This topic is arguably one of the most controversial topics when it comes to BDSM or kink in general. And in many ways, it is one of the hardest to explain which is why many people don’t know about it or find it to be so controversial and/or triggering. It’s also why it is so hard to find decent research that isn’t biased or inaccurate.
What even is a Caregiver or, even harder to explain, a little? What is the difference between littles and middles? And if you don’t have to age play then how do you distinguish a little or middle from a submissive? What even is age play?
Is this dynamic even a part of kink or is it simply a coping mechanism?
If you are someone interested in learning about stuffed animals, sippy cups, adult pacifiers, and what it means to be a Caregiver then this post, as well as some of the links I will post below, will give you the information you need to explore childlike happiness and peace.
Caregivers/ littles (C/l):
Caregiver/little (C/l), more commonly known as Daddy Dom/ little girl (DD/lg) or Mommy Domme/ Little boy (MD/lb) though it is by no means reserved only for those pairings, is a BDSM dynamic classified by the presence of a Daddy or Mommy and a little. It is a dynamic that tends to be focused more on the caregiving aspect of power exchange than on the control, bondage, or discipline.
Though the terms are Daddy, Mommy, little, little girl/boy, baby girl/boy, (The list can go on and on), this is not a dynamic that supports or is representative of pedophilia however many people, when first hearing about the dynamic, assume that is what it is. This dynamic has nothing to do with minors and is always between two consenting adults.
Urban Dictionary defines this dynamic as:
“relationship in which one person is the caregiver or “daddy” and the other is childlike. It is NOT a relationship between an actual father and daughter or any minor. This is a type of BDSM relationship that may or may not involve sex, but often involves play with child-like things, such as stuffed animals, bed-time stories, and spankings.”
Caregivers are the Dominants in these dynamics. They take on the responsibilities of providing care, guidance, and support. Often times their titles are Daddy or Mommy but as stated previously, this is not a parental relationship, it is that of two consenting adults. When talking about C/l it is most often referred to ad DD/lg but this does not mean that all Dominants in this relationship are male. That is the norm but not the hard truth.
Dainis Graveris, in his article titled “DDLG: The Definitive Guide To Daddy Dom / Little Girl Relationships” defines Caregivers as:
Most of the definitions I have found for this topic basically all said the same thing for this role, but the reality is it is much more than that. Caregivers aren’t just the ones dominating and punishing littles. They legitimately care for the littles when the littles are in the space to need the care. They love their littles and the silly ways the littles play and act. They care for the littles when the littles are sad, hungry, playful, or other. They guide littles behaviors so that littles don’t do anything that could be harmful physically or emotionally. Sometimes that guidance requires punishments like spankings. It very much is a caring role. An almost softer take on Dominance.
Littles are the submissive part of a C/l dynamic. They are consenting adults who take on childlike mindsets and childlike activities.
Urban Dictionary defines little as:
“someone that likes to act younger than they really are. It’s kind of like having an alter ego that’s much younger than yourself. Most littles don’t act little 24/7, but when they do slip into their younger alter ego it’s called slipping into headspace.”
Many people assume that this means that littles are immature or incapable of caring for themselves. In little space sometimes littles can become dependent and become more accident prone, but they are also consenting adults with the ability to hold legitimate jobs and pay bills. Littles do not have to be and often are not little all the time. They only become little when they wish to be or have been triggered into little space by their Dominant or another force like coming into contact with a fellow little in little space.
Middles are like littles only that the mindset is more like that of a teenager than that of a child. Instead of using sippy cups, pacifiers, and nap times, they may color and watch shows geared towards older children or young teens. They become more defiant towards authority but still require the guidance and care that the Caregivers provide.
C/l and Gender:
In all forms of BDSM, there are certain assumptions that Dominates are males and submissives are females though nowhere is that assumption more apparent than in that of C/l.
The most common term for C/l is DD/lg. Hands down that is the most recognizable designation for this dynamic. I choose not to use it commonly throughout this post though because it perpetuates that assumption above and creates a sort of bias against Mommy Dommes and little boys.
Most littles are undoubtedly female, most Caregivers male. However, this does not make the Mommy Dommes or little boys any less a part of this dynamic.
A Caregiver is a Caregivers, Daddy or Mommy or other. A little is a little regardless of gender and it is not at all unusual for a male to want to be and to be little.
Little boys act very much the same as little girls except for maybe they want to play with toy trucks instead of dolls. And that is a hard maybe. Mommy Dommes are very much the same as Daddy Doms in the fact that they give care and guidance where needed.
C/l and Age play:
Age play is a form of role play in which the littles or middles fall into activities and mindsets of childlike or teenage like ages.
Urban Dictionary defines it as:
“Age play is the term for consenting adults who roleplay in some way pertaining to age. Sometimes this is “infantilism”, which is adults acting as babies. There are all ages.. this can also include schoolgirl or schoolboy with headmaster or headmistress, and every conceivable age in between. Consensually is key, and let me stress again this is ADULTS – it has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone under the age of consenting adult.”
This is also sometimes referred to as little space, though in some instances little space and age play are considered to be different things due to the fact that not all littles or middles age play. As stated in the definition above, age play is like role-playing.
Little space is the mentality of the little when in role with the Caregiver, it doesn’t necessarily come with the need to use items typically associated with age play.
Age play can be part of that role and mentality or a separate entity altogether. It can consist of defined roles in a given situation, like the definition above stated with the headmistress and little at school. It can also just be a time period in which a little is using items typically associated with being little. It varies from relationship to relationship.
When age playing or in little space, often times littles will have certain items that assist in keeping them in this space and making them feel comfortable or cared for. This can and often does include (Depending on age that they revert to and varying from person to person) stuffed animals, sippy cups, pacifiers, and special blankets. Littles will also often dress in clothing that is representative of their childlike mindset. Clothing with cute graphics or in lighter pastel colors and hair styled in ways that remind them of being a kid (i.e. pigtails or ponytails).
Is C/l a part
of BDSM or not?
There is a lot of debate among people who participate in C/l over whether or not it is actually a BDSM dynamic or just simply a coping mechanism. People often assume that BDSM is all about the sexuality of things, and though this is the norm, it is not the truth of all dynamics.
BDSM dynamics are about the power exchange and in some instances, sex or sexual activities never occur between a Dominant and a submissive. This is true for C/l as well. Sex can be a part of it but it isn’t necessary. It is all dependent on the individual’s relationships with one another.
The argument for C/l not being a part of BDSM has to do with the fact that a lot of littles use their little space to de-stress from day to day life and deal with hard emotions or situations. They use it as a coping mechanism to life.
A lot of BDSM is a coping mechanism though. BDSM can be a huge stress relief as I have stated previously in other posts though using BDSM in place of therapy or actual coping skills and help from professionals isn’t healthy or recommended. It can be used in junction with more professional assistance, but not as a standalone to therapy in itself.
Really it depends on your own views and how you feel about the dynamic you are in or the future dynamic you want to be a part of within reasonable Safe, Sane, and Consensual guidelines.
I had a hard time finding links that were supportive of C/l and that were accurate so below I will have posted probably one of the most supportive and accurate links that explain more about what it means to have a “Daddy” and what it means to be a little. Enjoy.
Now that you have learned a little bit about C/l, what it entails, what makes a Daddy Dom or Mommy Domme, what makes a little, some of the challenges to littles and challenges to the mindset of C/l and BDSM, you may be thinking to yourself “What do I do now?”
Well, that is an easy enough question for me to answer.
Further Reading (Well, in this case, watching):