[Papabear note: I received the following letter after writing this column. It really made my day!]
I hope I'm not being a bother, but I wanted to share with you my "parenting win" last night.
When my son got home from school, I pulled him aside and told him that I had looked through his phone the other night (as he knows I do occasionally, to spot check) and saw some of his chat discussions where he was talking about being a Furry. I told him initially, it scared the hell out of me. He began to get very defensive, very quickly and I was able to grab his attention long enough to get him to look at my phone, where I showed him the letter I sent you yesterday, asking for insight.
He read it slowly and quietly- I could tell it was taking him a minute to try and figure out what he was reading. Then he asked what it was. I told him that I tried to research what being a Furry was. And I found your website. That I wanted to understand.
In my snooping thru his phone, I had read some entries where he expressed feeling alone and misunderstood. And fears of his family not understanding him. I told him that while I may never fully "get" things he is into and enjoys- I sure as hell will always try my best. I may never know which Pokemon evolve into what- I may never master the PS4 game controller and I'll most likely never play D & D- But I will always try. I can't play the trumpet, but I sure as hell am Band Booster President- I try. And then I said- what I do understand about the Furry community- I'm totally ok with, and I can understand why he takes interest in it, and that it really does fall in line with all his other interests. But, like most things, there can be a side that he just has no business being involved in- and as long as he steers clear of the sexual side of it- I am 100% ok with it.
We have a rule, no online chatting with strangers. He clearly had broken that rule- But I had decided not to take his priveleges away from him. That surprised his a great deal. He had not broken any cardinal rules of giving out personal details- even not exchanging his photo when asked. With that he was responsible- He has an online comminity of like-minded people, that he can't get in our "real- world" community. I can't take that safe haven away from him.
I briefly mentioned that just because you find safety in a group of people, doesn't necissarily mean they all have your best interest at heart. To be aware that there are people out there that use the internet and special interest groups to prey on kids and those with weak souls. To just be aware and use his spidey sense.
Then I told him, I love him for him- in what ever form that may take. If he is a good person, kind to others, taking care of his responsibilities (grades, chores, self care, etc) then he can run around with animal ears and a tail if he so chooses, and I will never think less of him for it.
My son's eyes welled up with tears, he threw his arms around me and just said "thank you".
So, for that, I thank YOU. I still have a lot to learn, but you took the time to give me some much needed reassurance and a pep talk. The little I know about you from your website, I can only imagine that you have been through some challenges of your own. The time you take to help clueless moms like me, matters. Thank you.
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You are an amazing mom! Do not thank me. That you had this bonding moment with your son is all on you. I hereby declare you an "Honorary Furry Mom"!
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