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Savage Love: Kinky kid

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I recently discovered that my 14-year-old stepson, who lives with us full-time, has been stealing, wearing, soiling and hiding his toddler sister’s pull-ups. I’ve found them after he hides them in his closet, which also serves as a general storage area. After discussions with him, I’m certain that wearing them is a pleasure thing for him. (He says “curiosity,” but this has been going on so long that he knows what it feels like.) He has even stolen some of the neighbor girl’s Baby Alive doll diapers to wear and soil. We’ve told him he has to stop stealing diapers—from our neighbor, because stealing is wrong, and from us, because these things are flippin’ expensive. We are pretty grossed out by it, despite being pretty open-minded people. I may be more grossed out by the prospect of piles of dirty diapers hidden somewhere in the house, but the thought of purposely peeing your pants isn’t pleasant, either. I believe we have a fetish growing here, and I don’t think a parent needs to be involved in it, but he’s stinking up the joint.
–Parent Is Seriously Stumped

Is your stepson a diaper perv? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t.

“This may only be a case of ‘curiosity,’ just as his stepson says,” said Jesse Bering, PhD, a research psychologist and science writer who regularly contributes to Slate, Scientific American, and other publications. “Young teenagers can’t express their overwhelming urges easily. We provide no ‘socially appropriate’ sexual outlets for 14-year-olds, masturbation aside—which, let’s face it, can get monotonous. So his stepson may simply be exploring the available materials that he, ahem, comes across.”

Bering, who just finished his second book about human sexuality (Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us), remembers doing some pretty freaky stuff himself at age 14. “I recall some exciting moments involving peeing in the bathroom sink,” said Bering. “It’s hard for me to get into the head of that lascivious kid I once was. The idea of pissing in the sink with an erection while looking at myself buck naked in the mirror isn’t particularly arousing to me these days.”

Since it’s share time in group: I remember stealing panty hose when I was 14—I’ve never told anyone about this—and I enjoyed some exciting moments looking in a mirror while wearing them. Just as Bering didn’t grow up to be a pee-in-the-sink fetishist, I didn’t grow up to be a panty-hose-in-the-mirror fetishist. So while it’s probable that your stepson is a budding diaper fetishist, it’s also possible that he’s just horny and experimenting. That said…

“Even if it turns out that his stepson is really into diapers, it’s a pretty harmless fetish,” said Bering. “As with any paraphilia, it would be next to impossible to ‘cure,’ even at his young age. It’s just something he’ll need to learn how to handle responsibly. You may be grossed out and, yes, a festering pile of discarded diapers stuffed under his bed would be a sanitary problem, but never underestimate the power of a frank conversation grounded in truly unconditional love.”

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