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Welcome to MNFurs, a local community site where fans of anthropomorphic animals and artists can gather to meet each other locally in the Twin Cities and surrounding area; forming friendships, meeting new people, educate others, and help out the local community. To access chat, forums, and the additional features of this site you must register for a free account or log in.

Help! My Kid Is A Furry, What Do I Do?

A Simple Resource For Parents

The “F” word has been said by your kid, “Furry”. After a bit of searching on Google, you’re confused and concerned. What does it mean? What are the impacts? Is it safe? What can I do to help my kid? Should I keep them away? All of these are valid questions as a parent or caregiver, but with some solid information, each one can be answered and hopefully help you arrive at the answers you need.

 

Understanding ‘Furry’

There may be some confusion about what it means when someone says they’re furry or they’re into furry. Just what does that mean?

Furry is shorthand, used to describe fans of anthropomorphic animals. This means animals with human characteristics such as walking on two legs, having intelligence, and/or the ability to talk just to name a few. Think Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse, they walk on two legs, have hands to manipulate items, and talk. Members of the furry fandom write, tell stories, draw art, and even dress up in costumes of characters, almost always their own design, as a way to express themselves.

Furries come in all ages and sizes, from pre-teens and teenagers to those who have children and even grandchildren. For each person, what it means to be furry will get a different answer, much like with sports fans asked why they enjoy playing or watching a game.  

It seems scary right now to you, a parent or caregiver because it’s something new. It’s like someone who is a football fan suddenly dropped into the knitting club, or a theater geek having to talk to the kids who love cars. It’s scary in a new environment and you know nothing! But, we all come together in the same community, supporting one another, and just like in those earlier examples, a little education can go a long way to helping fit in, and understanding each other.

 

The Furry Community

One of the biggest and most important things about furries is that they do form communities, both in regional senses (statewide) as well as smaller groupings, such as cities or friend groups. This is a community not just in how people come together, but in that it gives members a sense of belonging. This is like how being part of a sports team, or a club in school gives the child a larger “identity” they can use to help explain others about what they’re like, as well as a lens to see the world through.

Just like a sports or social group, this community looks out for one another. That’s a huge thing, it helps keep an eye out for anything that may threaten either the group or individuals and helps organize resources to respond.

There is also a huge psychological benefit towards being in a group. It provides a sense of comfort and foundation and study after study has shown the benefits of belonging to any sort of social group. These benefits range from increased self-confidence, better focus on studies, to becoming more outgoing and even physical health improvements. Having that sense of belonging to the furry community is part of what keeps so many of our members, even our older ones, present.

 

The Media’s Image and Misconceptions

If you Googled furry before coming here, you may have run across an old article in Vanity Fair or you may have memories of an old CSI episode about furries. Both were alarming, and have you concerned about your child and the group they’re identifying with.

You would not be the first, many parents of furries at the time saw that and became concerned. Was this some deep dark underbelly that was being hidden from them? The short and simple answer is that furry is a form of artistic and self-expression and while the majority of it is innocent, there can be an adult element for some. That being said, Minnesota Furs is a family-friendly organization, and all events are considered all-ages appropriate unless otherwise specified. This isn’t just a fluke of the way gatherings go, but also by design, and is a core tenant of the MNFurs Board of Directors and the volunteer staff work to ensure every gathering is as welcoming, as friendly, and as safe as they can be for everyone.

Fortunately, as time has gone on, there have been many more positive articles about the furry fandom and community at large. Conventions in several major cities have run stories how the “people in animal costumes” are considered a boon to local businesses, bringing in millions of dollars in revenue. Some have even saved small businesses from closing with rapid funding drives, and many businesses even will run “furry themed specials”. Locally here in Minnesota there have been several positive media coverages, including a few video interviews, a number of newspaper articles in City Pages and the Star Tribune, and even a radio interview.

Many have portrayed the furry community as a group of young people.  There are a large number of members in their late teens and early twenties, but the age range as said before is broad. Many members are married, work full-time jobs, and some even have families. Many of these older individuals are those who help staff events, plan meetings, and organize activities from regular meetups, to our flagship yearly convention, Furry Migration.

 

Escapism and Coping with the Real World

Many parents worry about their child using furry and the furry community as a form of escapism, a way to avoid problems. While that can happen, the way the furry community is today makes that harder to be the case.

Furries today come from all walks of life, they’re not just young, poor, starving artists. Many of our members are highly productive and successful members of society as a whole. While some members do fulfill that stereotypical starving artist quotient, many members run their own businesses, work as lawyers, nurses, veterinarians, engineers, developers, and more. Many have hobbies in addition to the furry community, such as photography, sports, robotics, or board/card gaming. These people often seek each other out at our get togethers and form fast friendships, exposing members to more than just other furries. We even sometimes do events talking specifically about things such as photography, managing a business, or fursuit making!

Many of our members in the Minnesota Furs community came together when they were your child’s age, or not much older.  Many suffered at school; teasing, bullying, and all the vagaries of the unkind that can crop up in that environment. Many members are happy to share with newcomers, young and old, their various coping techniques, and ways that they can address this. It helps, both unintentionally and intentionally, to empower people to face the outside world with new tools and knowledge to face those whom don’t want to understand.

One way to think of it is that the world is like the sea, it can be stormy and rough, and scary when you’re out there alone in a boat. The furry community is a safe harbor, with berthing and barriers against the ocean, to protect from storms. But, the harbor has the map to other harbors, and the boat that is carrying your child will learn about, and learn how to travel to and often times, with other boats just like them, to not make the journey alone. The furry community harbor is always there to provide shelter when necessary but still encourages to explore the sea beyond.

 

Where Do I As A Parent Fit In?

While all of this may sound like an okay thing for your child, it has left many parents wondering if there’s room for them in the furry community when they aren’t furry themselves.

Fear not, parents! There’s a lot of crossover from other areas. Events still often need event runners to help coordinate things. There are new people all the time who may need encouragement, and Minnesota Furs is always looking for volunteers to assist in a variety of ways, many of which are, you guessed it, attending the events as a chaperone or volunteer. Often times, as with any group, there’s a lot of “behind the scenes” stuff that has to be done to make sure the “fun” stuff is pulled off. Any parent who’s helped with the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, assisted in a youth sports club, or helped any after school activity can tell you that, and we’re no different. Additionally, Minnesota Furs is always looking for the input and advice of parents and caretakers to help ensure that their needs are met as well, because we see you as a parent as part of our community too.

 

When In Doubt, Check It Out

If you still have concerns, or questions that haven’t been answered, we encourage you to come to one of our events such as a picnic, our convention, or even a regular meetup. Our volunteer staff and board members would be happy to talk with you, one on one, and help you network with other parents to make sure all your questions and concerns are answered. If you have an idea, we definitely want to hear! So come to a meet, say hi, and find out that the furry community is just another geeky group, that can be a safe haven for your child and encouragement to help them grow.

 
 

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