You may have noticed that your 13 year old seems interested in diapers. Your 14 year old may have admitted that he would love to be a baby again. Your 15 year old may be hiding diapers in his closet. You may have noticed that your 16 year old has been looking at pictures of younger children in diapers on the internet. You have no idea what is going on with your kid.
You ask yourself what is wrong with him? Did I do anything to cause this? Is this harmful? Is this just a phase? Is this sexual? Is he gay? Will he become a pedophile? What will my spouse think? What is my son thinking? Do we get tough on him? Do we ignore it? Do we get professional help? Do we buy him diapers if it makes him happy? Who do I turn to for help? Why him? Why me? Why? These are common questions.
This section is designed for the parents of teenagers in mind. This behavior is predominant in boys, but I do recognize girls can also exhibit this behavior. The information should apply to both genders.
You have not seen anything on TV about infantilism. I doubt you ever heard of anyone like this. You can't ask anyone you know for advise on how to deal with your kid about this issue.
This situation has been encountered by many parents over the years, but it is a well guarded secret because of the shame that goes with diapers. Until the net came along, people like myself suspected that they were the only person on Earth with this unusual desire. No easily accessed information suggested otherwise. Sadly, our parents felt the same way. So how did you raise a kid with infantilism years ago? Gut instinct. Unfortunately some of those methods did more harm than good even though the parents had nothing but love and good intentions in their hearts for their children.
After researching this subject deeply, I have noticed we still have a long way to go to educate ourselves. Currently, we have four groups of people trying for the best solution and only one line of communication. You have kids, parents, professionals and people like myself who are now adults. Currently people like myself have established websites to help teens feel they are not alone. These sites are very helpful to your child. I wish they existed when I was a teen. I have designed this section of the website to help you the parent understand your teen and this subject better. I can tell a kid all day they will be fine only to have an uneducated but very loving parent ruin it. If I place myself through the eyes of a typical parent I would get the wrong impression about diaper related sites. It would seem like a bunch of perverts encouraging this "sick" behavior for their own selfishly "sick" motives. For one thing I would be in denial that my son had this behavior. I would probably say someone had to put this in his head. He just couldn't come up with something like this on his own. I would be hurt he couldn't come to me for help. In reality everyone I know would do anything to help your child feel better about himself. They hurt so bad at his age they can't bear the thoughts the same will happen to him. So many people isolated for so long over the years proves his feelings are true.
What is wrong with him that causes these desires? Years ago it was named "infantilism." Many people also refer to this behavior as "regression." I feel that both of these commonly used terms are poor choices, but we are stuck with them. They elude to things that don't really apply to the average person that has these feelings. The "ism" makes one associate this as a disease and the "infant" part refers to someone that is helpless and has to be cared for totally. "Regression" makes one think that the affected person may be a perfectly normal person for their age and the final destination of this trend will have that person in an eventual completely helpless state. It is more a case of a person just trying to hang onto the feelings of a young child. Infantilists progress just like everyone else in life. This is just one small facet of their life that they can't get past and it is something that should not cause excessive worry on the part of the teen or their parents. Adolescent infantilists can also be called a "teen Baby" and/or "diaper lover". A teen baby seeks the real babying experience. Along with diapers they love pacifiers, bottles, cribs, baby clothes and baby food. Being changed and bathed. It can be any combination. They like to feel like a baby and for them diapers mean "security." A diaper lover is more "sexual". While most would really enjoy babying it is the feel, look, smell and sound of a diaper that they crave. Most boys are diaper lovers. It is very rare for a girl to be a diaper lover. They are almost always "babies".
Did I do anything to cause this behavior? Very doubtful. This is probably another reason when encountered years ago parents were reluctant to talk about it. Kids that were potty trained very early or very late appear slightly more at risk for developing this behavior. That is not the rule. He certainly did nothing wrong to trigger the desire. The conscious awareness of a child liking diapers usually occurs between age 5 to 8 and can be sparked by simply seeing another younger child in diapers in most cases.
Is this behavior harmful and must he let go these desires at all costs? No. That is a normal knee jerk response by many parents in the past and today as well. You need to approach this in a rational manner. What he is doing is not a crime. If it was you would already know all the answers. Think about common problems encountered by parents of teens. Drugs- No teen ever died from pinning or taping on too many diapers. Violence/Gangs/Guns Diapers symbolize love and caring. Those are good qualities. Drinking- No teen ever wrecked a car because their diaper was too wet.Gambling-Diapers aren't free but compared to what can happen here they are cheap. Smoking- A rash is easier to cure than lung damage.Teen Pregnancy- No one ever got Pampers pregnant. In reality it is nothing more than wearing an earring, tattoo or whatever else is hot. Instead of following one of these fads your child really is expressing his individuality. Diapers alone are completely harmless.
Is this just a phase? No. Your teen did not just wake up and get this attraction overnight. This has been going on for years. More than likely it was very difficult for him to get diapers, which made it harder for you to notice. While you are not fond of this, neither you or him can wish these desires away. It is NOT a matter of willpower. Also worth noting is that these feelings can fluctuate and seem to be at their strongest during times of stress.
Is this sexual? If he is a diaper lover yes. Apparently a few people only like them though. If he is a teen baby it may or may not be. It might not be and then occur later. Most boys are diaper lovers. Since male sex organs are located outside, the warm, wet, slick feeling of a diaper provides an erotic feeling against them. In girls it is rarely sexual.
Is he gay? It would seem that way if you notice he has been looking at pictures of boys in diapers. That was a worry of mine. I thought you had to be straight, gay, or bisexual. There was no other choice. I definitely was not attracted to girls so that could only mean one thing. Funny thing though, I really wasn't attracted sexually to guys either although they seemed more cute. Having sex with a guy seemed just as yucky as with a girl. I never heard of a "fetish". I am sure my parents had no clue and they didn't go there in sex-ed. A fetish is the sexual attraction to an object or part of the body which is not sexual by nature. Other examples are leather, plastic, shoes and feet. For him it is a diaper. Remember he is attracted sexually to the diaper. NOT the boy. He is likely placing himself as the boy. Being a boy makes the image more real in his fantasy. He could eventually be gay. That goes with any group of people. Should that occur he needs your love and understanding just the same because he didn't ask for those feelings either.
Is this how pedophiles start? Absolutely not. That was my worst fear. That desire comes from wanting to dominate another sexually. From a sexual view "fetishes" and "domination" are almost completely opposite. Fetishes are on the submissive side of sexual nature. While almost all diaper lovers enjoy seeing a kid in a diaper they would not get any sexual gratification by actually touching that child. They are in love with the image. You hear about molestation often, but you never hear "diaper" in the same sentence. Diaper affection is a sexual paraphilia. The most well known sexual paraphilia is cross dressing. Males that feel the need to dress like females just simply don't hurt what they want to feel like.
What will my spouse think? In most families one may be understanding while the other one will not accept this behavior at all. They know all the answers. Believe me they don't. I wish I knew more and few can equal my knowledge. You must be the understanding one if you are researching this. A parent like yourself will yield every time. You are so unsure how to handle this and when you hear a strong voice their's sounds logical. You have got to stand behind your kid. Never compromise that.
What is my son thinking? You might think he is just doing this to freak you out. Kind of like this may be a joke. This is serious to him. He needs them. While babies need them because they can't control their bodily functions he needs them just as much for emotional and/or sexual reasons. Like I stated earlier, diapers alone are completely harmless, but the feelings of being different than his friends take it's toll. Things can go downhill real quick on child with infantilism once puberty sets in. You need to be careful and not call this "sick". It is "different". Your child probably already feels that way so that only reinforces that thought. All of his friends are starting to talk about sex and other things associated with being an adult. While they start pushing toward adulthood, he is thinking just the opposite. While chronologically they are the same age he feels so left out. The ironic thing is they have differences of their own and they would probably love to be just like your son because they have no idea about his diapers. If you say he is sick then everyone is sick because everyone is different including you. This is where you need to be careful. He will be vulnerable to "real" harmful habits such as drugs, drinking and gambling. This can be a form of escape from his dark secret of diapers which really isn't a problem. He will view these real problems as "normal" because many others share these problems. It also makes him seem more grown up to his friends. He is very concerned about his image as he tries to hide this behavior. These problems have damaging effects. Most people who suffer these addictions say something was missing in their life. When the effects of the real problems are felt the perceived problem of diapers really blows itself up. Don't underestimate how big this can get in his mind. I recently heard a gutwrenching story of a mom who found her 14 year old son hung. He made good grades, had lots of friends and no problems involving drugs, drinking or gambling. She is looking for an answer. She may know and not be able to tell. She may not really know. Was his diapers? Probably not. Could it have been? Yes. That could have just as easy been my mom up there. I am sure kids have committed suicide because of these feelings over the years. They can't talk now so I will in their behalf.
Now you have to decide what approach to take. The options are still the same as always.
No way. I will not allow it. I better not see it. You are "sick". Just threaten.
Pros- Your child will really feel the need to lose this desire
Cons- Sadly the urge is too strong. He will be racked with guilt and shame for not being able to comply with your wishes. Your strong words will only reinforce his worries. More than likely he will stll get diapers and try to hide them. You will continue to find them. The cycle is brutal. He will start lying which further reduces self-esteem. Extremely vulnerable to real problems. The ways of getting diapers are scary. He may shoplift, look in dumpsters and risk meeting someone. Suicide very possible when other problems outside diapers combine into a child losing hope.
OK I see it but I will pretend I don't. I don't want to embarrass him. This is his private matter.
Pros-You have not caused damage. He will find out he is not alone by surfing the internet. Many good people can give good advice.
Cons-He may want to lose this desire and be too ashamed to ask for help. Shame and guilt still present. May be afraid of disappointing you. May also acquire diapers unsafely as listed above. Reluctant to talk should real problems occur because in his mind you know nothing of his secret behavior.
Get professional help. He needs to lose this desire.
This has potential to be the best possible solution. It can also backfire. The Pros and Cons depend on what "you the parent" are seeking.
Pros- If you are going to help him come to term with his feelings both of you will be better educated. Shame and guilt reduced. The safest way to communicate. You will have peace of mind you are doing your best as a parent. This is the only way to give diapers up once a kid is in puberty.
Cons-If you go with the mentality he is "sick" and must be "cured" you will likely be disappointed. Even with medication and extensive therapy most young infanmtilists will hang onto their feelings. If you pressure by saying you are wasting my money and you are not trying, you risk all the bad things that accompany having no tolerance for this behavior. Chances are your professional is not very familiar with infantilism.
I will talk to him and buy him diapers if that is what he needs.
Pros-By you seeing it as no big deal he won't feel so different. You will have open communication. This can be very important should a real problem arise later. He will have hope that he can have a normal life as an adult. You will know if he wants to lose this desire. He will be getting diapers safely.
Cons-By accepting this behavior a teen may try in indulge too much in this behavior to the point that it does have the potential to interfere with grades and social life.
Any teenager with infantilism will have quite a challenge. The idea is to make the conditions more tolerable. With good positive talks your kid will grow up fine. Allowing a teen to act out their babying needs is the most sensible approach. Stressing moderation and encouraging them to participate in other activities is advised. Give your teenager all the understanding they deserve. They didn't ask for these feelings and they will need all the love you can give them to help them through these difficult years.