I realize many people are uncomfortable with the idea of pedophiles having friendships with children at all. They think of those cases where it can lead on to sexual abuse, either as a result of a carefully laid "grooming" plan or as an impulsive decision that transforms an affectionate situation into a sexual one. These must be avoided, and I would encourage any pedophile to look carefully at his general self-control, his motivations, and the strength of his desire in any situation like that. If in any doubt, he should do whatever it takes to make sure he never abuses. If that means never becoming at all friendly with children, that's what he should do.
But there are pedophiles who are in no danger of doing anything sexual with children. They can in fact be helpful to the extent they feel a genuine affection for a child and show it in appropriate ways. Although not strictly required, it is a wonderful thing if a child has a few people who really take delight in them just for being who they are. All too often kids have a shortage of that from among the adults who are a natural part of a kid's life -- parents, other family, and friends of the parents. There are some "ordinary" adults who have no sexual attraction to kids who can see this need and genuinely help meet it. But it is also a situation where a pedophile's attention can be welcome and helpful. Many of us in the Virtuous Pedophiles discussion group report an attraction to kids that is completely genuine and healthy that occurs alongside the sexual attraction.
I think we recognize this pattern among adults. Men who are attracted to women can sometimes be their friends without revealing the attraction. That genuine sense that the "other" is a wonderful person can lead them to be supportive beyond what ordinary friends would do. Some may hope that the friendship will develop into more, but many hold no such hope. Of course women also do this for men very commonly. I imagine it is common from a lesbian directed towards a (likely straight) woman, or a gay man towards a (likely straight) man. There are ethical problems when the recipient of such friendly attention knows or suspects the other person hopes that more will develop when they know it will not. But this doesn't undercut the value of what the attracted person can offer.
Yet there are also problematic things the attracted person can do -- ways the attraction can lead them to be less than helpful. As I turn below to pedophiles being friendly with children, you will easily see the same potential problem between adults. The key difference is that adults can recognize what's going on and stick up for themselves, and more readily recognize unusual behavior as the other person's problem.
If a pedophile does fall in love with the girl (it can happen with boys too, but I focus on the girl case) he sometimes puts on her the sort of non-sexual expectations a lover might have. For instance, he could profess the great depth of his friendship. He could try to get her to spend more time with him than she wants, and/or act very hurt if she doesn't spend the time he wants. Or he might suddenly break off contact to deal with his own hurt and frustration. These can leave a girl wondering what she did wrong or even what's wrong with her. Now, sorting out relationships with peers is a major job of adolescence, and it includes dealing with unrequited crushes and passions. Yet it is far better if adults don't put an adolescent in such a position. (The perils of crushes that are requited is a topic for another post). Telling a child you are in love with them or that you are a pedophile is highly problematic. Even if you don't say you need them to keep it a secret, they are likely to feel that way -- often for very good reason.
The younger the child, the higher standards we should have for not putting burdens on them. If we offer friendship, it should be without hidden expectations or too much intensity. Asking a young child to keep ANY troubling secret from their parents is a bad idea.
It is also true that most parents don't always deal with their kids in the healthiest ways psychologically. Yet parents have taken on a very big burden -- a stress lasting 18 years minimum. They have no respite or relief. We have to accept that most of them will be short of sainthood and not be ideal parents.
Siblings are similarly stuck with each other. Yet if an adult voluntarily comes into a child's life, we can naturally hold them to a much higher standard, and that is the standard pedophiles should set for themselves. And they must avoid the perils that their attraction can bring to the situation, even those that are short of sexual activity.