My 13 year old step-son told his mother yesterday that he wants to be a "furry."

A couple days ago he decided he wanted to make a cat costume. I just shake my head most of the time when he comes up with these ideas and try to remind him he's 13 now and that might not be the priority at the moment (like saving for a car and other teen boy interests). He has ADHD, so his personality is that of a very sensitive and slightly immature nature.

He ended up making his costume and wearing it to school. I didn't know this until after the fact. But his mother (my wife) said that while no one laughed or made fun of him in front of him there was probably some talk behind his back. It is a very small school in a very rural part of the US.

This prompted my wife to have him Google what a "furry" is and after doing so discussing it a bit further on his feelings about that topic. I'm sure the whole concept was introduced to him from spending too much time on YouTube and coming across things which may seem innocent but have longer term effects or other connotations attached to them.

He said he wanted to do this "because he can be who he is." I think the whole thing was pretty innocent but a bit off for a 13 y/o. After the later discussion he expressed that the costuming and what-not would just be a hobby for him, that its not some kind of lifestyle change or related to fetishism.

I'm concerned for a number of reasons. While I struggle with the idea, I worry more for him dealing with it all. I don't see his bio-father taking it well nor his maternal grandfather. Maybe that won't be a big deal if its only a costume making hobby. Should it be a regular thing to wear to school, etc., I see problems. Being in a small town, yet big enough for weirdos as it is, people are very judgmental.

My Question is this:

  • What should I do?
  • How can we be supportive of him in his choices without him being bullied?
  • Do we help him embrace this or try to deter him away from it?
  • Are we over-thinking this at this point in time?
  • 1
    "For those unfamiliar, I suggest Google." - Usually, a question should be self-contained. You might loose users that might be able to help you, but don't bother googling and doing extra-research. While it wouldn't hurt you to explain it in a sentence or two.
    – Arsak
    Sep 26, 2018 at 14:44
  • I added a link, but agree with @Marzipanherz that a bit of a definition right in the question would be advisable.
    – Stephie
    Sep 26, 2018 at 15:00
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    Actually, 13 is a pretty typical age to become interested in the furry subculture, so I wouldn't focus too much on the age aspect, unless it adds to any safety or bullying concerns.
    – user14172
    Sep 26, 2018 at 20:28
  • I should have explained it, you're right. Thanks for adding a link, I'll update the question when I have a few more minutes to do so. I was kinda rushing to get all my thoughts about it down before it became a rambling mess.
    – user20343
    Sep 26, 2018 at 22:07
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    I went through a funny hat phase - purely for costume, I guess - and my dad explained that just as he has to wear a uniform (military), and just as people had to wear a nice shirt to work, we have to wear school clothes to school: wear whatever you want when you get home.
    – Mikey
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:39

6 Answers 6


(Edited to clarify my assumptions - thanks @Kai) Based on the statement "After the later discussion he expressed that the costuming and what-not would just be a hobby for him", I would bet he wants to be a "cosplayer", not a "furry", and would be happy with any venue in which a costume is welcome.

The issue is not whether or not cosplay is healthy, but when and where it is acceptable. Having a time and place for cosplay is probably your best option.

Even in rural towns, there can be opportunity for cosplay. In my town we have an anime cafe that offers discounts to cosplayers. My entire family will periodically show up dressed as our favorite characters from anime/manga. I draw the line at Gray Fullbuster's combat uniform, however.

Check out local role playing gamers - D&D for example. There is often overlap with the cosplay community. For example, the Society for Creative Anachronism evolved out a group of D&D afficionados that wanted to take the game to a new level, before "cosplay" was a word. Hardcore RPG gamers tend to be very accepting - if you can play the game and stay in character, it doesn't matter to them if you're closer to 10 or 100. A little cosplay adds atmosphere to the game.

Check out anime and manga clubs. Again, they have a strong cosplay community, and cosplay simply adds atmosphere to the meetings.

  • 3
    Adding to DnD groups - LARP groups would be perfect for this sort of thing. Sep 26, 2018 at 18:31
  • 1
    This first statement is incorrect. Wearing an animal costume is very much part of the furry subculture, and not necessarily "just cosplay." Also the furry subculture is at best adjacent to the anime/manga and tabletop gaming subcultures. Showing up in these spaces while wearing your fursuit might still be seen as a little weird, like showing up dressed as Batman at a Star Trek convention. Though many would probably still overlook it.
    – user14172
    Sep 26, 2018 at 20:46
  • I dunno - showing up as "Happy" you might suddenly find yourself hanging out with a bunch of Natsu's. Is he specifically interested in the costuming, or the furry aspect? I admit I'm taking a wild guess based on the "After the later discussion he expressed that the costuming and what-not would just be a hobby for him" statement
    – pojo-guy
    Sep 26, 2018 at 21:38
  • 3
    I should have been more clear in that statement. He very much expressed his desire to be a cat, and to dress as one because "that's who he is." I believe part of it is just a kid trying to express himself in the only way he knows how. But I'm not really sure, he's my first teenager. I also think it is about the costuming aspect more than just living as a cat or whatever. In any case I'll take whatever advise I can get on it.
    – user20343
    Sep 26, 2018 at 22:11
  • 1
    My 8 year old runs around being a cat (he's miaowing right now), but so does my 19 year old sometimes. I start recruiting kids for my webcast team at 11, and treat them as adults in the context of the webcast. My best technical director is a 12 year old with ADHD, who is like an air traffic controller during production. Every so often I have to remind myself that my shorter crew members are kids, can't maintain the professional facade all the time, and have to let loose.
    – pojo-guy
    Sep 26, 2018 at 22:22

Furry is different to cosplay. Cosplay generally entails dressing as a specific character, typically from popular media, and often for specific events. Furries generally identify more strongly with the character, which they typically create themselves. There are some VERY NSFW sides to furryness but it can also be perfectly innocent. (You should know that the commonly known stereotype of Furries is the NSFW version. There is much more to it that that, but the rest is less "well known". That is, for someone who has barely heard if it, it is likely they will only know of the NSFW side of it. So bear this in mind if/when you mention it/talk about it with others.)

The first thing is to ask WHY he wants to be a furry. If he actually wants to be a furry or if he just wants to wear a costume.

He said he wanted to do this "because he can be who he is."

That might be something to explore - why does he need a costume to be who he is? Is there some reason he can't be who he is as a human boy?

Ask him to show you some of the videos that gave him this idea too - its a bonding experience by you showing interest, and also gives you an opportunity to discuss things with him.

Regarding wearing costumes to school, it might be good to gently remind him that children can be cruel and help him research other more appropriate places he can wear his costume. Perhaps some compromise can be reached where he is happy but that minimized the bullying potential. For example, he wears a hat with ears to school but you guys make special trips to places he can wear his full costume a few times a month. Its been mentioned in other answers but DND groups, LARP groups, possibly Ren-Faires, Comicons/Comic shops, board game conventions, (basically anywhere with a large nerd-presence), etc. Maybe see if you can START a DND group or something similar for kids his age (an adult would probably need to run it as the rules can get a bit complex) and encourage coming in costume if you can't find anything.


There actually are studies on this phenomenon, but they are often small, not well done, and/or contradict each other, so to answer the "Are we overthinking this...", the answer is "unknown, but probably not."

How can we be supportive of him in his choices without him being bullied?

You cannot control what other people do, otherwise no child of a loving parent would ever experience bullying, physical or emotional abuse, kidnapping, etc. (Not stating these as equivalents, just saying...) You can only control yourself.

In this case, start building up your child's potential for resilience by reading about it, and teaching your child critical thinking skills, self-control, exercising optimism and gratitude, and making sure his home environment is a loving and supportive one.

You can meet with his teachers/the principal to see what kind of anti-bullying measures are in place in the school and whether they are proactive as well as reactive.

Do we help him embrace this or try to deter him away from it?

POB, but do what you think loving parents concerned for the well being of their child would do. If I were in this situation, I would approach this like any other decision: discuss the pros and cons of wearing the costume to school/other places where costume play is usually unexpected. Do this lovingly but honestly. Don't imply "You're asking for trouble...", but rather frame it as discomfort, confusion or intolerance: "Some people have different ideas about how others should dress and due to confusion or intolerance, they can sometimes be [intentionally or unintentionally unkind/whatever...]." At a certain age, kids make their own decisions and experience the consequences. You know your child better than we do and know if his decisions are impulsive or well thought out.

What should I do?

Whatever you won't regret when you look back on this in 30 years. Unfortunately, we never know these things in advance, so just do your best.

Scholar Google "furry fandom effects on children"
Enhancing Resilience in Children: A Proactive Approach
How to Bully-Proof Your Children by Building Their Resilience How to protect children against the painful effects of bullying

  • Sorry if it's a dumb question but, can you define "POB", please ?
    – iizno
    Oct 8, 2018 at 11:17
  • 2
    @iizno - "Primarily Opinion Based", one of the close reasons. :) Oct 8, 2018 at 13:08

Don't worry, furries are harmless. Wearing a fursuit can actually raise his self esteem. Many people who are shy or have trouble around people gain confidence from wearing a costume like that. He may be into cosplay, but I'm willing to bet he's likely a furry (also some people are both furries and cosplayers). Being a furry is a hobby, just like sports or sewing. Being a furry is Kid friendly too. There is a big misconception that being a furry is all about the... NSFW aspect of the community. In reality, this is only a fraction of the community. Most of us don't participate in that side, and the ones that do definitely wouldn't let a minor participate, so either way your son is safe. Just show him your support and accept him. This is normal.

  • How do you know that? There seems to be a difference between regular cosplay (where you wear a "suit" to look like your favourite movie character) and a furry, where the person seems to show an attachment to being that furry character. Dec 14, 2023 at 11:27

There's nothing wrong with being a furry, and I know that you have your concerns, but you should fully embrace it and love him no matter what. The furry fandom has been seriously misrepresented in media in the past, and still has a negative perception from most of the public, but the truth is, it's nothing to do with sex or anything NSFW. You're probably thinking, "Oh yeah? Well how can you be so sure Mr. Know it All?", well that's because I am a furry. It's not something that I go around announcing to random people on the street, but it's something that I'm comfortable sharing.

I discovered the fandom through a friend of mine while I was at a low point in my life (depressed, suicidal, typical teenager stuff). Its a place to meet friends and have fun. The amount of support and love that you can find there is unmatched by any other group of people in the world. A place where everyone is nice and stands up for each other, and is there to support you, no matter what. The fandom has helped me find loads of friends, and quite literally save peoples lives (including me) For a lot of people, being a furry is just a phase, but for a lot of others, it's something that they stick with their whole life. And he's right when he said, "its not some kind of lifestyle change or related to fetishism". It's just a hobby. For some people, they do it because of the sex, but that's like 0.1%, and its contained to those people.

He may pass on from this, and decide that it's not something that he wants to stick with, but if he continues it (which I personally encourage) it's a great way for social interaction, and making friends. A lot of people find that a fursuit helps them be more open and outgoing, and that suiting helps them a lot. Although I don't have a suit (#toobroke) I have witnessed the fandom and fursuiting have huge positive effects on people's self esteem and social skills. So you're completely right to be concerned, because he's your son, and he's someone you want to protect. You don't fully understand what he wants to do, but let him be him, and support him and protect him as much as you can.

  • Look at some videos on youtube like "what is a furry" or "my kid is a furry". There are some great resources that explain different aspects of the fandom in better detail. Oct 16, 2020 at 20:36
  • How do you know there is no negative effects from this? Your answer seems primarily opinion based Dec 14, 2023 at 11:28

Let him be who he wants to be, there is absolutely nothing bad about being a furry.


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