Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » Cousin Pretends Other People’s Kids Are Hers

Cousin Pretends Other People’s Kids Are Hers

Asked by on with 1 answer:

I have a 22 year old cousin, who I’m not very close to. Recently I’ve become concerned about her behavior. Multiple times a day she posts memes or reposts on Facebook about being a mother. She has never had a child!

She also seems obsessive toward my brother’s daughters. Sometimes the girls spend a weekend at her house and she will post hundreds of pictures to Facebook during that time. Also, another family member told me that she was forcing them to call her “Mommy” when she was watching them and had them calling her boyfriend “Daddy”. I’ve also seen/heard her refer to my brother’s daughters as “my kids”.

I’m concerned that this behavior indicates a mental health issue. It definitely doesn’t seem normal to me. Unfortunately, I seem to the the only person in my family who is concerned about this. I’d really like some advice about what I should do.

Cousin Pretends Other People’s Kids Are Hers

Answered by on -


I share your concern. Have you asked her what this is about? From your description, it doesn’t sound at all like a fun game that she is playing. At the least, it sounds more like she is aching to have children and is putting these little girls in that slot in her life. Of more concern is that she may be delusional.

I can’t venture a guess on the basis of your letter. All I can do is suggest that the family shouldn’t ignore it. The kids need to be clear about her relationship to them. Your cousin should not be supported in her make-believe behavior.

I’m also concerned that she is posting so many pictures of the kids on Facebook. I’m surprised the parents are tolerating it. Please caution them that unless the posts are only going to immediate family members, she may be putting the children at risk. It’s a sad reality for all of us who like to share our family photos, but we do have to be careful. There are predators out there who troll for pictures of kids.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Cousin Pretends Other People’s Kids Are Hers

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Cousin Pretends Other People’s Kids Are Hers. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.