“Teenagers often go through phases” is a long-held parenting cliché. Adolescence, after all, is a time of rapid growth and self-discovery.
However, even the most seasoned of parents would struggle to cope with the curveball this mother faced—her teenage daughter came out as a furry.
Seeking advice on an online forum entitled ‘No Stupid Questions,’ a mother described how her 14-year-old daughter had recently announced to the family that she self-identified as a furry.
Confusion followed the girl’s revelation. When asked by her mother, the girl explained that a furry is “someone who wears an animal costume.” The husband answered that the teenager could identify as any gender she preferred, but she’s “not going to be an animal or a toaster or an inanimate object.”
Taking to Social Media to Find Out The Answers
Baffled, the nearly 50-year-old mom reached out to the internet for answers. “What exactly is a furry? And what, as a parent, should I be doing, saying, encouraging, discouraging?” she wrote in her post. She explained that she wants to be supportive of her daughter’s interests and identities, whether straight, queer, trans, or ace.
“But a furry?” the mom wondered. “I don’t know how to get on board with that. I also realize that just because I’m unaware of something or uncomfortable with something, it doesn’t make it wrong. It just makes it different.”
On the question of ‘what is a furry,’ many users were quick to enlighten the mother.
“Furries are people who have an interest in anthropomorphism, which specifically refers to giving human characteristics to animals,” reads the most cited article on furries in the comments.
“About 95 percent of furries develop their own unique avatar-like character called a fursona. … Fursonas can represent idealized versions of the self that are imbued with positive characteristics, like being sociable, funny, and less anxious.”
As one commenter explained to the anxious mother, “What you should realize and recognize about the furry fandom is that it’s first and foremost about people having fun and expressing themselves. Being a furry might be a part of a person’s identity if they choose to make it so, but it’s not a defining trait or characteristic.”
It is Not an Abnormal Desire
Users familiar with the furry community sought to reassure the mother that wanting to be a furry is not an inherently abnormal desire. “There’s at least one furry in my small town; she’s easy to spot (on my morning commute) because she always wears cat ears and a tail,” shared one Redditor. “Other than that, she seems perfectly normal.”
Most commenters likened the furry community to better-known alternative lifestyles, such as punks, goths, ravers, etc. “Kids go through a lot in their early teens; I’d suspect your daughter has just decided this is the clique she wants to be part of. It’s cool (I’d imagine) and a little bit edgy.”
“She probably just wants to wear a pair of fox ears and a tail and hang out with friends. A lot of the time what people really want out of niche hobbies is someone to understand them,” one user chimed in and identified themselves as a 40-year-old with furry friends.
Much like the Star Wars fandom, the furry community has the appeal of costumes, conventions, creative outlets, and potential friends.
The X-Rated Furry Fetish
“Treat this like any other hobby she wants to be involved in,” the 40-year-old recommended, “Teach her to avoid 18+ spaces until she’s 18+, and go with her to a convention if there’s a small one nearby.”
In a similar vein, one 28-year-old Redditor with extensive knowledge of the furry community provided some fundamental safety guidelines. “The community can be VERY welcoming and wholesome, but also has VERY strong roots in the fetish community and pornographic communities,” they explained in their comment.
They warned that content on certain ‘furry art’ websites was almost always sexual in nature and that furries have specific words related to sex and fetishes. Some adult furries even own “murr-suits”—animal costumes designed for sexual intercourse. Furry conventions should always be attended with adult supervision since some gatherings have already been banned for drugs, drinking, and disorderly behavior.
“Altogether, I want to stress that the furry community can genuinely be great. They can be creative, wildly accepting, and super supportive. But like all communities, there are those who are toxic, and there are going to be age-inappropriate things,” the 28-year-old Redditor concluded. “Keeping a cautious eye on your daughter as she explores this hobby (again, it is NOT a gender identity or sexuality, and I hope she understands that) is always a good idea.”
Just Trying to Figure Things Out
In the comments, the mother reflected on the advice she received: “A lot of people go through periods of figuring out who they are, especially during those teen years, and so few have a kind parent who accepts them and their exploration. Who cares if she’s one thing one day and another a different day—human beings aren’t static, and especially during that time, she’s just trying to figure out what feels right and what fits.”
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.