Hello Jd, and thank you for your thoughtful response. You pose a legitimate question, one that I can actually answer from my own experience as a pedophile that is also a parent and has children of the gender and age range that I typically find attractive.
There is a psychological phenomenon called the Westermarck Effect. This phenomenon posits that “people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to sexual attraction” (quoting from the link above).
This explains how most siblings are not sexually attracted to each other, even when one can acknowledge that the other is objectively attractive or would reasonably be considered attractive by other people. And while the Westermarck effect was clearly not formulated thinking about pedophiles and their young children, experience tells us that it also works when the pedophile has raised the child from infancy.
I have personally never felt sexual attraction towards my own boys, even though they are the type of boys I usually find attractive. It just doesn’t happen, because my paternal instincts take precedence or whatever. I really don’t know how to explain it, it just happens. I have obviously seen my children in situations where if it was any other boy their age I would feel sexually aroused — in the shower, changing clothes, etc. — however with my own children it simply doesn’t happen. There are no ‘inappropriate’ feelings at all.
From what I’ve learned talking to other pedophile parents in the years I’ve spent participating in online communities for non-offending pedophiles — mostly the Virtuous Pedophiles forum — my experience is the common one among most of us. Of course there can be exceptions. The Westermarck effect is not a 100% guarantee. Just like there are siblings that sometimes do find each other attractive — whether they engage in an incestuous sexual relationships is a different issue — there are sometimes pedophiles that find themselves sexually attracted to their own children. In that case, as you can imagine, it is primarily incredibly uncomfortable and distressing for the pedophiles themselves, but in most cases the parental desire to do no harm to their own kids will be stronger and that’s something they will be able to work through and overcome. I won’t try to deny that there are cases where a pedophile has felt attraction to their own kids and have acted on that attraction and sexually abused their children — even though the vast majority of people who sexually abuse their own children are situational offenders and haven’t done it out of sexual attraction. These cases are obviously terrible and are to be condemned as strongly as— perhaps even more than — any act of child sexual abuse. But the reality is that these cases are very rare, although they may seem more frequent because they’re the kind of case that makes the news.
And just in general, the idea that a pedophile would want to have sex with their own child is pretty ridiculous. After all, no one thinks that the average heterosexual man wants to have sex with his potentially very attractive young daughter the moment she turns 18. In fact most fathers will acknowledge that they have an attractive daughter, but that doesn’t mean they’re attracted to her, that they fantasize about her or that they have any desire to be sexual with her. Pedophiles are really no different in this particular regard.