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three pairs of lovers with space



The following is an account “in a somewhat abridged form” of what a mother had to say about her sons’ relationships from the ages of eight, twelve and thirteen with a family friend, a man she knew to be a boy-lover and to have been physically involved with them, albeit in an apparently very limited manner. 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 fourth 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).


Paula is the mother of three sons. All three had a relationship with an adult man who had already been accepted as a friend of the family. Even now that they are fully grown, a good friendship still exists.

“It ran its course quite naturally,” Paula said. “Just like adolescents stop giving their parents a good-night kiss, the caressing disappeared from the relationship.” She made a concerted effort to avoid using proper names or recounting too many details. “In this rural area, if these friendships were to become known, it could put us in great danger.” Her sons were eight, twelve, and thirteen years old when Paula noted that something was afoot in her house.

13 playing piano 1985 d4

“He was our eldest’s music teacher, and came to the house once a week. Based, above all, on the behavior of our youngest boy, who was especially willing to cuddle. It was initially just a feeling, but then I simply came out and asked the music teacher. He was quite honest, and said: ‘Yes, I am a pedophile.’ And there you are faced with the facts of the matter. We could see how he treated our children, as well as how he’d taken the discovery in stride. We asked him what he felt for our children, so that we could tell them ourselves. We in fact did go over it with the children afterwards, in the presence of this friend. This immense candor has been extremely important.

Later on, he even invited the children to sleepovers. We consented, but of course initially you sit at home thinking: Oh dear—Have we done the right thing? But we were buoyed by the fact that we’d been up front about everything. And by the fact that our children were capable of declining things which they did not want. This is how we’d brought them up, and one just hoped that this would continue. And this seemed to be the case.

Our youngest recounted quite spontaneously what had happened there. Nothing out of the ordinary! He’d asked the older friend to be prudent, not to rush anything. It was also nice for him to be able to talk about it. I still recall what my oldest two boys said regarding a couple of the sleepovers: ‘Mommy, I was allowed to sleep in the big bed this time.’—‘Oh,’ said my husband and I, ‘did you find this nice?’ Yes, he thought this was marvelous. I could also well imagine my youngest saying this. He said: ‘You know what I really like, Mommy? When he tickles my back!’ I said: ‘Oh yeah—he does that?’ We tried to pose our questions in a playful way. We had already learned from the older friend that our son really liked being tickled; anything more, however, was not allowed. Our children also recounted this quite spontaneously: ‘Only, when he got to my pee-pee, that I didn’t need, that, I found silly.’ Then we said: ‘Ah, he shouldn’t do that?’ We were always lighthearted about it, because we absolutely did not want it to be laden with great significance.”This is really the greatest mistake you can make. Because children do not know the importance adults attach to sexuality. We construct this. As adults we are stuck in our own thought-world, but this is something entirely different from what happens between pedophiles and children. The hardest part is that one must oblige one’s children to keep quiet about such friendships. But this has to be, Pedophiles can be fired from their jobs, apprehended, and even criminally prosecuted. And one must spare such a friend from this. But on the other hand, one wants to let one’s children know: Boys, this is nothing out of the ordinary, you’ve no need to be ashamed. The taboo. The opposition to it, is difficult for me. This is also why I became a member of the NVSH—Pedophilia Working Group.[1] I’ve come to have a great deal of respect for the mentality of the people I’ve met there. But one also has to risk being honest about oneself. Certainly one has one’s doubts, but children are demanding their own rights. When one thinks back on one’s own youth, one should not stick his or her head in the sand.

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I am not apprehensive about abuse. A child’s presence is often enough. Then the older friend takes the child into the bed and strokes him or her. What is there to say against that? Parents do this too. Children also crawl into their parents’ bed. Then one also cuddles with them. This is part of their upbringing, I feel. In any event, there’s already enough fear of touching. It is probably a fear of evoking emotion. Notice that I did not say, ‘certainly’: Study it! But experience teaches us that this type of life-experience is really surprising. A pedophile is someone who loves children. He does not wish to frighten or let down the child. Perhaps he does make unintentional mistakes. But child-rearers do too, don’t they? From the very beginning of our involvement with this, we’ve been open and honest. Parents should make it clear to their children that the latter can talk about anything with them, even things the parents don’t understand so well. One can also start conversations with pedophiles themselves. And if he does make a mistake, must one suddenly look at him askance?

I know that a whole lot of children provoke things themselves. We’ve also experienced this at home. It was something along the lines of: How far can I push the parents?

When one does this with someone who’s already had to control himself, then, yeah, one time he’ll probably go too far. Then, one has to get stuck by the rosebush. Care must be taken to ensure that the child learns to establish a different sort of contact. When openness prevails, one has the parents in one’s corner from the very beginning.


[1] The NVSH is the Dutch Union for Sexual Reform. [Translator’s note].