How Should I Relate to the Children in My Life?

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Many people imagine that pedophiles and children must exist in separate worlds and that when children meet pedophiles it can only be an abusive situation.

In reality, most pedophiles have frequently met and interacted with children in a completely normal way. We are not even attracted to most of these children. Children in a pedophile’s life include siblings, nieces and nephews, and family friends. It includes interactions via a job or volunteering. Some pedophiles are parents and have their own children.

Because our sexual attractions are not usually known to anyone else, pedophiles negotiate these situations alone: sometimes with confidence and complete integrity; sometimes with more doubt; sometimes badly. We normally negotiate it without a source of advice.

When we are left to figure this out ourselves, we consider whether our behavior with a child we know is appropriate.

Some fears over this can be realistic or wise. Some pedophiles have overstepped a personal boundary in the past, or they find themselves obsessing over a sexual or romantic fantasy about a child.

Sometimes these fears are not realistic. They could be due only to internalization of society’s beliefs about pedophiles.

We don’t have a set script for how pedophiles should act around children because pedophiles are different and we don’t know you. The most important thing is that there should be no possibility of abusing a child. We have heard from a lot of virtuous pedophiles who have related well and healthily to children. Others avoid children, or children they are attracted to, and we at VirPed happily endorse that decision.

If you do not feel any attraction towards the child and have no thoughts of sexual activity with them, then it’s irrelevant that you happen to be a pedophile and they happen to be a child.

Many people have a prejudice that any pedophile is a risk around any child. Some pedophiles take this prejudice seriously and avoid or are distant with children, even when there is no attraction and no risk to the child.

In this case, the way you relate to that child is going to depend on the same factors as would apply for any non-pedophile.

Some people might say this is not a worry until they are older and you start finding them attractive.

However, when you are considering committing to be part of their life, then it is worth thinking about now.

It’s difficult to foresee the future, but it is wise to plan ahead. How do these possibilities make you feel?

The child remains in your life. You relate to them in the same way as any non-pedophile adult would.

  • You make a considered decision to have less to do with that child.
  • You spend time with them, but notice yourself depending on their approval or attention in a way that isn’t typical of how non-pedophile adults relate to children.
  • You have a great friendship, but the child later realizes or suspects that your actions were about something more than regular friendship, and they are hurt by this.
  • The child finds out you are a pedophile, and they are uncomfortable even though you behaved appropriately and the child has no basis for thinking differently.

Which of these feels likely, and which causes a strong emotional reaction in you?

It’s always important to think about your actions around the child. You have the greatest awareness of the whole picture here — and more ability to think ahead. That gives you the biggest share of responsibility for ensuring the child remains safe.

Many people assume it is the easiest thing in the world for a pedophile to ‘stay away from children’, but we have families and we live in society. Children appear in most people’s lives.

You don’t have to be purposely trying to get to know children to find there’s a child in your life that you are attracted to.

  • You could be the child’s uncle, aunt, or cousin.
  • You could be a good friend of their family from before the child was born
  • You might have a job that normally doesn’t involve children but is public-facing, like retail or service.
  • You might be dating someone who already has a child.

In these situations, you have to figure out whether you think there is a risk — or get advice from someone objective. Many pedophiles navigate these situations with no problems at all and no bad outcomes.

However, if you do see a risk, remember: you may be the only person in the situation who can see that risk. That means it’s your responsibility to figure out how to reduce it. Again, finding someone sympathetic to ask about it could be important.

Many pedophiles have become parents. From our perspective, having heard from many non-abusing pedophiles, this sentence is much less scary than most people would assume. Parenting is an incredible experience, but for a non-abusing pedophile there is a complex extra dimension. This dimension can be—but thankfully isn’t always—the cause of worries or problems.

Some of the worries could be:

  • being sexually attracted to your own child, either early on or as they grow
  • being sexually attracted to your child’s friends at some stage handling situations of intimate care, like bathing
  • complications or trust issues if your co-parent knows about your attractions

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