Some months ago, I asked my uncle ‘Do you have a personal relationship with anybody else in my generation?’ He said ‘of course not’. He is childless, does not have a job which involves children, and does not have any other close biological relatives who are my age or younger.
In mainstream society, there are only two models for developing personal relationships between adults and children:
1) (mostly biological) family – being a parent, and to a lesser extent being an aunt/uncle/cousin/etc.
2) having a profession related to children (childcare worker, teacher, pediatrician, etc.)
Between adults (i.e. a 50 year old and a 20 year old), there is a little more leeway for intergenerational relationships, but not much more.
In fact, adult/child relationships outside of family/work are treated with suspicion. If the adult is male or does not conform to gender norms, he may be suspected of being a predator, but even if the adult is cis-female, forming deep relationships with children outside of the mainstream channels is not easy.
Some people on the ace-spectrum are interested in the mainstream channels. However, one has no choice over whether or not one has nieces/nephews/cousins, not everyone wants to have a job working with children or be a parent, and being on the ace-specturm might make getting such a job or becoming a parent more … complicated.
The most universal option for forming relationships with children which is acceptable with mainstream society is volunteering … but even this, I understand, is not always an option for people who are considered socially ‘deviant’ (people may try to keep ‘deviant’ people away from the children). To the extent that ace-spectrum people are percieved as being deviant, this may be an issue.
Could ace communities facillitate adult/child relationships internally? Yes. Some ace-spectrum people do have children, and they could conceivably bring these children into ace-spectrum spaces where they could form personal relationships with ace-spectrum adults from outside their family. In fact, as ace-spectrum communities develop and more ace-parents get involved, some form of child-care will probably be necessary.
Right now, all of my contact with children is through casual encounters, usually on the street. But these are fleeting relationships which usually last mere minutes. If I wanted to form deeper relationships with children ex parenting/work, I would have to spend more time where children are. But often these places are patrolled paticularly strictly by the social police, so doing this would expose me to even more pressure to conform to various norms – i.e. get into a couple, get married, etc.
I would like to see a return to a more tribal approach to caring for children – everybody helps everybody’s children. This is an issue which extends way beyond ace communities. But I think such a social model would be more accepting of people on the ace-spectrum – we would be judged less based on what we are (married/unmarried, parent/childfree, coupled/single, sexually-active/celibate, etc.), and more based on what we do for others.