Children choose their own relationships

A social worker and foster father describes his view of pedophile relationships. This report is originally from the Dutch magazine Nieuwe Revu and was printed on May 5th, 1988.

Translated by JUMIMA
Original German text

“In relationships like this, I worry more about the adult than the child. It is always the environment that finds such relationships problematic,” says John, 50 years old. John has raised nine children: one of his own, four official foster children and four other children, with whom the parents, one after the other, agreed that the children would move in with him. Four of the children had a relationship with an adult. One of the children does not want John to tell his personal experiences. He therefore only speaks in general terms as a parent and home educator. John says:

“Children choose their own relationships. I don’t use the power I could exercise, and I don’t want to. I am the one who is closest to the child. That also means that I occasionally conflict with society. Of course I have the last word. But that happens at most twice a year. Children have the first word, and that happens every day. If a child chooses a relationship that I don’t like, we’ll discuss it together. Because the relationship with your own child lasts through thick and thin. After all, as a parent or foster parent, you can’t just say ‘get out’ if a child steals, is silly, or is nasty.

Pedophile relationships have their own value, strength and weakness. That the child is a little king in these relationships, well, I’m happy for the kid. It has its own value that I cannot offer him as a parent. Because I have other children, a household and a job. As a group leader in a children’s home, I sometimes had to deal with runaways. They knew how to find their guys. I found them occasionally right in bed with a man. Yes, they were very comfortable there. The fact that the children had every reason to seek comfort has always prevented me from putting an end to this through the path of official powers. Probably I sometimes thought: Could I only offer the same warmth and attention! I only intervened when the children blackmailed the adults.

What can you do for children? You can educate them about contraceptives, but mostly they have long known about it from the school playground. Practical decisions that must be made as an adult are communicated: consent to stay overnight, agreement on times. One must then also accept the adult as a vistor, even in the boy’s own room. You just shouldn’t accidentally come in to wipe dust. In such relationships I am always more worried about the adult, boyfriend or girlfriend, than about the child. The adults can be blackmailed! They are vulnerable and insecure.

I personally have no difficulties with the sexual aspect. Children crawl into bed with their parents and take a shower with them. If you allow that, you will notice that they are healthy curious about the body and sexuality of the parents. Then I say: Well, that’s good. Let them look at your body, let them look at your sexual life as parents. Let the child see it, tell them about how you’re feeling, let your excitement be seen. Let them experience what your sexual life is like. The big advantage is that you will hear what they are experiencing later. On the other hand, children also draw their limits. But they don’t find it problematic to share most of it with the adults. It is always the outside world that finds this problematic.

Children are searching themselves. This happens especially in the transition years, with ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, when they distance themselves from their parents. In their eyes, the parents are old people. A friend is everything then; for a certain time he corresponds to an ideal. But after a year everything turns normal again. Sometimes it’s suddenly over, but most of the time it comes to an end gradually. Then both have different needs. A lasting relationship has also emerged, a good relationship.

Children are not owned by their parents. Children run around with a hundred secrets, that is a piece of their own, which they find exciting. There are also secrets that have freedom at their core. The fact that children are forced to keep secrecy happens precisely because of the usual power structures, school, and family. Pedophiles in particular are very vulnerable, very powerless. They can be rported. When push comes to shove, the child is always the more powerful. The child can talk to its parents, it can simply stay away from the adult. Parents and teachers for example have much more power over a child. I myself strive for a balance of power in the relationship with children.”