Dear Papa Bear,
As you can see I'm sort of on the younger side of the fandom but this doesn't change my love for it. I've been in love with anything and everything furry for almost two years now.
I just recently "came out" per say, I told my parents about me being a furry. I showed them some fur suit picture, some cute anthros I drew up over the years, thoroughly explaining that it's a big deal to me but for them just to consider it a hobby. That was two weeks ago and I still haven't heard a break from the constant teasing and bullying. They told me yesterday, "Why can't you just be a normal teenager like Destiny?" It hurts so bad that not even my parents can accept me, I already get enough teasing being open at school. I mean, my best friend keeps calling me a creep.
I guess this is a question of acceptance. How am I supposed to deal with all of this coming from all the people I love most? Please let me know.
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I suppose your parents miss the irony in having a child named “Destiny” while telling you that you must conform. Hmmm...?
And if your “best friend” calls you a “creep,” then time to find a new best friend. If any of MY friends called me names, I would certainly question the quality of that friendship. I would never treat them in such a manner and expect the same kindness from them. You should, too.
The biggest cause of mental distress in humans is the unrequited desire to please one’s parents and to be accepted by them, as well as by one’s peers. You will find millions of people on psychologists’ couches because they never felt they were accepted by the most important people in their early lives. This is understandable, because as infants, toddlers, and young children, we depend upon our elders for everything from food and shelter to being a role model for our behaviors. They are the people we look up to, and so their opinions have great power over us to either nurture us or torment us. Such is the touchstone of parenting: good parents nurture (but not to the point of indulging their children’s every whim), bad ones torment.
But if you are to become an adult, and a fully-realized person, you have to overcome your need for approval from others and learn the biggest lesson of all: the only voice of approval that really matters is your own. If you do not approve of yourself, if you do not like yourself, you will be miserable all your days. But if you DO like yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin, then the opinions of others will ricochet off you like bullets off Superman’s chest.
I would like to recommend two books by don Miguel Ruiz to you: The Four Agreements and The Fifth Agreement. The author explains in these books, using concepts developed by the Toltecs, how to live life on your own terms. You can likely find inexpensive, used paperbacks on Amazon.com.
In the meantime, you have to deal with the current bullying situation. When it comes to school peers, you have to deal with them at their intellectual level (mostly, brutish), which is why I suggest learning some self-defense. Becoming physically fit and not being shy about it is a highly effective way to shut bullies up, since most bullies are cowardly slime who back down from a fight when pressed. Another way is to be more clever than they are. I wrote about this in a column back in March (http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/she-is-teased-at-school-for-wearing-a-tail).
As for your parents, since you can’t beat them up (small joke).... Have you told them that they are hurting your feelings? This is a very tough thing to do, I’ll admit. It’s hard to, basically, criticize your parents’ parenting. The way to approach such a delicate topic is by doing so with understanding, remembering that, while they are your elders, they are also just human. So, preface a conversation with something like: “Mom, Dad, I know you’re only thinking of my well-being, but....” and go on to explain that being a furry is who you are, and if they can’t accept that, then it makes you feel like they don’t accept you either. Many parents don’t get that being a furry is, for many, more than a hobby like collecting dolls or being a Trekkie; it is who many of us are. If you can make your parents understand that, then, hopefully, the teasing will stop.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
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