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three pairs of lovers with space



The following is an account “in a somewhat abridged form” of what a man who had raised nine children had to say about the sexual relationships of four of them with men. It was published in the Dutch magazine Nieuwe Revu of 5 April 1988 as a response to that magazine’s request for parents to tell about any adult lovers their children may have had.

It was published in this form as the fifth chapter of Secret Love: Eros between Boy and Man (2022), an anonymous translation of Wolf Vogel’s  Heimliche Liebe: Eros zwischen Knabe und Mann (Hamburg: John & Ernst, 1997). It is Vogel’s Foreword to this that implies that the four children involved were boys.


“With these sort of relationships, I worry more about the adults than I do the children. It is always one’s environment that finds such relationships problematic,” recounts John, fifty years of age. John has raised nine children: one of his own, four official foster-children, and four additional children whom the parents successively consented to hand over to him. Four of the children had relationships with adults.

One of these children did not want John to tell anyone the details of his personal experiences. He speaks, therefore, only in general terms as a parent and a child-rearer. John says:

Kauffmann Wm. Nambla XII 4 18 1991

“Children choose their own relationships. I never used the power that I could have exercised; nor did I wish to. I stood by the kids. This also meant that occasionally, I was in conflict with society. Of course, at home, I had the last word. But this happened—at most—a couple of times a year. Children had the first word, and this happened on a daily basis. If the child chose a relationship which I didn’t care for, we had a discussion about it. Because, the relationship with your own child is maintained through thick and thin. In the end, as either parents or foster-parents, you can’t just say ‘shove off’ when a child steals something, or is nasty or foolish. Pedophilic relationships have their own value, their own strengths and weaknesses. The fact that the child becomes a little king, well yes, I won’t begrudge him that. This has its own worth, which I, as a parent, am not able to offer him. Because, I have other children, a household, and a job to consider. As a group leader at a children’s home, I have sometimes dealt with runaways. Their people already know where to find them. And I would find them, occasionally literally in bed with a man. Yes, they lay there quite contented. Because these kids have every reason to seek consolation, I’ve always held back, thus placing a roadblock to the use of official force. I’d undoubtedly been thinking for some time: If only I too could offer this warmth and attentiveness! I have intervened only when the children were extorting the adults. What can one do for children? One can point them towards acontraceptives, but usually they’ve long since learned about them in the schoolyard. Practical decisions—which as an adult one must make—are communicated: consent to stay overnight, arrangements concerning times. One must then also accept an adult visiting one’s child, even in his or her own room. One should not just suddenly decide to do some dusting in there. I am more and more concerned about the adult in such relationships—whether the older friend be male or female—than I am the child. The adults are open to blackmail! They are vulnerable and on shaky ground.

I personally have no problems with the sexual aspect. Children climb into bed with their parents, go into the shower with them. If one permits these things, one realizes that they have a healthy interest in the parents’ bodies and sexuality. Then I say: Now, this is a good thing. One calmly lets them examine one’s body, calmly lets them look at a sexual life as parents. One lets the child into it, shares one’s feelings, calmly allows one’s arousal to be viewed. Lets them really see what your sexual life is like. The great advantage to that is that later on, you’ll hear about what they themselves are experiencing. On the other hand, children also set their own limits. But for the most part, they have no problem sharing things with adults. It is always the outside world that finds it problematic.Children are searching for themselves. This happens above all in the transitional years—at ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen—when they put more distance between themselves and their parents. The parents are, at times, just old people in their eyes. At that point, the older friend is everything; for a certain period of time, he represents the ideal. But after about a year, everything returns to normal. It comes to an end—sometimes suddenly, but usually, gradually. At that point, the two have different needs. But a lasting connection comes out of this as well—a good relationship.

Van der Kant Wim. Profundus04
                                                                      Profundus by Wim van der Kant

Of course, children are not their parents’ property. Children run around with a hundred secrets, which is a little idiosyncrasy that they probably even find quite thrilling. There are also secrets just due to the customary balance of power; school, the family. Pedophiles in particular are very vulnerable, quite powerless. They can be reported. In the final analysis, the child is always the powerful one. The child can talk with his or her parents, can simply stay away from the adult. By way of example, parents and teachers have far more power over a child. I myself strive for a power equilibrium in relationships with children.”