Our childhood is the basic for our later development and self-esteem. The relationship between parents and children are therefore of great importance to how the children's life as adults will be. Experiences in our childhood somehow stays in our subconsciousness. Our childhood is often decisive of to what extent we are able, as adults, to marry and establish a family characterized by love and harmony.
Compared to other children his age, Calvin is, in many areas, way ahead of his age. But, in other areas in life, he probably should have come a bit further. When it comes to his imaginations, he has stranded at the level of a four year old. It is just around the age of four that imaginations like his, is a big part of children's life. (However, it is necessary to add that many of Calvin's fantasies are far more advanced that any of a four year old!)
The children's relationship to reality and their surroundings are developing rapidly around the age of six. Still the world has many unknown secrets, and the child are not always aware of what is and isn't possible. It is very interested in supernatural creatures, and often makes up fantasy friends. (Like Calvin does with Hobbes) These fantasy friends does not have to be the result of loneliness or insecurity. They can be found with all sorts of children.
This phenomena seems to function as a kind of ventilator for the children. When they sometimes are able to escape to this fantasy world, they can have the company they want. They can also give vent to their feelings by giving the fantasy friend their own qualities, and making them do things the child itself does not dare to or cannot do. A feeling of inferiority can be reduced through a fantasy friend that is smart, talented, strong and kind. This is exactly the qualities that Calvin has given Hobbes.
The fact that Calvin often lies can to some extent be excused, knowing that children his age often have problems with separating between fantasy and reality. It is therefore important that parents are aware of this, and doesn't automatically punish the child. This understanding of a child's natural development, can only partly be found with Calvin's parents. This may also be part of the reason why Calvin has not yet gotten through this period.
It is important that parents are indulgent to their children in the first phase of life. Calvin's parents must be said to be far from indulgent. But, as said before, children are normally not as extreme as Calvin. It is also of great importance that parents, as early as possible, make clear rules about how far the child is allowed to go. This is important not only for the well being of the child, but also for the parents. Calvin's parents has done this, and they try the best they can to carry through these rules. The only problem is that Calvin isn't always interesting in following them.
The rules set up by the parents must not be unreasonable strict, as this may give the child a feeling of insufficiency, which can result in a inferiority complex later in life. The rules that Calvin's parents have made, must be said to be very sensitive. They are not extremely strict and not to liberal.
When we study Calvin's family, and ask if what we are being introduced to is realistic, the answer is yes, and no. This because we see both realistic and unrealistic elements in the strips.
Calvin's fantasy world is often exaggerated, especially when we think about his huge knowledge of, for instance, time travels back to the cretaceous period. No normal six year old are even close to Calvin's knowledge on this subject.
If we study his parents reactions to his behavior, these are also to a certain extent unrealistic. The sanctions against Calvin are pretty moderate, taking into consideration all the bad things he does. An example of this is a strip where Calvin demolishes the entire living room with a baseball bat, in order to kill a tiny fly. The punishment he receives is being sent outside to play.
If we forget about Calvin's many inventions, we must admit that the family is characterized by love and harmony. Like all other families, they have their share of problems once in a while, but these are always solved in the end. A conclusion must be that Calvin and his parents make a pretty ordinary family after all.