

Email Harry Bosma for any comments or questions.

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